Lola Amour’s #FallenStory challenge brings out love confessions

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Lola Amour�s #FallenStory challenge brings out love confessions
The idea of starting the #FallenStory challenge on TikTok came after Lola Amour saw how fans reacted to the YouTube premiere of the band’s latest song, Fallen.

MANILA, Philippines — “What if I told you that I’ve fallen?” Rising band Lola Amour sings on its latest single Fallen, which has since spawned the #FallenStory challenge on TikTok with over 6.3M views to date and netizens sharing photos “before and after” love confessions.

Interestingly, Fallen isn’t about falling in love but about the backpedals that come with being sure that your feelings are unrequited, the band explained in a statement.

Pio Dumayas, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, shared his own #FallenStory behind the song he wrote in 2019, in a virtual chat hosted by music label Warner Music Philippines. “It’s based on a personal experience (in college). It was with a friend that I got close to. I didn’t feel optimistic about where it would go but happy ako sa feeling na nangyayari. Parang, what if I told you I’ve fallen? Pero never mind,” Pio told The STAR.

“Happy na ako sa feeling na yun, pero ayoko i-pursue kasi pampagulo lang siya. I wrote this song right after that whole life event. She knew (about the song) kasi pinakita ko rin sa kanya because we stayed friends.”

Fallen was supposed to be released in April 2020, with 60 percent of the track recorded early last year. Bassist Raymond King said, “Because of the lockdowns, we were only able to continue in early 2021. That lull was both good and bad for us. It was good because we had enough time to digest the song. We had the luxury to change anything we didn’t like. On the other hand, and I don’t know if it was just me, but it was bad because we felt like we outgrew the song somehow. Still, the pros outweigh the cons.”

The bright idea of starting the #FallenStory challenge came after their single premiered on YouTube. The band saw fans commenting during the live chat that “they wanted to let their crushes know they’ve Fallen.”

Thinking it was a great way to connect with people, they did the #FallenStory challenge first with their fans on the group-chatting platform Discord and then on TikTok.

“Now, seeing all the people who did the challenge, I feel like we got closer to our listeners. Knowing that we have similar stories makes me feel like we played it for them at a gig and got to know them better,” Raymond said.

Fallen comes after the 2020 reworking of Lola Amour’s 2017 debut EP Don’t Look Back — another record “released at the worst timing,” as the band put it. The lack of live shows hit the band hard, and they struggled to adapt right away to the online setup when the pandemic began. “We thought being absent for a few months would lead to us being missed. We thought newer releases would do well,” said Raymond.

Band vocalist Pio Dumayas (top) and new member David Yuhico during the virtual interview with STAR.

“Sadly, our first pandemic release, Don’t Look Back Revisited, was released at the worst timing, right when Typhoon Ulysses hit the country. With everything that was happening, it did not feel right to promote the EP at that time. Qualitatively, the reception was good and, as always, our fans were there to support us. However, it wasn’t the comeback we envisioned. Many other factors led to this result, but that didn’t faze us.”

Good thing, it’s been a different story with Fallen as it’s been receiving “a lot of great feedback and is continuously being streamed more times than we expected. We really owe it to the fans for their continuous support even during the pandemic,” said Raymond.

Apart from Pio and Raymond, Lola Amour members are Jose Angelo Mesina (trumpet), Enrico Santos (drums), Julian Zoe Gonzales (electric guitar), Joseph “Joxx” Perez (saxophone), Emilio Dumayas (trumpet) and Seungwon Kang (trombone). Keyboardist Seok Jin “Martin” Kim, on the other hand, returned to Korea due to the pandemic.

Martin’s departure was tough on the band. “Having to let someone, who had contributed so much to our sound, (go) was both sad and scary. A lot of the keyboard hooks would actually come from the uniqueness of his perspective on the instrument itself,” Raymond said. “So, yes, I think a lot of things would be different moving forward; but that is still to be heard.”

Lola Amour has since found a replacement in David Yuhico, who was previously helping the band as keyboard sessionist, sound engineer and music consultant. A friend of Pio since college days at UP, he left for the US to study film scoring at Berklee College of Music, but had to come home also because of the pandemic. David and Pio mused they started out as DOTA mates who did music covers during breaks, including a Justin Timberlake song they posted on Facebook and became a “big hit.”

“After having David onboard, I think even the quality of the actual songs would improve. Because he has a background in composition and sound engineering, I think our coming releases would have more depth, instrument-wise,” Raymond said.

Meanwhile, Lola Amour is marking its fifth anniversary this 2021. In case you don’t know, there’s a cute story behind its interesting name. Pio said, “Noong high school kasi (at De La Salle Zobel), we were one big barkada, it was split into two bands. It was me, Renzo and Joxx. We were called Sinigang na Baboy. The other half was Raymond, Martin and Zoe. Mahilig kami mag-battle of the bands and mag-perform sa school events. In college, nagsawa na kami sa style namin (so) we decided to combine.”

Their band name was created right before competing in another band contest at the 2017 Wanderland music festival. “Last selection process namin, sino ang may pinakamagandang pangalan ng lola? Nanalo ‘yung lola ko, si Lola Amor! Pero walang u ‘yung Lola Amor,” Pio laughed, adding that his now “90-year-old and still healthy” lola is very aware and updated about the band named after her.

Winning at Wanderland had them breaking into the mainstream music scene. They eventually found more help from fan-turned-manager Mika Ordoñez, who had brand management experience. “Through distribution (via Warner Music Philippines), and just making the right moves on social media and the gigging scene, we were able to scale and make it to the mainstream.”

Pio revealed that Lola Amour is a passion project and that members have jobs outside the band. For one, Pio works for Vice Asia as video editor while Raymond is CEO of his family business. There’s also a banker, software engineer, programmer and even medical student among them. Perhaps, David has the most “music-oriented” work as he makes soundtracks and sound effects for an international videogame company. Lola Amour is a passion project, yes, but “a lot of times, it feels full-time because of the amount of work,” David mused.

Pio further reflected on their journey: “We’ve come so far. It’s been five years of seeing each other every weekend, although not now because of the pandemic. We do this as a passion project but it’s hard to imagine what life will be like once the band can’t continue anymore, kasi priority namin yung personal life namin… ‘pag may pamilya na kami, baka mahirap na. But it’s been really fun. I can’t imagine myself without a band. It’s second nature.”

Their band identity from the start is also what keeps them going in the industry despite challenges.

Said Pio, “Until now, our strength as a band is that we’ve been friends since high school, tropa kami and we’re very connected to our fans, we treat them like friends and if there are gigs, we hang out with them. Kinakamusta pa rin kami ngayon, nagpo-podcast kami, ma-fan service kami.”

What’s next for Lola Amour? They’re set to release more music they’ve been working on since March 2021 and these will reflect where they are now, musically.

“One of the things that really developed during the pandemic was our skills, musically. Pag nag-gig ka and nagkamali ka, just don’t make a face and di malalaman ng audience. But pag nagre-record ka ng online gig or demo, kailangan tama ang ginagawa mo. When you’re recording with your bandmates, you hear their mistakes, so gumagaling ka rin mag-arrange and play,” Pio said.

The pandemic also allowed them time to write more and talk more about creative decisions. He added, “I think with our upcoming songs, they sound a lot better than those we have now. Fallen is included in the improvement era.”

(Fallen is now available on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube.)

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