By Jocelle Koh
There is only one ena mori and she sure as hell makes it known. The Filipino-Japanese singer-songwriter has made a name for herself as an up-and-coming creative powerhouse since her debut in 2018 with her colourful, vibrant brand of unabashed pop, and her latest album “DON’T BLAME IT ON THE WILD ONE!” follows suit as yet another musical masterpiece.
Combining her bombastic, offbeat vocal stylings with groovy, spunky basslines and weird yet wonderful electronic-influenced soundscapes, ena has an unparalleled ability to craft a vivid, colourful world which leaves listeners exhilarated and immediately wanting more.
Incorporating captivating, striking multi coloured visuals and a camp-influenced larger-than-life quality to her outfits and appearance, ena lives in her own little world, and we’re just happy to be part of it.
Inspired by her experiences of isolation and reflection during the pandemic, ena shows how these circumstances have only continued to fuel her passion for her craft in this even more freewheeling representation of her artistry. We spoke with the eclectic artist about her new album and what makes her tick.
Q: Congrats on your brilliant new album “DON’T BLAME THE WILD ONE!”. You’ve mentioned that the album is about being bold and unapologetic, but at the same time is about your insecurities as well. Why do you think channeling it through such an extroverted sound works for you?
A: I guess it works because the sound mirrors what I want to become when I’m feeling down. I think it naturally became vibrant and loud as I expressed my thoughts through the record.
Q: Could you share the story behind one or two songs from this album which were especially meaningful for you?
A: The process of making every song is meaningful to me but i think ‘WHITE ROOM’ holds a special place in my heart. I talked about how I feel defeated when something goes wrong, and I tend to stop myself from trying new things because I’m too afraid to let myself down. It is something that I am still struggling with and making this record gave me something to hold on to when I feel like that again.
Q: You mentioned previously that all the songs are about things you feel uncomfortable talking about. Do you feel that facing up to that discomfort in your music was cathartic for you?
A: Definitely it did help process my thoughts and emotions. I love the fact that we can use music as a medium to heal something within ourselves. It is truly beautiful.
Q: You mentioned that your love for music grew especially during the pandemic. Can you elaborate on how you fell in love with music all over again during this time?
A: During the pandemic, most of my time was spent with music. I had a period of time not wanting to listening to music at all, and a time where I couldn’t stop playing. I think through the pandemic, how music means to me got clearer again, and it wasn’t just a career that I am in, it’s almost like when you reunited with your best friend and catching up.
Q: Your sound is unlike anything we’ve ever heard before. What would you describe as your musical philosophy? How do you approach your creative process?
A: I really take time constructing a song in a “perfect” way, but it’s important to always remember that there is no such thing as a perfect art. Art isn’t perfect and that creates space for people’s hearts. I try my best to know when to let it flow and when to take control.
Q: How has your Filipino Japanese heritage influenced your works thus far?
A: My writing and musical influences definitely comes from two different cultures. You could probably tell from my sound as well. Japan and the Philippines have both totally different cultures and it keeps me inspired.
Q: Could you share some influences that have significantly shaped your sound over the years?
A: During the pandemic, I went back to my classical roots and listening to a lot of Franz Liszt. I also was inspired by female artists such as Bjork, Kate Bush, Tori Amos & a lot of 80’s 90’s artists.
Q: Your lyrical style is introspective but also spunky and brassy at the same time. What inspires you to write in this way?
A: Writing isn’t really my forte when it comes to songwriting, but I try my best to tell a story which is truthful to me at least so that when I perform, I know what I am talking about.
Q: I feel that colour plays a huge part in your visuals and your sonic palette. Have you always gravitated towards vibrant colours and funky designs?
A: I grew up loving colours, I’ve always been surrounded with colourful things and I think it is part of who I am as a person.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the visuals for the album and where the design inspiration came from?
A: I wanted a powerful image but yet soft, feminine, and innocent. I was gravitated towards the colour orange so chose the design in that colour.
What we feel is truly unique about ena is her ability to take the most introspective and negative experiences, and turn them into the absolute polar opposite in her music.
From her most deeply hidden insecurities and flaws to the most effervescent, positive works of art, ena shows how art can be truly transformative if we let it be.
Making a powerful statement about femininity, duality and listening to one’s’ inner voice, ena is both loud and quiet, intimate yet larger-than-life. And we wouldn’t have her any other way.