Elya Chavez biography
Elya Chavez / Эля Чавес / エーリャ・チャーヴェス
Born 31 July 1984, Moscow, USSR
Elya grew up in two historic areas of Moscow — Dynamo and Tsaritsyno. She used to spend hours in the park in the neighborhood of the Moscow Air Force Ingineering Academy with her beloved granny and her dog named Klim. The ruins of Tsaritsyno Grand Palace in the near of her school was Elya’s favorite place to play and meet with her friends.
Elya says that “going on the swings and singing out loud” was very usual of her at that time, which made her very popular among her classmates.
The idea of practicing music on a regular basis came to Elya as early as in the primary school, that’s why she asked her father to enroll her in a music school. Unfortunately all vacancies in a piano class were filled, so when they asked her what other class she'd like to attend, she shrugged her shoulders and answered “What’s the diff now?” This is how she got to a domra class.
It was amazing how quickly Elya mastered the instrument; soon she was invited to the school ensemble. The teachers made special mention of her skilled and emotional play. However, the relations with the teachers were upset because they tended to “give all children equal opportunities”, which annoyed Elya and her friends who appreciated her as an informal leader.
All those annoying admonitory talks to put the chill on the “opinionated girl” finally got the counter effect, and Elya made up her mind to “let it all hang out” and quit the school.
It might have been the end of her music career but for the luck of the draw that changed her life once and for all.
In summer 2006 Elya and her friends were railwaying back home from the Kola Peninsula in the north of Russia, where they had spent about a month. She was standing by the window, watching flickering lights that passed by outside and quietly singing the verses of her favorite Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō, composing the tune just on-the-run.
One of the conductors got near her without being noticed, and having listened to the whole of the 'song’ asked Elya what her name was and where she performed. Elya was rather confused by the question and answered “Nowhere”. The conductor showed surprise and told Elya “Then you should! Having such a voice you would gather stadiums of fans!”.
Next day Elya called the only person who she could tell about the night talk — her playfellow Pavel Gusev, a producer and the owner of Anken Todd Partnership company. Later Elya recalled: “I just blurted out ‘I want to sing!’”, and Pavel told me “If you really want to, you will”.
Since September 2006 Elya has been teaching her voice, studying the grounds of acting technique and stage rhetoric.
Later on in December 2006 Pavel asked her to become the editorial director of a new Russian VYBOR.SU Internet portal, and she bumped its popularity up among the Russian and foreign young audience in a very short time.
In March 2007 Elya started to prepare her debut two-part concert program named Run and Hide. The first part being in Japanese (‘Run’), and the second — in English (‘Hide’).
In June 2007 the program was opened in Barvikha, a prestige village situated near Moscow, at a private party organized by Anken Todd Partnership at Castle of Meiendorf, the Russian presidential residence, where Elya debuted sharing the stage with other Russian and foreign stars.
This is where she started her career as a singer and since that time the ancient gothic castle has been her favorite and primary concert venue.
On the 26th of August 2007 Elya presented the short version of Run and Hide program at MAKS 2007, an international air show in Moscow. Not long after the show she moved a motion to her management that she wants to make a musical band that would include a keyboard player and another singer.
Later on she would be sorry about this suggestion time and again. However she said she “felt lonely” at her live concerts at Castle of Meiendorf, so creating a band seemed the best option to her.
The casting started in November 2007, and out of 2000 contenders they chose the second singer. Elya liked the girl so much, that she ceased to look for a keyboard player, as the new singer, in addition to her nice voice, also played piano well.
But in a month Elya saw that the long-term cooperation with the new singer was out of the question — the new girl hampered rehearsals, went in for dramatics and never wanted to work at her vocals.
Elya decided to part with the new band member.
By and by the new 2008 year has rolled around. Elya proceeded with her solo career.
On the 26th of January 2008 she performed abroad for the first time. It was in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, and there she presented Run and Hide program to her Czech and German fans.
However, despite the hearty welcome in Prague, back in Moscow Elya showed her willingness to start another casting for the second singer. The terms of the casting, however, were to be stricter than the last one’s — the new band member had to be unaware of Elya’s solo career and have experience in some other band.
By a fluke, one of Pavel’s friends told him about a tangled situation in a little-known students’ music band, the singer of which was on the point of leaving it because of contentions with the second member.
Pavel listened to some tracks of the band and asked for meeting with the girl after her show.
A week later Elya and the new band member celebrated the start of their creative alliance at a Moscow cafe.
On the 11th of April 2008 they started to record their first mutual song. Elya thought that days all problems seemed to be in the past and looked forward to a long successful singer career.
But neither her producer, nor her sound engineer shared her optimism. A thorough listening to the record showed that it's impossible to improve the new singer’s vocal presence in future because “there is nothing to improve - it's already her best performance”.
The sound engineer also drew Pavel’s attention that while recording the track Elya ‘tried’ to sing worse than she usually does, probably feeling the obvious difference between the two voices and trying to smooth it over.
They weighed all pros and contras, and invited Elya to the studio to tell her about it.
First she just pondered over the news in silence. Then she asked the two with a low rage in her voice: “So what should I do now with all that crap?” The two exchanged glances and Pavel said: "Just the same as you did before — sing alone!"
This was a final point in Elya’s idea of creating a band.
It was hard to accept, but Elya clearly understood that her dream about her own band would never come true. However, soon she got the point of what happened and ‘passed the test’ to come up with a bang as a self-sufficient artist.
On the 5th of July 2008 Elya’s Наtsu Tandoku / The One and Only promo single was released.
The single was available as a present to any guest of private parties organized by Anken Todd Partnership.
In honor of the train conductor, the cover of the single depicts Elya against the background of a railway running into the distance, which symbolizes her own way she chose for herself.
In August 2008 Elya presented her new Live Brite! program, named so after a fan’s reaction to her show: “Live, bright, amazing!”.
This is how the neologistic term ‘brite’ came up to become the name of a new music style combining bright and tuneful European singing and the subtle sound of the Japanese lyrics, set to the original guitar and electronic music.
In September 2008 Elya was invited to film in a movie called The Charm of Love directed by Maxim Voronkov. Such Russian movie-stars as Elena Proklova, Mikhail Vladimirov were also filmed in the movie, as well as an ex-participant of a popular Russian reality show DOM2 — Viktoria Bonya.
On the 20th of September 2008 Elya presented her new song —- Watashi Ni Ikasete — both in English and Japanese. That day Elya dressed like a Japanese school girl and probably it’s her image that moved a powerful Russian businessman’s wife come to her with a plea to “save her daughter from anime fanatics”.
Rather embarrassed, Elya asked her in to tea to a veranda of the castle. The woman told Elya the whole story: her once nice and gentle 16-year-old daughter changed a lot over a few months. She broke up with most of her friends calling them various bad names, and got involved with “anime fans”; going to so named “anime parties” was now usual of the girl, and often she reeked of cheap canned alcohol cocktails and never explained the origin of the bruises on her legs and arms.
Being a person who liked and had a deep understanding of the Japanese culture, Elya was rather puzzled and asked the woman how the anime culture tie into all that, but the woman was hard put to find a satisfactory answer. So, Elya reassured the woman that she will do her best and look into the problem as soon as possible.
A few days passed. The experts of Anken Todd Partnership prepared a detailed report that showed that the innocence and appeal of the “anime parties” in Moscow is no better than a facade. In fact, they found out that in capital of Russia there are several rival groups seemingly organized as destructive sects that regularly gave dubious and shady (in the context of both ethics and culture) events.
Hours-long, primitive, childish-mind-oriented ‘contests’, as well as amateurish school-like karaoke shows performed by the organizers’ friends and protйgйs using Japanese rock and pop-bands tracks were the core of the parties. They always resulted in public affronting of the opposing groups on Russian social networking websites, obscenities and even criminal words being widely used.
As a person who greatly contributed to promotion of Japanese animation in Russia, especially the works of a world famous filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, after reading of the report Elya has clearly understood —- those “anime parties” have nothing in common with the real anime culture, in fact being well-schemed events to attract as many members to the developing destructive sect as possible.
Her next task now was to see what was happening at those “anime parties” and “anime meetings”.
And the only way to do that was to become... one of the “anime parties” singers.
The following next days were very busy with preparing and recording a ‘concert program’ called New Empress in honor of a Japanese Empress Nagako. The name was Elya’s idea and symbolized the continuity of good and justice, as well as her determination to keep fighting with evil hiding in the dark side of human souls.
New Empress consisted of a number of cover versions of widely known Japanese songs available in Russian social networking websites and their analogues with Russian lyrics written on the basis of the Japanese ones.
Now that the program was complete, and Elya had to solve very difficult problem — to organize her appearance at so named “Moscow anime stage” as a ‘novice trying to fight her way’ in order to get the right to perform her songs at the “anime parties”.
There was no other option — as an ordinary “anime party” goer she would never find way to the privileged and confidential information carefully hided by the organizers of the “anime parties” from their regularly paying audience.
After agreeing about this experiment with her management and backed by the inner circle of her friends and fans, Elya performed one of the tracks from New Empress upon the pretext of congratulating a DJ of CICterna HALL club, very popular in Moscow among regular “anime party” goers.
And her idea did work out — soon Elya was invited as a ‘novice star’ to two “anime parties” on the 8th and the 23rd of February 2009.
They resulted in dozens of letters and messages with thanks for her shows and ‘new’ songs, which puzzled Elya, because in fact, the ‘new’ songs were just cover versions of popular decade-old Japanese hits. How so — that people who consider themselves experts in Japanese pop-music and anime culture didn’t recognize the songs that every Japanese teenager is familiar with?..
The daughter of that very woman who asked Elya for help a few months ago wrote her a message too. The girl wrote that she ‘liked Elya’s voice and songs’, and that she would now go only to those “anime parties” where Elya would give her live show.
Now imagine how surprised the girl was when in the evening of the same day she sent her message she saw ‘the newbie singer’ sitting at her own home and lively talking to her mother.
Actually, the New Empress project could have been brought to an end, but for the loads of letters and messages whose senders asked Elya when she was going to give another show at an “anime party”.
Elya couldn’t just skip them — the situation required a trade-off.
And they found the option: management of Anken Todd Partnership made a decision that in addition to her private concerts, Elya would give public, available to everybody who'd like to visit them, shows for her new friends and fans.
Since the 22nd of March 2009 her live shows have become regular.
It’s remarkable that the first few concerts couldn’t avoid incidents usual for Moscow “anime parties” organizers — in the Internet the shows were announced cancelled supposedly at the instance of Elya or by her clones.
At the same time there appeared a lot of articles and reviews full of pseudo-professional expressions and slips in the grammar, the authors of which tried to prove that Elya’s voice was synthesized, or that she never sang but lip-synched, or that her music is recorded at home with amateur software.
But the most ‘original’ idea of the Moscow “anime parties” organizers during their campaign to teach the hated ‘newbie’ and make Russian anime fans dislike her was to upload to a number of Russian and international pirate websites fake audiofiles named like Elya’s most popular songs but being in fact either the songs of various Japanese and European singers or primitive remixes illegally using her voice.
This caught attention of Elya’s powerful admirers, one of which being a regular guest of her private concerts at Castle of Meiendorf tacitly assigned the security service of his private Russian oil company with an unusual task — ‘to teach these children a good lesson’.
As a result — with cooperation with management and technical support staff of Russian Internet service providers and social networking websites they figured out the core initiators of the subversive activities.
High officials’ children and Russian police officers surprisingly being among them.
When Elya was told about it, she asked to do nothing except deleting all fake audiofiles and biased articles from the Internet. She disregarded the objection that her such a position would be reckoned as ‘weakness’ and provoke an appearance of new fake audiofiles and articles, burst out laughing and answered with an indecently rephrased version of a Russian saying: “Any toy is ok…”
The summer 2009 slipped away like a single day, Elya recalls.
During this period she significantly improved her vocal technique, and allotted much time to studying the Japanese grammar.
On the 1st of August 2009 at a Moscow FM-Club her friends and fans organized her birthday celebration concert.
This was a summary of the Live Brite! program, after which Elya announced her creative reprieve up to October 2009.
"So what’s next?" — asked her fans after the concert.
Instead of the answer Elya archly smiled and said two Russian words — Vinovata Sama.
That was the name of the new project the world premiere of which took place on the 19th of April 2010 — the birthday of Elya’s granny.