Ever since the fearless, artistic, and growing artist Baek Yerin set up her own indie agency, her releases have been nothing but highly innovative and distinctly personal. Both Every letter I sent you and recent studio album tellusboutyourself are recognizable not just for a) being fully in English (except for “Datoom,” the only Korean track in Every) or b) breaking the rules for general song structure or length, but c) for having tracks that no one but Yerin could’ve composed and sang.
Establishing her own creative space seems to have been a breakthrough, as consecutive releases have showed strong growth in her personal color and genre in music. If Every was threadbare, enchanting, and even whimsical with its many storytelling angles, tellusboutyourself takes that a dark step further to explore the complexities behind love, from sadness to loneliness to anger – and ultimately rising above it all to fully claim her story.
An eclectic mix of grungy R&B and delicate ballads, the album is a classic tale — and the title tracks created into MV’s are first “0415” and its sequel “Hate You.” To provide some background, “0415” starts the story that “Hate You” continues: a bittersweet narrative consisting of a lonely vampire simply seeking understanding from what she constitutes as a “family.” But in reality, the differences stick out like sore thumbs: the family members are unable to enjoy food as they used to after becoming vampires, yet they’re unable to fully grasp their new identities, as well.
Considering how this family is also not supposed to be hers (which is shown through the teasers), the irony is prevalent through a unique symbolism: choreography. In the first half of the MV, the characters are seen dancing freely in their individual rhythms, but when it comes to being with the vampire, they are stoic and rigid. This can represent a loss of individuality, emotions, or even free will, as they are only ghosts of who they used to be prior. In the end, however, the vampire is left alone, misunderstood until the very end.
It is in this scenario that Baek Yerin enters in “Hate You,” continuing the story from where it dropped off. Though it is unclear how she comes to have an encounter with the vampire or what effect it has had, Yerin nonetheless comes into play as a character herself. Plot wise, it is simple yet poignant — Yerin becomes a bridge for the vampire to the lone child left behind from losing her family. From “0415,” it’s clear that the vampire excluded the youngest child of the family; the only scene that shows her acknowledging this is seen from 0:54-1:00. She looks hesitant, lowering her head while on the car the family was last seen occupying — which carries a number of implications. Considering this context, it is plausible to think that the box sent to Yerin carries items special to the abandoned child.
The only glimpse from this MV that links the two stories together is in 1:26, where a barefoot figure wearing a white dress steps over the luggage. The two characters are then seen encountering each other at the three minute mark, following the narrative to “open your window at midnight.” Afterwards, the ending credits appear as Yerin picks up the box and leaves her room; animated drawings insinuate that she is indeed going off to somewhere. And going back to “0415,” the ending shows the child, now grown up, receiving a box she hasn’t expected. Piecing these all together reveals the full story of Baek Yerin’s cinematic piece, and it is one classic storytelling production.
Moreover, the visual sets — while limited to a handful — are perfectly vintage and old-school and, perhaps even cold in mood. Within these backgrounds, Yerin freely dances or sits in heavy wonder as the song proclaims how she’ll coolly move on from a lover no longer worth being around. Without the vampire, Yerin is filmed alone throughout the rest of the music video, independent and free. This is significant in relation to the song, which centers on Yerin finding freedom and power from a toxic relationship. And while empowerment may not be the first theme to think of while watching the video alone, the song’s lyrics highlight Yerin’s growing strength as she stands on her two feet. The best part that makes this song hers, personally, is the following:
All losers come like a nightmare
But I’m tougher and I’m wiser
I’m strong enough to get through you
’cause a person like me writes better songs
After people like you
It’s interesting to note how Yerin plays a fine balance between storytelling between MV and song — they tell different tales but are nonetheless presented together into one cohesive story. While the MV production itself is relatively simple, the layers of emotions behind it are subtle yet complex. We don’t fully know how Yerin feels about meeting the vampire or delivering the special box of nostalgia — nor we do know if Yerin really does “become like me [the vampire]” after that midnight encounter. Perhaps more music videos will follow, or we are left to imagine what could’ve ensued after these subsequent events. Nonetheless, Baek Yerin has created a haunting, lonely, yet eerily relatable tale that has us reflect on misunderstanding, abandonment, and even identity. What does it mean to be known for who you are? How crucial is it to truly be seen? And what lengths can loneliness drive you, if utterly isolated?
Once again, Baek Yerin has outdone herself — before 2020 wraps up, as well. What did our readers think of her latest comeback? Let us know in the comments below!
(YouTube; images via Blue Vinyl)