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The Five Faces Of E.via
If you add in her sounds, her faces number way more than five. This is not strange, to be a variety; but art and commerce and branding often constrain acts to only a few concepts, as does a focus on what you're considered best at; e.g., "I am the underground speed rapper" or "I have switched to an elegant and sexy image." Whereas E.via's chosen to vary and multiply her constraints, rather than constraining herself to a few.*

She's promoted herself with five videos that I know of, each drastically different from the others. What they share is a tendency to go meta, to be about image making and the choices facing her ("image" in the broad sense of "public image," not just "what I look like" or "the way the video shot is framed").


She starts in cutie-pie schoolgirl costume, taking on a succession of idol-girl poses as her crew show up and look at her in disgust. Then she laughs it off, leaves the idol set behind (a billboard in the sky), dances off to the real rap, none of this pop nonsense. But note her colorful shirts, and at the idol-parody start, the bright graffiti wall behind her, the colors then reflecting into the glass of the high rises as she abandons idol and goes into the song itself. And in the starting parody, she's not dancing to idol-style music but to her own composition: dreamy, hazy, superimposed sounds. Premonition of the finger-painting color creativity of future videos.

[EDIT: I meant to point out here that the EP that this vid supports (E.via a.k.a. Happy E.vil) is loaded with mood pieces, interludes, skits, and airchecks, so it's like a soundscape from which tracks and raps emerge. To break it down, the EP is 42 minutes, of which 15 minutes are five fairly focused rap tracks or songs, another 14 minutes are alternate versions of four of these, another 11 minutes are four of what I'll call "mood pieces" that contain some speaking, rapping, and singing within the instrumentals and sound effects (including "Hands And Feet," with which she begins the "Hey" video), and another 4 minutes are airchecks, radio IDs, radio patter, and skits. All of these are interspersed with one another, of course. This set the tone for EPs to come, though the later are shorter.]


"Shake!" Now she's full-scale cute, in sight and sound; but expanding on her rep for dirtyrap, she makes a tit-and-tush vid where her own sexiness is a factor but she's the one holding the megaphone and directing the dancers to shake their butts. So she's the master of ceremonies: models dancing while embedded in fashion-mag graphics, E.via in charge. I've written about this before: she's having cake and eating cake, critiquing the sex sell while using the sex to sell.

"Pick Up! U!"

A.k.a. Pikachu. Combines comic book, gossip rag, and Terry Gilliam. Sound is kiddie-pop, but that doesn't mean the lyrics shun the pick-up scene. (I don't know, not finding a translation; but given where her lyrics trend...) Stone statues in the fore, E.via's a fairy godmother, tapping with her wand and bringing dancers to life.

"Crazy Fate" a.k.a. "Insanity Love"

The scorched earth of a desolating breakup. "Crazy" and "insanity" here have zero to do with fun. "There's nothing to look forward to these days except TV dramas." (Pop!Gasa's English translation.) Hair up, and severe and disturbing, she's no longer the impish art sprite of her previous vids; today she's the elegant art bitch, Capital-A Artist. But this approach was on the edge of her repertoire from the get-go, all those moods and interludes, restless sounds from the margins. "Crazy Fate" is actually my least favorite on the generally excellent and arty E.viagradation Part 1. (Black & Red). The other tracks are moods and sounds; this one's a collaboration with a real singer to produce a real singer-and-melody song, which is where, throughout her oeuvre, she's tended to go blah. That's relatively speaking, since I wouldn't call this blah.**

"I Know How To Play A Little"

And she leaps into the International Goofball Dance (see the Austral-Romanian Empire), the chorus a take-off on you-know-what, and E.via back to catchy and bratty. The record-label (Dline Art Media) is pushing a UCC video (user-created content). E.via's a brief totem at the start. Then the funny fanboys take over, taking her invitation to shake to include them. Imps and sprites come in all shapes and sizes.

Not necessarily relevant to this discussion, but something that I hope to post about: E.via's not only an art-and-music hero, she's a human-being hero too. As far as I know, she and former After School member Kahi have been the only current music performers of any stature anywhere to speak out against the Internet mob's attack on T-ara. I don't totally know how to interpret what E.via wrote, which of course I only know from translation. But she spoke of a witch-hunt. And she stood tall.

*That is, she uses a range of forms and styles (all of which make certain demands, which is to say impose constraints that one has to work with), but doesn't constrain herself to only the forms and styles (i.e., constraints) that she's used previously.

**But being a wiseass, I do recall Tom Lehrer's impassioned declaration: "My heart is in my hand.... Yeccch!"

[UPDATE: Turns out she has six video faces; see the comment thread.]

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Wow! Thanks for this. I'd either missed it the first time around or saw it but it failed to register.

When I first heard the song, on her first EP, I conceptualized it as "obligatory ballad," and didn't like it much. I'm still not a giant fan, but it makes more sense now, as a mood and a wisp, a memory. Interesting how in the vid the diary pages become pictures on the wall; seems odd at first, since the essence of diary pages are that they're private, while framed pictures are fundamentally public. But it makes sense, when the camera pulls back and E.via's looking at the display: here are her feelings, her lost love, a time past. Ray Davies: "People take pictures of each other, just to prove that they really existed" and "Picture book, pictures of your mama, taken by your papa, a long time ago/Picture book, of people with each other, to prove they love each other, a long time ago"; happy guy. But E.via's not as despairing; the love's lost but she's not denigrating the diary for recording the forever that wasn't. Isn't denigrating what was, just mourning it, missing it, while also, it seems, putting it in its place.

The song isn't as sappy as I'd originally taken it.

my favorite e.via cut


According to the the video poster:
"E.via used to be an underground rapper and she called herself Napper! But when she was discovered they decided that she needed a somewhat different image and thus also a different name (E.via). E.via is the new style & Napper is her old style rapping"

The lyrics are somewhat melodramatic. Is she bemoaning loss of her former self? hmmm... idk

Anyway, just found another interesting rapper. Nam Soo-Rim aks Rimi. I don't know anything about her but the flow in this song/mv is nice.


Some of her other MVs:



Re: my favorite e.via cut

I didn't know that! Had assumed "Napper" was someone else.

Of course, she never really abandons her old voices, just adds new ones.

I wonder who "they" are who "decided" that she needed a somewhat different image. I can't imagine they could have persuaded her if she didn't want to go in various other directions anyway.

I like the deep vocal presence of Nam Soo-Rim, and how that deepness undergirds the upper-register prettiness. Haven't had the chance to pay more than glancing attention to those tracks, though. The vids imply that dating her might pose risks.

Edited at 2012-10-30 07:27 pm (UTC)

Re: my favorite e.via cut

I ended up exploring Rimi/Nam Soo-Rim further when she showed up on the Jukebox. Think I like the hardcore-rap Rimi and the comedy Rimi more than the sensitive-indie Nam Soo Rim, though I'm curious what she'll do next.

Someone in Japan must be paying attention to super-kawaii Korean rappers, because here's tween idol group Prizmmy☆ ripping off the megaphone-wielding e.via from "Shake!" (minus the booty-shaking, of course, but with rapping). Skip to 0:54 if you're in a hurry or can't stand squeeky, autotuned Japanese schoolgirls.

P.S. One arama commentator says "Damn, wish I was even fractionally this cool when I was in elementary school."

I actually like the squeaky Auto-tune part.

So far, J-pop hasn't reached me. I expect that one day it'll suddenly click, and everything else will sound pale in comparison. But this track does click, maybe because it sounds sufficiently Korean, or Swedish. Good tune, anyway, and rapping chops. And megaphones.

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