pop music

Don’t blame the wild one! With her new album, ena mori says she isn’t afraid anymore

Kara Angan
Don’t blame the wild one! With her new album, ena mori says she isn’t afraid anymore

Photo by Ennuh Tiu

'It’s a lot more self-aware,' the Filipino-Japanese musician says of her latest project

Filipino-Japanese artist Ena Patricia Mori Villa, better known as ena mori, has a distinct visual and sonic style that sets her apart from other artists in her field. She spent her childhood in the Kanagawa prefecture in Japan, but has called the Philippines her home for the past few years. In fact, the singer sits with us on Zoom on the heels of her latest homecoming to Japan, the second to the last stop on her recent tour for her debut album, DON’T BLAME THE WILD ONES!

The album, which was released last July 29, has been hailed for its colorful, complex pop instrumentals and vulnerable lyricism, as she details everything from heartbreak to her struggles with self-love. “I had a lot of time to myself […] throughout the pandemic,” she shares, when explaining why she decided to touch on such personal topics for her maiden record. “You try to figure yourself out because you’re spending so much time by yourself.” 

She continues by saying that it started out as a reflective process for her — trying to verbalize her own feelings to herself as she navigated the pandemic. “I wanted to create something that I could hold onto when I feel the same [way] again.”

It’s this unapologetic vulnerability that has listeners enraptured with her record. She doesn’t exactly have a favorite song off the album — “As a creator, it varies depending on the day,” she explains — but seeing and hearing the impact of her music on other people also shapes how she views her own songs.

One example is her current favorite, “WHITE ROOM.” As one of the last songs written for the album, she thought that it was “too emotional” in the beginning. In a way, she’s right. She captures the push and pull of logic and emotion in your head that happens during a panic attack. With a Melodrama-era Lorde-esque inspired instrumental to back her up, mori screams as she tries to free herself from anxiety. “I appreciate ‘WHITE ROOM’ now, especially [knowing] that people feel something special [while listening to it.]” 

Photo by Ennuh Tiu 

Battling her emotions isn’t a topic that mori shies away from. In fact, her 2020 self-titled EP experiments with a lot of the same material, as she confronts loneliness and self-worth. However, in DON’T BLAME THE WILD ONES!, there’s a clear shift in how she approaches the topics.

“It’s a lot more self-aware,” she explains. She describes her previous EP as an exploration into what she hoped to accomplish sound-wise — citing that at the time, she was confused and unsure of how she wanted to showcase herself. Now, she knows what she wants as an artist. “I’m not afraid anymore to do exactly what I think…. The confidence and overall intention with the album is a lot different [than before].”

This confidence shines through the record. She soars in “DBTWO!,” whispering, “I speak louder louder ‘til my voice is gone / Tell me your feelings / I speak louder louder for the quiet ones,” before the song’s incredibly catchy hook where she shrugs off her non-believers with, “You can watch me from afar / DON’T BLAME THE WILD ONE!”

Photo by Ennuh Tiu 

Fans of mori can attribute their resonance with her music to her hands-on approach to her art. Aside from just writing her own music, she’s deeply involved with how she wants to express her songs through visual direction. “I love taking time with my music. I take the songwriting very seriously…to make the song perfect in my own [perspective]. But when it comes to the visuals, I can play around with that. There’s a lot more freedom…. It’s more expressive than trying to prove a point.”

She takes pages out of the books of some of her musical inspirations — she cites Bjork and Kate Bush, both of whom she notes have a very intentional approach to their music. She describes the story surrounding music as a “dreamland,” where the visuals and elements that go beyond a song’s lyrics can shape the intentions and overall impact of the track.

Photo by Ennuh Tiu 

This is her favorite part as a listener, she shares. In the same way she enjoys watching her favorite artists evolve their visuals alongside their music, hardcore fans and casual listeners alike can expect mori to follow suit. What becomes refreshingly clear in our conversation is the artist’s commitment to growth and exploration. Even as she rattles off artists she’s inspired by and hopes to collaborate with in the future, they’re all vastly different in terms of lyricism and genre. Aside from previously mentioned artists Bjork and Kate Bush, she hopes to collaborate someday with fellow Offshore Music labelmate and friend Zild as well as alternative-indie singer-songwriter Bon Iver. 

If one could describe ena mori in one word, it would be “boundless.” Even now, she’s still brainstorming ideas on how to continue exploring and growing her sound. mori shares some of the sound elements she wants to incorporate into future tracks, like a harp — something she fell in love with after listening to an artist during her trips to Japan — and even aspects of metal. It’s this dedication to innovation that makes her an exciting artist to watch out for. Her debut album is clear: she’s barely just begun. – Rappler.com

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