Words by MC Galang

LONER’s music, as it happens, is made for this strange and unexpected seasonal sadness. The latest iteration of Lean Ordinario’s dance music persona not only reflects but also contextualizes what happens around him, around us. 

“Pagbabago,” the standout track from his Into Midnight EP, translates literally and figuratively to “change.” The most immediate and visceral of which is the ongoing pandemic that shaped him and his music. Co-directed with Joaquin Dimayuga, the visuals of “Pagbabago” feels like a lost film of sights, scenes, and spaces that feel distant and foreign. “The energy of being in a sea of people or the spontaneity of meeting all these different faces can never be replaced by a Zoom event,” LONER shares in a statement.

He carries this sentiment, too, when it comes to manifesting cultural pride. Singing in Tagalog, LONER approaches Filipino sensibilities not with the imposing forcedness of a tourism ad, but with a matter-of-fact simplicity. When asked how he thinks dance music can be localized, language is just one way. Another is attitude and walking your walk (such as supporting local streetwear designers Wednesday and Meraki, as he is seen wearing on the music video). “To inspire someone to be shameless about their culture can create a ripple effect of even more representation.” 

Written while on lockdown, the track is also representative of the artist’s own learning experience. He sings, “The truth is in the streets,” in a generalized sense, far beyond his earnest goal of localizing dance music. To see things from another perspective. “Everybody was starting to open their eyes to injustice, myself included. My main intention for the song was that we should act now and change our future before it’s too late,” he tells The Rest Is Noise. “Sometimes, privileged people have so much to say about the struggles they don’t experience, clearly blinded from the reality of what’s really been going on.”