Hawaii musician who helped start 2 bands will rock out with both on the same night

Waipahu-based musician Jhune Liwanag will be performing a double feature opening act at the...
Waipahu-based musician Jhune Liwanag will be performing a double feature opening act at the Republik with two bands she co-founded on March 19.(Micheal Keany / Cody Ketchum)
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:05 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jhune Liwanag is a registered behavioral technician for kids with autism. She’s also a musician, heading to the stage this weekend to perform with two different bands she co-founded — back to back.

Her professional life and music life don’t seem connected, but Liwanag says they very much are.

“I try to teach my kids, what is it that would make your own heart happy?” she said. “Music was something that I tried to deny myself of for a really long time, I was listening to other people tell me that it was just a hobby. But I don’t want to do that to my kids, I don’t want to tell them that they’re not capable of doing something.”

On Sunday, Liwanag will bring her talents to the opening act at the Republik ― with back-to-back performances from both bands she co-founded. The bands are emo pop-punk band Aura Bora and all-girl, indie, pop-punk band Darlington. They will be opening for the noise-punk, girl group Otoboke Beaver from Kyoto.

It’s the first time either of the bands Liwanag co-founded have performed at the Republik.

It’s also the first time she’ll be performing for both on the same stage and on the same night.

“It’s going to be so much fun,” she said.

“These are the people I’ve made connections with creating music together and now we get to share it with everyone at the show, like, that’s so exciting.”

Liwanag’s love for music began young.

Despite feeling very lonely growing up on Oahu’s west side, she was able to find a community of like-minded people in Honolulu’s Chinatown that helped her cultivate her skills an artist and a musician.

Her friend, artist Erik Oseto, suggested they start a band together.

And Liwanag fell in love with writing music after their first session.

“It was such a beautiful thing,” she said.

“And it’s a thing that I didn’t even know I was like capable of doing. But it was through the help and encouragement of other people around me who really helped me envision that I could have a music career.”

First came the band Aura Bora, which Liwanag co-founded in 2014.

While there has been fluctuation to the band lineup, the current members are Will Adair (bass and vocals), Joey Green (drums), Caleb Harstfield (lead guitar), Jhune (rhythm guitar and vocals), and Ed Panen (guitar).

After years of playing locally, Aura Bora took a hiatus around 2017, as Caleb Hartsfield moved to LA to pursue a career in graphic design. The band has performed off and on occasionally on the West Coast since.

The performance at the Republik will be the first time Aura Bora has performed together in Hawaii since 2019.

“There’s a synchronicity between all of us that I feel very lucky to have with them, because of that, I’m hoping it will be like time both has and hasn’t passed once we get to playing together again” said Hartsfield.

After Aura Bora came Darlington, an all-girl, indie, pop-punk band that was formed at the beginning of the COVID pandemic by Liwanag and fellow musician Bree Song.

They came together during a difficult time where they were both longing for community, and began writing songs over video chat.

The other members of Darlington are Bree Song (bass and vocals), Locke Ketchum (drums), Mikko Quappaw (lead guitar), Jhune (rhythm guitar, keys, and vocals).

“I’d seen Bree, Locke, and Mikko all play in bands before. I really loved and respected them, and they could really hold their own. and it was so cool that we got this power group together of female musicians,” Liwanag said.

Darlington has consistently been playing shows locally since COVID restrictions have lifted.

“The chemistry is there and it took time and effort, but I’m glad we’re here now and really proud of our progress,” said Bree Song.

After years of hard work, a unique opportunity came along for both bands to perform as openers for Otoboke Beaver on their 2023 North American tour. The band has garnered praise from the likes of Pitchfork, and NPR, and in 2017 they were nominated for Best Live Act at the AIM Independent Music Awards.

Tickets to the show at the Republik begin at $30. Get tickets here.