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The one-person band brings to mind images of a bass drum strapped to the chest, cymbals hooked to the knees, an accordion slung to the side, and a harmonica harnessed in front of the mouth. These days, with MIDI synthesizers and computers running sequencing programs, it's a tad easier for the one-person acts to hold their own.

In the 1980s, the "thing" was two-man bands like Soft Cell, Bronski Beat, and the Pet Shop Boys: someone on the electronic instruments, the other singing. Following this form, Earnest Rapture began as a two-person project in 1997 with college friends Cara Mia and Mark, hailing from New Jersey with plenty of synthesizers but no computer. They began work on what would be their first album, Yesterday's Lemons, but Mark, according to Mia, committed suicide before the album was finished. She completed the project in her partner's wake and continued solo.

Retro-'80s synth-pop is what Earnest Rapture is all about -- melodic, poetic, somewhat dark but always danceable -- an homage to the digitized music culture of a past decade.

Why the move to San Diego? "Because the company I work for relocated here," says Cara. "I also publish an online multimedia magazine with contributors from around the world. The next issue will be refining its focus to recycled artwork."

Around town, Earnest Rapture is often seen at the Whistle Stop in South Park and the Faction-6 DJ event at Kadan in North Park. Cara is currently working on a Sunday night venue called Ballyhoo's at Club Recognize, 4746 El Cajon Boulevard. "The music is '80s, new-wave pop, and electronica live performances," she says, "with some films and art shows too."

TRICKIEST MUSICAL PROBLEM WHEN PLAYING LIVE?

"Multitasking between playing keyboards and singing, tweaking hardware, and captivating the audience by making it all look easy. My iBook, which is the crux of the performance, has crashed on occasion -- one time on KZSU up in San Francisco -- so that is always a worry as well."

LIST OF INSTRUMENTS/EQUIPMENT USED?

"Digital Performer, Reason [software], Motu 828, Roland Juno 106, Rhode NT 2, dual processor G4 for recording/engineering, G3 iBook for driving visual projections, G4 iBook for driving the rest of the live set."

TOP FIVE DESERT-ISLAND DISCS?

"This is a tough one for me as all of my music is in playlists -- the album format is out, as far as I am concerned."

1) The Smiths, Louder Than Bombs

2) New Order, Substance

3) Belle and Sebastian, The Boy with the Arab Strap

4) Pet Shop Boys, Behavior

5) Anything Box, Hope

TOP FIVE MOVIES?

"I hardly ever go to the movies since I spend all my cash on equipment...yikes...recent favorites are The Motorcycle Diaries and The Yes Men. Old favorites are The Graduate and Harold and Maude. I recently saw American Psycho and liked that one. Sorry, I can hardly answer this question."

MOST MEMORABLE ENCOUNTER AT A SHOW OR WITH AN AUDIENCE MEMBER?

"The last time I played the Edinburgh Castle up in San Francisco a guy came up to me after my set asking for a demo -- he claimed to work for Warner Brothers. I was, like, 'Yeah, right, you really work for WB...let me see a card'...then he hands me a card, and he actually worked for their artist outreach or whatever-you-call-it program. I gave him a demo and apologized profusely."

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