Alfa’s Debut on AWOOO Records is Transformative, Intelligent Pop

by Aldus Santos

“She sings like no one is listening,” Alessandra de Rossi once said of Alfa. Her AWOOO debut is, incidentally, also the unveiling of a new sound and direction.

Alfa has had a storied past decade. Despite a ravenously competitive landscape, her music has made it on-air, online, and on-screen across the US, gracing different mediums with her varied musicality. 

Her global appeal reflects a sort of cultural remove from her roots: something which has been decidedly quashed when her first non-English single “Alindahaw,” which she sang in Visayan, broke through in a major way in 2020. After snagging top honors in the world category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, it’s also now vying for an Awit citation for Best Global Recording.

And the proverbial homecoming is far from over. Today, in fact, marks the release of Alfa’s debut single with AWOOO Records, the Alessandra de Rossi-helmed record label which the actress unveiled in late September. 

The song in question, “Every Word You Say,” is a stunning bit of campfire-meets-coffeeshop synth ballad that has an equally painful lyrical theme.

Written during downtime while housesitting for a friend, the song was willed into being after Alfa binge-watched the British dramedy Fleabag. “I was taken in by the story and the idea that you could be massively in love with [a person] but still make a choice not to continue that love because of stronger forces.”  

From a barebones demo featuring rough vocals and violin (Alfa is classically trained on strings) the track in its present form has the weight of transformative, intelligent pop: lush and layered, generous in sentiment but sublime in sentimentality, heart-on-sleeve yet calm and composed. “It’s a new sound for me, but one that I’ve been wanting to create for a long time,” Alfa shares, adding, “I wanted to bring in more of my violin-playing and bring out a percussive, groove-driven edge.”   

“Dreaming out loud what I knew could never happen / Dreaming out loud so I could stare down my demons,” she sings in the pre-choruses, and the listener gets swathed in both her hypnotic pipes and the shimmering sonics courtesy of collaborator and co-producer Carl Thomson. 

Whereas her well-loved pre-AWOOO material depended almost solely on the intimacy her voice offers, this time around she is exploring moods, rhythms, and vibes enabled by adventurous musicianship and nuanced studio craft. The result, as evidenced on “Every Word You Say,” bodes well for the talented singer-songwriter.

“Her musicality is poetic and cinematic, and you sense it in her breath, in the instrumentation, in everything,” label head Alessandra de Rossi—who previously heaped praise on Alfa’s vigorous knack for “singing like no one’s listening”—says of the musician’s AWOOO debut.  

“Maybe she’s thought about it a great deal, or maybe it’s magic. Whatever it is, I think it’s gold.” 

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Hya’s Poignant “Raindrops” is AWOOO Records’ Inaugural Release

by Aldus Santos

Forget what you’ve seen and heard of her on television. This new version (and vision) of Hya is a real revelation.

We live in talent-show country, where sequins and diva stylings are routinely applauded. In more recent times, though, it has come to mean something else: being the splayed frog under the microscope, and miming the relishing of it.

The San Carlos, Negros Occidental-bred singer Lee’Anna Weber Layumas knows this, and she’s seen it for herself while gracing different stages, Rising Stars PhilippinesJust Duet, and The Will to Win among them. 

But it wasn’t until she landed a stint in Bangon Talentadong Pinoy when perspective—the kind that’s beyond hollow pandering and empty theatrics—would truly work in her favor. That perspective came in the shape and form of erstwhile judge Alessandra de Rossi, who ultimately saw beyond what was being actively shown. 

“She sounded like an angel, and my world just stopped. I knew in my heart that this girl, given a chance, could be someone new singers can look up to,” De Rossi says of the Fil-German chanteuse. To some extent, the actress-turned-filmmaker’s raucous fangirling would be the crux of the birthing of AWOOO Records, which formally launches today (September 24). 

“Her voice is different. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone like her,” De Rossi adds, and she certainly wasn’t talking entirely literally.

Layumas, who now goes by Hya, is doubtless a voice to be reckoned with, and that voice is by no means anchored on sheer skill and technical acumen alone. De Rossi describes it as “soothing and contemplative,” a ghostly presence rather than a commandeering one, in a manner of speaking.

All of this becomes more readily apparent with the release of her maiden single “Raindrops,” an inspiring, slow-burn bit of pop splayed on a bed of sparse textural accompaniment, courtesy of ace producer Nick Lazaro over at La Balls, who also plays on the track. 

A piano-driven bit of self-help mantra, it speaks of how “we feel consumed and drenched, deeming that there’s no way out of this chaos,” Hya shares, proceeding to talk of how, despite the easy-on-the-ears spirit of her material, “Songwriting doesn’t come easy.” She adds, “Whenever you’re in the zone, just keep that notepad close.” 

A “bob-worthy” follow-up track is in the works. But for now, a red-carpet rollout is in order. In a world which “sucks you in and spits you out,” Hya’s music is indeed a ray of sunshine. 

Stream Raindrops by Hya on your preferred music service: