MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Fresh from the success of her directorial debut My Amanda in July, Alessandra de Rossi is now setting her sights on different waters. This time around it’s music, which she’s revisited more vigorously as of late: adopting the functional moniker ADR, reissuing her 2012 debut Adrift via Lilystars Records, even penning songs for her films.
The difference is it’s other people’s music now. And no, De Rossi isn’t simply pimping playlists or fawning over new discoveries on her socials. She’s taking things a notch higher, putting up her own label AWOOO Records, which she formally unveiled to the public last September 24 after making an under-the-radar announcement earlier in the month.
To the character-actress-turned-indie-darling, it’s not so much about scratching a visionary itch but passing deserving talents the mic. “I think [Filipinos] really stand a chance in changing how the world looks and sounds,” she says, confident that local music can enjoy the same attention other art forms like cinema are getting. “All we need is to offer something pure, peculiar, and distinct. I think we can make it, too!”
And “pure, peculiar, and distinct” was precisely what she saw in AWOOO’s two inaugural artists, both women: the Fil-German San Carlos City chanteuse Hya, and the SoCal-based singer-songwriter Alfa. The former was a talent-show champ who’s previously made the rounds—Rising Stars Philippines, Just Duet, The Will to Win—before landing a spot in Bangon Talentadong Pinoy, where De Rossi was a judge who found herself fangirling instantly.
“She sounded like an angel, and my world just stopped. I knew in my heart that this girl, given a chance, could be someone new singers can look up to,” De Rossi says of Hya (or Lee’Anna Weber Layumas), whose impressive range and knack for soothing melodies the actress also singled out. Her lilting debut single “Raindrops,” arranged and co-produced with Nick Lazaro for La Balls Studio, is out today.
Alfa, whom Eric Gnezda of PBS’ Songs at the Center calls “everything you want in a singer-songwriter,” is a schooled multi-instrumentalist who gravitated towards songcraft very early on, eventually releasing three albums, an EP, and snagging herself top honors in the world category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2020.
While shades of chillwave and ambient pop permeate the music of AWOOO’s banner artists, De Rossi insists she is more after a feeling. “As long as you make me feel something, or if you make me feel like I’m not alone—when your music can be my best friend—it really becomes AWOOO,” she says playfully, speaking of how Hya provides “courage in times of unrest” and how Alfa “sings like no one is listening.”
AWOOO, which means “a world of our own,” is a sublabel of Lilystars Records, whose head honcho Clem Castro serves as partner and de facto adviser.
“It took twenty years for people to actually believe in me,” the AWOOO label head says, alluding to her slow but steady ascent in film and television. “I hope God blesses me with the right people so that I can serve these artists and they don’t have to wait as long to be heard and understood.”