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Feeling drained, confused, or curious? Filipino band Hey June! has a song for you

While plunging into the discography of Hey June! on a random day, I was reminded of a Rainer Maria Rilke quote in 2019 film “Jojo Rabbit”: “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

This pops up in my head as I was going for a melodramatic dive into alt-rock track “Orasan” where the Filipino band sings, “Huwag matakot na mamuhay na merong kasayahan at iyakan (Don’t be afraid to live a life with happiness and sadness).”

In a sea of quotes bordering on toxic positivity, this particular advice is difficult to heed, but one you’d want to take to heart. It doesn’t claim that happiness is a perpetual requirement, but instead highlights how the sad stuff exists, and it’s okay to see them as they are. This seasoned-by-life-like line sounded both amusing and terrifying coming from a Gen Z outfit—but come to think of it, we do obsess over the passage of time (and not being able to ride it) even as young folks.

But what caught my attention even further was the context of the lyrics. “Orasan” seems to sound like an older person’s advice—or at least something the youth wants to hear from them—to the present generation, with “anak” being addressed to by the message.

When venting, young people often get the short end of the stick. Feeling stressed with school work? Someone might say they had a stricter school system decades ago. In emotional despair? Someone might downplay it and insist they had it worse in their youth (yet they survived, so how come you won’t?). Spending time figuring your way out of a confusing rut? Someone might think you’re wasting time on “trivial” things when there are “more important” matters.

And if you’re running out of ideas on where to confide in, this is where Hey June! steps in. Whether you’re dispirited, infatuated, confused, or curious, the three-piece Filipino band—composed of strangers-turned-friends—will give your feelings a home. 


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Apart from being named by Awit Awards as the 2023 breakthrough artist, passionate members Jim Mase (vocals, synth, and guitars), Coey Ballesteros (bass and backup vocals), and Aci Fodra (drums) have painted their year with their angsty, fun, and reflective debut album, “Curiosity Killed the Cat”. 

In our conversation, we sit down with the 2021-born band before their exclusive album listening party, exploring topics on being young, the best advice, and more.


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You each have a distinct identity when it comes to music. But as a group, what is your dynamic like? How do you make sure you’re aligned?

Jim: Siguro kailangan i-check ’yung sarili palagi na, “ito ’yung goal natin”. And we always go back from the start, na kung ano man ’yung purpose kung bakit kami nasa banda and everything, bakit nagsimula ’to? Tapos ang nagco-connect talaga sa amin is ’yung music mismo, and besides that, bonding talaga as a band.

Coey: At siguro na-solidify ’yung chemistry namin—na para kaming magkakapatid—kasi when we’re starting out, pandemic band kami, so nag-todo kami sa lock-in noon sa Velvet [Playground], sa studio ng management namin [na] Soupstar. Nag-lock-in kami—one week, two weeks. ’Yun ’yung nag-bonding talaga kami, tsaka making music, align kami sa music, nagshe-share kami lagi. Right now, two years in, parang sobrang close kami kasi tina-try namin talaga mag-share sa isa’t isa na hindi lang kami bandmates, [but also siblings].

Aci: Ever since naman, ’yung first three days namin na magkakasama, medyo may ilangan pa talaga at first, syempre, gagamayin mo muna kung anong ugali ni Jim, anong gusto ni Jim, doon ko nalaman na mabilis pala siya makatulog. Si Coey, mahilig sa pusa, mga ganun. Pero all throughout the years naman, doon namin natutunan na may differences talaga each person. Understanding talaga, pinaka—

Coey: Give way.

Aci: Totoo, totoo ‘yon.

Coey: Usap talaga.

Aci: Usap. 


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A huge chunk of your discography is very introspective. Every time I listen to it, I imagine it as the POV of someone young going through realizations in life. What do you think is the best thing about being young?

Jim: The best thing about being young is that you’re free—I don’t know, parang may perspective sa akin na habang bata ka pa, meron kang enerhiya para sa mga bagay. And along the way, you’ll learn through some mistakes, and you’ll learn through some wins and [successes]. Like sa mga songs na nagagawa ko, it’s very true [na] sometimes it can be in that aspect na parang “introspective,” tama. Mahilig akong mag-express ng thoughts ko in a way na gusto ko siyang maging creative and musically-inclined. Besides music, in other cases, ginagawa namin kung ano ’yung gusto namin through our creative process.

Coey: We learn as we grow. We’ve [been] very lucky to be experiencing a lot as a young band sa mga gigs. Nakakakuha kami ng mga inspiration sa mga gig, sa mga kwentuhan namin, sa experiences with friends, with life, with each other. Like, may mga songs kami na about energy, feeling weak, reminiscing, nostalgia, childhood. Also about struggles currently, how we feel life is turning us around. We’re young, [so] a lot of things are [still] happening.

Jim: Actually nasabi na nila halos lahat. Pero dagdag ko na lang, gaya ng sabi ni Coey, we learn as we go. ’Yun ’yung beauty ng pagiging bata mo. Parang nagce-crave ka pa ng mga gusto mong matutunan, nandun pa ’yung eagerness mo na matuto, nandun pa ’yung eagerness mo na i-figure out ’yung mga bagay na hindi mo pa nafi-figure out. Nandun ka pa sa exploration stage talaga na minsan maguguluhan ka sa sarili mo kung gusto mo ba talaga ’to i-pursue or hindi, pero at the end of the day pa rin naman, kung ano ’yung napupusuan mo, doon ka pa rin. 

What’s the best advice you’ve received from each other?

Aci: Usually, ’pag nagpe-perform kami, kunwari medyo bad day or bad performance, may times na medyo dinadamdam ko. “Sayang, ba’t nangyari ’yun? Nandun na eh, ganda sana ’yun eh. Napag-praktisan naman namin.” Pero pinapa-realize nila sa ’kin na—

Coey: Nag-practice tayo.

Aci: Nag-practice kami tapos handa naman kami so kung ano ’yung nangyari, nangyari na. Sabi [nila], “Mag-move on ka na, bawi tayo sa susunod.” ’Yun ’yung palagi kong naaalala sa kanila and pinaka-memorable. 

Jim: Keep the fire burning talaga. 

Coey: Sinasabi ko rin sa kanila, sobrang vocal ako sa pag-compliment sa kanila, tsaka kapag constructive criticism din syempre as a band gusto rin namin mag-improve lagi, and after every show ina-analyze namin. Pero most of the time, we’re happy with how we play and our music, so sinasabi ko, si Jim, ang galing niya magsulat. Lagi kong sinasabi ’di ba? (laughs)

Jim: Yeah. (laughs)

Coey: Ganda ng mga sinusulat niya. Si Aci rin, ang bilis niya mag-improve. Kinikilig naman kayo. (laughs)

Jim: Si Coey, magaling mag-bass na.

Coey: Kinakalyo pa rin. (laughs) Yeah, we’re very vocal with each other, sobrang affectionate din kami and also we help each other. We listen to constructive criticism to improve. And, enjoy lang kami, promise.

Check out the rest of our conversation with Hey June! in our latest Scout Backstage episode.

Read more: 

Jess Connelly on confidence, songwriting, and her ‘triple Gemini’ music 

Meet grentperez, the Fil-Aussie charmer behind smash hit ‘Cherry Wine’

P-pop group VXON just wants to be honest with you

Photos courtesy of UMG Philippines and from Hey June’s Instagram (@heyjunemusic)

Art by Ashley Valdenarro 


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