Onstage, Gianna X Gianna is a towering presence in platform shoes, a sparkly leotard and spidery black mascara. Her blond hair is dyed a faded, cotton-candy hue; a mischievous grin peels apart her ruby-red lips as though she's a sultry super-villain. With her spastic intensity and robotic gyrations, the rapping songstress has carved her niche in OC as the most eye-catching element of sibling hip-hop/electro outfit BLOK. But in terms of calculating her sweat and creative output over the years, that's barely the half of it.
She views everything she does–rapping, singing, acting, directing, writing books–as a platform to convey her mission as an artist. "I want to be vulnerable and showcase that, and hopefully, that resonates on some level for people who want to do it themselves as well," the bubbly Gianna says.
As she talks excitedly about her stack of upcoming solo ventures, it makes sense that someone so flush with creativity rarely runs out of ways to express herself. "It's hard for me to be just an author, or just a singer, or just a producer. That's so odd for me," the Irvine-bred artist says. "I have to use everything. Because it's so hard to communicate yourself in a world where everyone has different reference points and different intentions."
Though her rapping style has always seemed to grab casual listeners by the collar, her new solo music is a bit more demure. Gianna is prone to using a Bollywood-inspired falsetto on songs such as "U r aLL." And although she's used to singing over her brother (BLOK's chief rapper) Damian Blaise's pulsing, industrial club beats, Gianna's music is decidedly more minimal. But her sense of reckless abandon always seems to find its way into her performances.
"Performing live for me is similar to performing with BLOK because I just, like, see red, and I don't remember what happens afterward," she says. "I go crazy, but in a different way."
The self-directed and -produced video for "U r aLL" is three minutes of haunting black-and-white hallucination and Gianna's signature dance moves. However, Blaise is still the primary producer on all of her tracks. Since they were kids, Gianna, Blaise and their brother Jesse St. John have used their sibling telepathy to their creative advantage.
"When you grow up with the same reference points, a lot of things are unsaid in your communication–you can't ever stop," she says. "I'm always gonna create with Damian and Jesse because they understand what I'm saying without words."
There's no question that words still come pretty easy for her, though. Since her 21st birthday, Gianna has dedicated herself to publishing a book every year. Dubbed the "All Encompassing" series, pages crammed with her original poems, essays, random artwork and lectures are put together by hand and sold at shows. In celebration of her 24th birthday in September, she released another volume, this time online, where she now also keeps the rest of the series. Publish-to-order physical copies are also available for fans and friends who want some tangible insight into the mind of one of OC's most eccentrically sweet artists.
"The point of doing the books is to document my growth, and I'm doing it publicly so everyone can see my intentions to grow and dip my feet into different portals. I'm gonna do it till I die," she says, laughing.
Gianna X Gianna performs at La Cave, 1695 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-7944; www.lacaverestaurant.com. Thurs., Oct. 9, 10 p.m. Free. 21+.