Filipino bands

Meet Healy After Dark, the band behind the soundtrack of your romantic woes

Juno Reyes

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Meet Healy After Dark, the band behind the soundtrack of your romantic woes
Get to know the workings of the Pampanga-based ensemble behind the hit song 'Isip'

MANILA, Philippines – When Oyo Velasco uploaded his first single “You” on Spotify in 2020 under the stage name Healy After Dark, it had gotten 300,000 streams worldwide in just a few months’ time.

From then on, the one-man act had gotten invites to play at numerous small gigs in local cafes and events in Pampanga. Come 2022, Oyo had landed an opening act performance at an event singer-songwriter Arthur Nery would be headlining. While Oyo had been managing as a soloist at that point, he knew it would be difficult to successfully play for a large crowd alone.

But Oyo had always been fascinated at the thought of playing in a full-fledged band. After he set out to find sessionists for that Arthur Nery gig, the four-piece collective Healy After Dark was born.

Now composed of Oyo Velasco on vocals, Daniel Lozano on lead guitars, Alvin Santiago on bass, and Zach Gonzales on drums, Healy After Dark is here to play you the tunes of your dreams.

Doon pa lang, kahit wala pa kaming fans, I had this vision na lalaki ‘yung Healy After Dark talaga. Nasabi ko sa kanila habang nagre-rehearse kami, ‘If ever na lumaki, g ba kayo na ituloy natin ‘to na tayo ang lineup?'” said Oyo.

(From there, even though we didn’t have fans yet, I had this vision that Healy After Dark would make it big. I told the boys while we were rehearsing, “If we do make it big, are you down to continue this band with us four as the lineup?”)

As aspiring musicians who all share the same dream of one day playing on the big stage, it was a no-brainer for Daniel, Zach, and Alvin to join Oyo for the long journey Healy After Dark would be embarking on from then on.

On success of ‘Isip,’ and more

It’s been a long-running joke that once the clock strikes 10 pm, it’s time to “relapse” or go back to your hopeless romantic ways with Healy After Dark’s “Isip” playing in the background.

The four-minute song is arguably the dreamiest anthem for unrequited love. It has even established itself as one of the go-to mood-setters for K-pop alternate universe or AU fan fiction on TikTok.

“Isip” is the masterful translation of complicated feelings into a culmination of captivating lyrics and nostalgic instrumentals that has allowed it to remain at the top of many Filipinos’ playlists for months on end – especially after dark.

And that’s exactly what makes Healy After Dark’s music so special.

Meet Healy After Dark, the band behind the soundtrack of your romantic woes

“The best part [of our music] is that it’s very relatable. ‘Yung mga everyday na pinagdadaanan ‘nyo, pinagdadaanan din namin (We also go through your everyday woes). Same stuff sa heartbreak, love, betrayal…so ‘yung mga thoughts ‘nyo (your thoughts), napu-put ni Oyo (Oyo puts) into songs to comfort you or relate to you,” Zach shared.

“It’s very relatable hindi lang (not only) when it comes to lyrics, pati kung paano nakaayos ‘yung music (but also how the music is arranged),” Alvin added, emphasizing the important role the instrumentals play in hooking listeners.

Over time, Healy After Dark has even built a solid following on TikTok, often creating videos that bank on their music’s relatability.

On a random day in February 2023, Oyo posted a video of himself lip-syncing to “Isip,” telling fans they could use the short clip as a free pass to their future concerts.

@healyafterdark SAVE NIYO NA DALI LIMITED STOCKS ONLY #foryou #foryoupage #opm #adie #arthurnery #pasilyo #sunkissedlola #zacktabudlo @O/C Records @rico blanco ♬ Isip – Healy After Dark

He randomly thought to tag the Kean Cipriano-helmed label O/C Records in the caption, not knowing that Cipriano himself would end up liking the song and later signing the band in June 2023.

Since then, the only way has been forward for Healy After Dark.

Stepping on the big stage

Just recently, the band played its first-ever set at a big music festival, and the experience was nothing short of remarkable for all four of them.

It was at that moment when Healy After Dark’s members realized that they were finally on the big stage, living the reality they had only once dreamt of as kids.

Laking pasasalamat kasi nung time na sobrang dami nang tao, I remembered nung bata pa ‘ko, ako ‘yung mga nakikipagsiksikan doon…. Laking realization na although malayo pa kami, the fact na may step forward na kami doon, sobrang thankful ko and we’re lucky and we’re enjoying it,” Alvin expressed.

(I’m so thankful because when there were a lot of people already at the festival, I remembered the time I was squeezing my way through the large crowd when I was a kid. It was a big realization that although we’re still far from achieving our goals, I’m thankful of the fact that we already have a step forward and that we’re lucky and we’re enjoying it.)

“Every time we have a gig, whether small or big, it’s kind of surreal that there are people who admire us. ‘Di ako makapaniwala (I can’t believe) that there are people that are actually impressed by you and look up to you. I think that’s a very rewarding experience,” Daniel said.

But the ride hasn’t been easy for the Pampanga-based ensemble. With Manila still serving as the center of the local music scene, every gig is essentially a road trip for the band as they often endure four hours of back-and-forth travel from Pampanga to Manila and vice versa each time.

As individuals who have day jobs and other commitments outside of making music, juggling all these responsibilities is a taxing endeavor in itself.

Minsan nga, hindi na ako umuuwi sa bahay ‘pag sunod-sunod ‘yung gigs namin. Last time, one week akong hindi umuuwi ng bahay. Natutulog ako sa [office]. ‘Yun lang ‘yung mga sacrifices na I’m pretty sure they’re also willing to take. Kasi kaming apat, passion talaga namin ‘yung music,” admitted Oyo, who works as an electrical engineer.

(There are times when I wouldn’t come home anymore when we play at consecutive gigs. Last time, I didn’t come home for a week. I slept at my office. Those are just some of the sacrifices I’m pretty sure they’re also willing to take because the four of us are really passionate about music.)

Zach had also put taking his civil engineering licensure exam on hold to keep up with the demands of playing in a band. He had been scheduled to take the exam in November 2023 but opted to first act on the overflowing opportunities his passion for music had begun to hand to him.

Good friends, good music

While it’s apparent that pursuing their dream of making music is a balancing act, the one thing that makes it all worthwhile for Healy After Dark’s members is getting to share the stage with each other.

‘Yung dynamic namin ‘pag nagkakasama, parang nagto-tropahan lang…. If hindi kami banda, we’d still get along as friends (When we’re together, our dynamic is similar to that of a group of close friends…. If we weren’t a band, we’d still get along as friends),” Oyo attested.

In fact, their music video for “Ikaw” is a testament to this. In the retro-style montage, the three other band members are seen encouraging Oyo to approach the girl at the bowling alley.

Meet Healy After Dark, the band behind the soundtrack of your romantic woes

“Yes. Absolutely, yes,” Zach and Daniel said in unison, nodding vigorously when asked if the scene being depicted here was similar to their dynamic in real life.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that Healy After Dark is a group of good friends who just happen to be making good music together, and it doesn’t seem like this is changing anytime soon.

With the crazy past few months the band has had following their steady rise in the OPM scene, they are also set to drop new music soon: a single titled “Pwede Bang Dito Ka Muna,” along with an EP.

While the band couldn’t provide an exact date of release, listeners, both new and old, can expect to sing their hearts out to the band’s music again sometime this year. –

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Juno Reyes

Juno Reyes is a Life & Style and Entertainment multimedia reporter covering local music and art.