In 1996, when American record producer Kedar Massenburg signed Erykah Badu to his company, his goal was to introduce a new approach of combined soul music of the ’50s, hip-hop, and electronica to the audience. A genre birthed from a mixture of these musical styles that defied the orthodox and was hence known as “neo-soul.” Fast forward to 2014, neo-soul has been resilient, immune to the superficial formulas that have been thriving in the general state of mainstream music. One can attribute its longevity on how it is structured: conscious-driven lyrics, rooted on traditional arrangements but provide allowances for advancements on music production, and its effortless sensual effect.
Which brings us to June Marieezy.
When she released Heavy Eyes in 2011, she gave us a brief yet enough cushioning to get us comfortable with the type of material she’s offering – one that doesn’t come in abundance. It wasn’t Sinosikat, not quite Chillitees – but a little like both, maybe. Under Deeper Manila’s Justin de Guzman’s wing and the sisterly boost of Sarah Meier, her music gained more traction and gave her a formal introduction in Malasimbo Festival, followed by another performance in Manila Music Festival in 2012. Her collaboration with LDP’s Rjay in “Catch You” has significantly sped up what momentum June already had gaining. She embodies both casual and elegance in R&B at the same time. Her music is soul-based, yet one that easily adapts to a loose, progressive environment – which is why it’s unsurprising that her work with other artists such as Similarobjects’ Jorge Wieneke and Pasta Groove’s Paolo Garcia, further highlights and complements her musical palette easily.
Prior to the release of her second EP, Virgo, she released a track called “I’ve Been Here” on SoundCloud. It was one without melody aerobics, only remarked by austere simplicity. But looking back, it could have been a prelude to “Purple Tree”, a notable track in Virgo. “Purple Tree” best exemplifies June’s flair and style. Teamed with Paolo Garcia (Pasta Groove), her thoughts flourish without warranting any theatrical accompaniment, only an uncanny tinge to it. The overall visual and acoustic aesthetics of Virgo feels like as if drawn from lavish ambient and idiosyncratic elements. “Pass the good vibes,” sings June in “Nowhere”, a song that displays how acutely aware she is with the world and how it works. She states, not preach. It is her manifesto in life, accentuated with Jordan Hardy’s succulent jazzy undertones. In “Atin Cu Pung Singsing”, June gives a nod to the well-known Kapampangan folk song and adds her own blend to it. While the beginning gives off a rural, somewhat humbling feel, halfway into the song, it interpolates a striking union of keys and strings and joints her voice into the latter part’s pleasing moment. Its inclusion was an interesting and curious choice, especially with the propensity of sampling that a lot of artists have been incorporating with their own productions nowadays. Technical impositions aside, this technique inarguably breathes life to our classical (and in this case, cultural) roots. Win-win.
“Faces” bears an amalgamation of Justin De Guzman’s signature terse and unhurried suave arrangement with June’s detached vocals. Like something that comes off as radio static. Whether you’re lying under a tree gazing at the canopy of stars above, or cruising along the expressway at midnight, it blows the same cool breeze. The closing track, “Fly”, carves a dreamscape straight out of soft, lilting synths that could have blend in easily in the sounds of a quiet sea during nighttime. What’s most enduring is how June’s lyrical flow glides effortlessly, as if barring conventional restrictions to the words she can sing in one bar.
Virgo’s strength lies in its ability to maximize its genre’s perceived run-of-the-mill instrumentation and dabble tasteful details in it. Two extended plays after, her fans are surely yearning for a full-length record in the future. For now, she gives us a bigger room to get even more comfortable. For now.
Digital version available on: http://www.junemarieezy.com