The Vowels They Orbit and the Communion of Selosos and Selosas
The rising pop-rock act The Vowels They Orbit softens the blows of jealousy with beer and band-aids
Most of us have been slaves to jealousy at least once in our lives, like when our parents favor one of our siblings over us, or when a friend meets someone cooler than we are, or even when inanimate objects take too much of our loved ones’ attention. One form of jealousy rears its ugly head more often than others, though: the romantic type. For every love song written, there may as well be another for its setbacks, right? Enter indie pop-rock outfit The Vowels They Orbit who premiered the music video for their latest single Selos in 70’s Bistro on July 10. Penned by Darwin Hernandez, the same mind behind Moonstar 88’s hit Torete, Selos depicts that familiar feeling of being helplessly weighed down by the green-eyed monster.
In the lyric video the band released for the song last May, a hand gradually lines up keepsakes at the bottom of a plastic tub—a polaroid, an infinity ring, movie and concert tickets, a postcard, dried flowers, bottle caps, among others—and then submerges all of them in beer, taking the lyric “ipapaanod na ba sa alak” a little too literally. The band brought turned this imagery tangible on the night of the launch: right outside the venue, a different tub of beer stood, ready to be littered with keepsakes and notes from the night’s guests who carried the weight of their own resounding heartbreaks. The corridor leading to the bar saw walls plastered with the song’s lyrics repeatedly scribbled on sheets of paper, the tiny space a communion of sorrows and, well, jealousy.
Past that corridor, things started to loosen up and feel like home. Picture a wall of band photos and Christmas lights, the tub of keepsakes from the lyric video (perhaps yet to be filled with some more beer?), mic stands and amplifiers draped with plushies and stuffed animals. With performances by Where’s Ramona?, I Belong to the Zoo, Autotelic, and fellow-Soupstar acts Moonstar 88, Better Days, Gracenote, and The Vowels They Orbit themselves, the night became an unabashed gathering of selosos and selosas. Guests were also encouraged to participate in a raffle that let us answer the question “Tuwing kailan ka nag-seselos?” on pink and blue post-its, with buckets of beer, t-shirts that said “binabaliw ako ng selos,” and the band’s very own “selos kit” on the line.
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The kit’s contents almost turn the band into first responders for heartbreak. There’s a pack of tissues for your tears, some band-aids for the emotional wounds, a bottle opener for those beers, a notebook to lay out all those grudges and feelings, some stickers and temporary tattoos to cover up those symbolic scars, and a letter from the band themselves, as if they wanted to usher us along this path of jealousy with the least amount of blows possible. Some Konsulta MD subscriptions were up for grabs too, because hey, who’s to say just how bad emotional wounds can get? Now if that’s not some real looking out, I don’t know what is.
So when exactly have the night’s selosos and selosas gotten jealous, then? Raffle winners picked in random included:
- When an S.O. reminisces about their childhood friend,
- When an S.O. tells them he doesn’t have time but then goes ahead and spends it with someone else,
- When an S.O. eats sampgyupsal without them (my personal favorite),
- When an S.O. thinks about food first before thinking of them,
- And most relatable of all (so relatable, it appeared more than once), when one encounters just the mere sight of their S.O. with someone else.
That last one in particular incited an “aww” and an “ouch” from the crowd, as well as cries of support from the night’s host, Yes FM’s Shai Tisai.
The official music video premiered right before the The Vowels’ set with everyone’s eyes glued to the projectors. Vocalist/guitarist Nikka Melchor stars as a hostile girlfriend opposite drummer/vocalist Jeremy Sayas who appears as a boyfriend flirting with some stuffed animals and stick ponies until he’s made to wear actual horse blinders to keep him from looking elsewhere. The image of Jeremy in blinders packs a punch—it’s not just about preventing him from looking at other girls (ponies?), it’s telling of how oblivious he is to Nikka’s feelings, too. The video is speckled with performance scenes shot in BGC’s Oceans’ Telephone Co., as well as impromptu dance shots from the rest of the band (keyboardist/vocalist Hannah de la Cruz, guitarist Gene Santiago, and bassist Patch Javier), under the direction of Andrei Antonio.
With the slew of responses to the raffle and the very concept of jealousy having to involve a “someone/something else,” the song surprisingly has no mention of an other, and uses stuffed animals (versus a human being) in the music video. If anything, it allows viewers to zero in on the headspace of the jealous one and the insecurity that comes with such feelings. Nikka with both her deadpan and hostile expressions is the apparent star, her vocals on the chorus holding more weight with each repetition.
As they closed their set with the song, their fans (aptly called Orbiters) raised and waved strips of paper with the words printed: SELOS, SELOS, SELOSA.
With the Selos music video launch, The Vowels They Orbit carefully carved a space for selosos and selosas to come together and tell their own stories. They took that very isolating experience of jealousy and somehow relieves it of shame, as if saying: if we couldn’t get that reassurance we needed from a significant other, we might as well find respite within each other.
Having recently signed with Sony Music, The Vowels They Orbit definitely has us looking forward to the more performances around the metro alongside the release of their first EP this year. The Selos music video will be premiering on Myx and YouTube soon, but in the meantime, show the band some love on Spotify, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Words and Photos Beatrice Mata
Art Alexandra Lara