A story of brutal and beautiful honesty told in seven songs, Frankie Pangilinan invites us to abOUT hER SPACE, where overtures of sentiment and fragments of intimacy cut deeper than tyl and Battlescars.
“She’s brave and honest… / And honestly? Everything I wish I was. / She’s everything good in me, / And every worthless mistake I’ve ever made,” and so begins maybe, the haunting track that whisks us away from whatever occupies our time at the present and into the imagination of Frankie Pangilinan. While the first voice we hear is not of the singer and songwriter stepping into her alter ego, Kakie, this overture of sentiment wastes no time cutting deep. Eventually, we hear the gentle traipsing of her otherworldly vocals that fill up the cavernous orchestration with an endearing and earnest proposition of memory. “I found a note you wrote me way back when / I couldn’t breathe,” she sings. “And now it’s all I have / it’s proof you loved me / you used to love me.”
There is a persisting pain and lingering loneliness pressed into the spine of abOUT hER SPACE, the 7-track release that surprisingly predated everything Kakie has allowed the world to hear from her so far. You see, everything Frankie Pangilinan does is not only passionate, but extremely personal—this heartfelt musical exposition being no exception. Realized in fragments of intimate moments made permanent in song, the undertaking is more than just her heart worn on her sleeves, but her soul bursting from the seams, compelling one to examine long-buried memories in an exercise of introspection. This couldn’t have been truer than with Kakie herself.
“I learned more about myself, pushed my voice a little further each time, surrendered to the idea that perfection does not exist. I cursed incessantly at the girl I used to be, and then found the strength to forgive her when I realized she’d done nothing but given me fragments of a story she couldn’t write, knowing that only I could,” she says of the creative process of abOUT hER SPACE. “I also developed a liking for cold brew coffee.”
The Feelings Of Frankie Pangilinan
Sips of coffee and swigs of beer aside, abOUT hER SPACE doesn’t wear you out with sadness. In fact, it only springs from this place of seeming hopelessness into a space of exploration and discovery, as one does over the many overlapping trajectories of growing up. “I wrote many of these songs years ago; recorded them with a semi-shattered iPhone in the wee hours of the morning (my natural habitat) and transferred the files onto a USB, then didn’t pay them any mind for at least two years,” recalls Kakie.
“I swore to myself I wouldn’t open those songs until I was no longer saddened by naive things. And here we are now, having rummaged through the files with a little less ache and a little more bravery, offering a body of work to the world that sounds exactly how I imagined it would. It is the first of my music that I’m truly, deeply, wholeheartedly proud to claim. And I’m saddened that it took me this long to arrive at this place artistically, but am deeply overjoyed that I’ve arrived here at all.”
As emotionally exuberant and charged with feelings as abOUT hER SPACE is, there is also a lot of hope laced from end to end. You know, the type that is brave and bookended by faith in things falling into place eventually. Seamless in its storytelling, it glides from texture, tension, and truth, as evidenced in the brimming of youth in afterparty (“Why don’t we just talk to each other? / Why are we all scared to be lovers?), the waltz-like slow dance in don’t tell me you love me just to be kind (“Falling much farther / Into a pool of pain/ sky’s looking darker / but I would prefer the rain”), and the gnawing grief concealed in an homage to her written fictional work, gone (“Drowned in douses of disdain / Knowing I can’t follow where he runs / and I came undone”).
About Her Space
With stories and a universe in hand, Frankie Pangilinan charged into abOUT hER SPACE heart first, naturally. But in order to properly sculpt her truth into its full potential, she had to be guided by like-minded and inspired people who not only respect her music, but her vision as well.
“I kept them apart from myself very nervously, maybe in some misguided attempt to dissociate from what they epitomize…It felt sort of like having old film developed and then sticking the photographs onto a scrapbook, covering them in glitter and colorful stickers, all the while trying to ignore the faint sting (or the sting I knew should have probably been there) that came with having realized certain people in the photos weren’t in my life anymore,” she describes in generous detail. “There were long showers (to reap every last advantage of those acoustics, of course), longer nights, hundreds of handwritten notes and pages, infinite ‘study’ sessions (which really just involved listening to lots of the same songs over and over and crying myself to sleep at night over the sheer beauty of a snappy bass or an atmospheric pad), and many a bottle of San Mig Light.”
This is where the boys of Kindred Productions (Jorge Wieneke, VINCED, Cavill, Fern, and Obi) come in, an assemblage of fellows with feelings all but raring and ready to give Kakie and her songs the musical experience it rightfully deserves. Unyielding, meticulous, and, damn good at what they do. “They are everything I was looking for and more—and I cannot begin to explain just how much greater life is with them in it,” shares Frankie Pangilinan of their creative synthesis, which all began with just a tweet. “They are talented to the point of my own embarrassment, but somehow still incredibly humble and hilarious and like just a bunch of incredibly intelligent kids.”
Lucid and focused in intent and purpose, abOUT hER SPACE reveals itself to be that conversation of catharsis you try so hard to deny, stalling it at every given moment with every bit of distraction you can muster. But when the rest of the world slows down, and the rhythm of your spirit relents, you confront all the unsaid, coming to terms one word, note, and scat at a time. Finally, someone understands what you’ve been feeling.
Rounding out this function of clarity is the interlude of self-awareness that is lost (“Lost in the feelings of— / Will I ever be enough?), the tender telling of shatter (“I know that I’ll take the pain / If it means that you never have to feel the same”), and the jazzy stride of confidence in hurting (“When I stop hurting / Will it mean I don’t love you anymore”). Essayed in her smoky and searing signature, Kakie navigates this chapter on her own terms.
“I spent a lot of time when I was younger trying to categorize what I do, what I write, what I make, seeking clarity in identity, only to realize that nobody has to do those things,” contemplates Frankie Pangilinan. “I will say, though, that I find myself consistently drawn to building a story. Everything I do for the next couple years will all be part of the same story. And it’ll be fun, I think, to watch those pieces come together.” For now, however, we have the vivid and vulnerable glory of abOUT hER SPACE and all its sinewy entanglements to thresh out until the next story comes along. While making sense of things primarily operates on uncertainty, we at least have something to soundtrack our approximation of acceptance, whatever and whenever that may be.
In For The Ride
“I hope someone out there hears me,” Frankie Pangilinan says, her words resonant with sincerity. “I hope I can start learning to give myself a pat on the back. So often I catch myself seeking the validation of others with such intensity that I end up sorely lacking my own. I know I don’t have to prove myself, but in a strange way, I hope this proves something to myself. I’m unsure what yet. I know I said hope a lot. I’m trying to fill myself with more hope than dread, I’ve found there’s an incredibly thin line between the two.”
As the last song from abOUt hER SPACE trails into a momentary oblivion, perhaps its sediments settling into the chasm of your own understanding, it becomes clear that there is more to it than just the bounty and beauty of a broken heart. “My dad’s embedded a great deal of agricultural enthusiasm in me, and one of the greatest lessons of farming is that the best fruits are shaped by hardship. There is no growth without rain, no yield without toil and labor. A broken heart therefore must inevitably mean something in the end,” she says, as if wiping the tears of whoever reads and listens. (Spoiler alert: me.)
A promise fulfilled from the juvenile to the just, this collection of charm and candor is further proof that if there is anything good that comes from being stubborn is that a sense of wonder is never lost. “I’m building a world here, and this is just chapter one,” she finishes, ready to hop on the spaceship her father built with narra branches from their backyard. “I can’t wait to fly elsewhere.”
Wherever that is, we’re in for the ride, irrevocably.