MUSIC / Untethered: Armi Millare blooms in solo music journey 

By: Ica Hontiveros-Cheng

Armie Millare playing the koto, a Japanese instrument. 
© Niña Sandejas

Friday night in the heart of Manila. I was at Brooklyn Warehouse to see Japanese singer Ito Kashitaro perform, along with fans and followers of his music whom I was sure were younger than me by a number of years. Yes, I’m owning my Tita status. 

It was icing on the cake that former UDD frontwoman Armi Millare was a guest and opening the show. I was practically in college when Up Dharma Down was one of the most in demand acts in the local scene. Every hopeless romantic was belting out the band’s breakout song ‘Oo’ whether they were in tune or not. Years later ‘Tadhana’ became the song for every other wedding. Personally, my favorite track from them is ‘Turn It Well’. 

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Up Dharma Down/UDD perform live a number of times. They are always a band that draws the crowds and are always a favorite among local music lovers. So in 2021 when the band announced that lead vocalist and keyboardist Armi Millare would leave and continue on as a solo artist, fans and the local music scene was devastated. 

Millare continued to make music, collaborating with Norwegian band D’Sound, their third project “Run For Cover” was released in November of 2021. 

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait 

Fans need not miss the one-of-a-kind Millare as she announced in October this year that she will be releasing her single ‘Roots’. WIth a number of shows to promote the single and her comeback in the music scene. I was fortunate enough to catch one of her earlier shows. The second one, in fact. And this was the show! As a guest to Ito Kashitaro. (You can read more about Ito Kashitaro’s show here.) 

A symbol of her autonomy as an artist, her logo, an ‘A’ and an ‘M’ joined together, that it almost looks like a chair, flashed across the screens, as the band set up their instruments, a towering double bass capturing the attention of the crowd. 

Armie Millare enthralls the crowd with her new songs and old favorites. 
© Niña Sandejas


Dressed in a long chiffon black ensemble, Armi made her way to the stage, passing by the audience who cheered and clapped. Her famous short bob is now inches longer, “I’m both nervous and excited. It’s an honor to be here tonight.” She tells the crowd, who were all cheering and clapping for her. Despite the age gap between Millare and a good majority of the crowd, her name has such a strong recall that she had the crowd enthralled. 

Perhaps the choice of a lotus, as the album art of her new single ‘Roots’ is not just a coincidence, as the lotus is considered as a symbol of rebirth. And indeed, there was a change in Millare as a musician, yes, she did perform some of her new music, ‘Roots’ and ‘Whatever’ where she sings in the latter, “Whatever you need is something I can’t give you”. I’ve only heard the song once and I can’t wait to hear it again. Now I have something to look forward to in the next year, as Millare will be releasing her solo album ‘South Node’ in 2024. 

What’s In A Name? 

 Of course Armi performed crowd favorite songs from Up Dharma Down but with a twist! Coz that’s just how she is, she won’t just give you the same old song. For instance ‘Oo’ was rendered with a jazz style. While ‘Tadhana’ was performed with Millare playing a koto ~ a Japanese instrument, for a second I thought the big instrument they were setting up in the dark was Armie’s well known red Nord keyboard, but no! It was a koto! She sure is full of surprises. 

“She’s untethered” my husband Paul, who was with me during the show said. “She’s doing her own thing. She’s untethered from her past.” And I couldn’t agree more. 

Millare proved that she is more than just her name, and her past, and if her new music is any indication, we will definitely be getting more of this Armi, who has been reborn, and like the lotus which is the art for her new song, she is blooming and beautiful in her own element.