The Wonderfruit Festival act talks about bringing one’s self out of a dark place
In 2007, R&B Neo-Soul singer August Wahh moved to Manila to pursue music. She grew up around nature—and danger—having been born and raised in a militarized province in the southern part of the country; this eventually shaped her unique worldview. Earlier this year, she released her first EP, the dreamlike Labyrinth.
Last July, she opened for Daniel Caesar for his second concert in the country alongside local producer crwn. In August, she also opened for Portuguese-American DJ and producer RAC for Karpos Live Mix 5 with her prominent collaborator. This December, she’s playing her first international gig for the annual Wonderfruit Festival, a sustainable lifestyle festival based in Thailand. For their fifth year, they’re reimagining a utopian society through a “pop-up city.”
With 600,000+ streams from 100,000+ listeners over the course of the year, she’s only begun making her mark in the industry. On creating her music, she finds inspiration in the “synergy of chaos and serenity, the brilliant and mundane.” We reached out to the singer-songwriter to talk more about how she brought herself out from a dark place with the help of music.
Wonder: I watched you perform with crwn during the Karpos Live event in August (no pun intended). I think your performance was the highlight of my night—even better than RAC! Surely you’ve been asked this a lot, but why the name?
Aww thank you! That was such a fun show. August Wahh is a play on my name. August because I was named after my birthday and Wahh is basically my last name flipped in reverse.
W: Aside from Karpos Live Mix 5, any other events you loved playing this year? What was your most memorable one?
The Daniel Caesar gig held in KIA Theatre was a pretty memorable one. Everything was just perfect: the crowd, the vibe, the sound. I loved that I was able to interact with them while performing. I could just feel our energies bouncing off of each other. The crowd, crwn and I just all connected in that time and space, and it was surreal.
W: Our contributor (and also singer-songwriter) Niki Colet wrote about your EP launch in May. Can you tell us why you dubbed it as the “depression album?” Was creating this EP your way of healing?
In a way, it is a “Depression EP.” It was my way of trying to grasp and process the situation I was in at that time. The whole EP was [about] acknowledging my predicament—and that it was okay. Acknowledging all the emotions I felt moved me and made me experience things I’ve never felt before, essentially, to transform parts of me.
And yes, very healing. People were messaging me left and right telling me about their personal experiences of abuse. Old friends whom I thought I lost and never thought I would ever reconnect with came forward sharing their stories as well. Writing the EP and telling my truth catapulted me [into] a series of beautiful experiences that promoted healing within me and to the people that were in [similar] situations. This EP rippled everywhere, and I am grateful and happy to have helped out this way.
W: Any personal favorite from the collection?
Gaslight and Blue Dreams are my favorite. Writing Gaslight was the very first track crwn and I made in the EP. Writing it was freeing in a sense where I [was] able to finally express what was happening to me at that time—instead of just feeling constantly doomed. Writing it gave my experience [an identity]; that way, it was easier to find a solution.
Blue Dreams is also a favorite because it’s funny when you realize you can’t control everything. You either keep trying and end up attaching yourself to an outcome, or you free yourself from a situation you can no longer change. Blue Dreams is a song about knowing that you’re good no matter what. In a way, it’s a “bahala na” moment after you’ve done everything you could—and to just enjoy the ride from that point on.
W: What’s next for August Waah? Anything under wraps?
I have new songs coming your way soon and I’m stoked to say I’m playing in Wonderfruit this December!
Stream Labyrinth on Spotify.
Art Alexandra Lara