Nier – Emi Evans’ Chaos language
October 18, 2019
When NieR was released back into 2010 it received mixed reviews from a number of different sources, but the one thing about NieR that was undeniably one of the highlights was the soundtrack. NieR’s soundtrack was composed by Keiichi Okabe with the help of some of the member’s from his own Studio MoNACA. The game’s original soundtrack received enough praise to cause Square Enix to spawn three more albums down the line containing rearrangements of the songs that were featured on the original soundtrack. The album’s sold exceptionally well in Japan and three of the four albums even made it onto the Japanese Oricon music charts. All while Keiichi Okabe is an absolutely amazing composer, one of the things that made the NieR soundtrack stand out in the way that it did was Emi Evans’ vocal work. Her voice is incredibly beautiful and downright haunting but the secret behind her vocals is her so-called ”chaos language.” Emi Evans is an English singer who is currently residing in Tokyo. She is the lead singer of the band freesscape and actually has previous experience with working on video game music prior to having worked on NieR . When she was younger, she traveled to Japan to study abroad but ended up staying and eventually formed the band freesscape. In an interview with OSV, Evans retold the story of how she ended up working on the NieR soundtrack. Back in 2008, she suddenly received a call from an assistant who was working at Keiichi Okabe’s studio about doing vocal work for the game Dance Dance Revolution. But then after Keiichi Okabe had listened to her vocal work on freesscape’s songs, he declared that he would much rather have her work on another one of his projects instead which he thought would suit her voice more. This other project of course being NieR. During one of the meetings that Evans had with studio MoNACA, she was tasked with writing her own song lyrics in a made up language. Here she comments saying she hadn’t had any previous experience writing lyrics in made up language but that she had always enjoyed singing songs in different languages during her younger years. Even if she couldn’t understand what was being sung, she would listen to the songs and then simply mimic the words So it’s understandable how the idea of getting to create her own made up language and then perform it was very appealing to her. Studio MoNACA would send Evans drafts for the songs that were going to be featured on the soundtrack coupled with instructions on what kind of language they wanted her to mimic for each song. Some of the languages that she was instructed to mimic included: English, Japanese, Gaelic, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, French Swahili and Hungarian, to mention a few. In order to captivate the right sounds that she needed in order to construct her fake language, Evans would listen to language lessons online in an attempt to get a feeling for the language’s different rhythms and sounds so that she’d be able to mimic them. She’d also write lyrics down in the languages as a means of getting even more involved. One of the joys of being allowed to create lyrics based on multiple languages was that she felt as if different languages used different parts of her brain, which in turn gave birth to different emotions. Evans also mentioned that she would have liked to have collaborated with native speakers as well but that she wasn’t able to due to time restrictions. There’s only one song that doesn’t have lyrics that are based on another language, which is the ’‘Song of the Ancients.’’ Because it was the first song that she had been sent and she’d received no further instruction other than to use an ’‘imaginary language’’ Evans admits to having felt very anxious. In order to write the lyrics for the ’‘Song of the Ancients’’ she took inspiration from all of the languages and mixed them all together, as opposed to working on deconstructing one language per song as she did for the other tracks. At first, she felt a little guilty and considered it almost a bit unethical to be mixing languages with each other in such a way, but once she made it to the studio and started recording the songs the lyrics became much more familiar and easy to sing. Evans process of manipulating languages for the NieR soundtrack meant taking a language nd then imagining how that language could possibly sound thousands of years into the future, creating a very mysterious and futuristic feeling as she went. Evans herself also states that none of the lyrics she wrote had any special meaning in particular aside from the ones that were featured in the song ’‘Ashes of Dreams.’’ As for the creation of ’‘Ashes of Dreams,’’ she received a list of keywords in Japanese from NieR’s director Yoko Taro. He wanted her to incorporate the keywords into the song, which she did by translating them into different languages and then deviating from the actual pronunciation of the words so that it would sound foreign even to native speakers. Her knowledge of the game and its characters was very limited, as all she had received was a very brief rundown of the story as well as a cutscene featuring the two characters Devola and Popola. She wrote the lyrics on her own before then traveling to the studio to record the vocals under the supervision of Keiichi Okabe. He would try to help her envision what kind of landscapes would play out when the songs played in order to try and help Evans figure out what the overall feeling of the song would portray. But Evans felt a bit conflicted as she didn’t really know what emotion to capture, not only due to the vague descriptions but also due to a majority of the arrangements for the songs were still incomplete at the time when the vocals were being recorded. Okabe was very understanding and allowed Evans a lot of freedom when recording. Without the exceptions of a few very straightforward requests, such as a few cues on when to sing more softly or strongly, Evans was allowed to get lost in the song and perform it as she saw fit. Using her imagination, she was able to create an image for each song on her own. An the arrangements that were made for the coming albums that were created after the original soundtrack was complete were often based on the emotion that her vocals carried. When Evans herself listens to the NieR soundtrack, she doesn’t mention feeling confused as she’s so familiar with the lyrics even though they are non-sensical. She also mentions how she felt that the way she was able to use her voice was very liberating and that she was excited about getting to use this type of voice for the NieR soundtrack. Keiichi Okabe collaborated with Evans again for Yoko Taro’s next game: Drakengard 3. Although she wasn’t featured on as many tracks as she was in the NieR soundtrack, her chaos language appeared once again on multiple tracks from Drakengard 3. She also provided the vocals for the song ’‘Kuroi Uta’’ or ’‘The Black Song’’ which was originally sung by artist Eir Aoi. The lyricist Kikuchi Hana wrote the lyrics for the original song only in katakana, which is a Japanese writing system that is primarily reserved for writing foreign words or loan words, much like how English uses italics. The lyrics are very clearly a modified version of Japanese and were not changed for Emi Evans’ international release. In my own opinion, which I’m sure a lot of people agree with, beauty of Drakengard 3’s as well as NieR’s music is that the lyrics are non-sensical. Not only does it transcend language barriers in a new sense but it gives every player a unique experience. We as the players are free to take each song and interpret them however we want to. I could not possibly be any more excited over the fact that Emi Evans has returned to do more vocal work for NieR: Automata, again, featuring her chaos language. I strongly encourage you to look up the game’s main theme: ’’The Weight on the World’’ if you haven’t. Even though the English version is absolutely fantastic as well, I am awfully biased towards Emi Evans non-sensical version. I have had it on repeat ever since the first time I heard it and it has very much become an obsession of mine. I think I need help. The music is by far my favorite part of NieR and I am forever grateful to Keiichi Okabe as well as the rest of studio MoNACA and Emi Evans for providing us with such an amazing soundtrack. I hope you enjoyed this video, I would really appreciate it if you would give it a thumbs up if you did. Thank you for watching!