By: Jessica Law
Jarina De Marco’s artistic expression goes beyond her music. Although she is most well known as a musician and songwriter, she is an artist who takes on all aspects of her project as a visual designer, director, producer, and most recently created an art/sound installation out of jello. You cannot put her into one category. Born in the Dominican Republic, to musical parents, her childhood and family have informed her genre defying sound and politics. Jarina is outspoken and an advocate for women’s rights and human equality and uses her platform and music to push these messages forward.
Madre asked Jarina a few questions about her biggest influences, activism, and Jello.
Follow Jarina De Marco: @jarinademarco
Listen to the Madre Radio playlist Jarina made HERE.
Who are you?
My name is Jarina De Marco, I’m from the Dominican Republic, half Brazilian and I currently live in post apocalyptic Los Angeles.
What role does our family play in influencing your music?
I was lucky enough to be born into a musical family, 5th generation musician on my dad’s side. My parents had a Brazilian-Dominican Jazz fusion band called “Irka & Tadeu” and toured the world in the Jazz and world music festivals. My mother is also an ethnomusicologist so I got to accompany her in all her field research, recording Dominican folkloric music in the countryside as well as music from the Guarani tribe in the Amazon. I’ve been crazy influenced by them both, and only really discovered pop music in my teens.
Your music defies genre and borders. What is the inspiration for your sound and bi-lingual lyrics?
When I turned 18, I moved to Berlin to study German and music (which in retrospect was a BOLD MOVE JARINA) and I found myself in this gray, depressing Berlinian winter. I was this warm Caribbean girl in a very strange land, and up until that point had only been writing songs in english. I was super nostalgic for my Caribbean origins and that’s when I first started to write in spanish. Spanglish felt SO natural and allowed me to fully express myself. No one was really doing it then. There was a clear separation and no crossover between languages let alone global latinx music like we have now.
You spearhead every aspect of your creative execution, from songwriting, production, visual design, and video direction – is that on purpose?
HI MY NAME IS JARINA AND I AM A VIRGO AND MUST BE INVOLVED IN EVERY ASPECT OF EVERYTHING AT ALL TIMES lol. I mean I really love doing it all.
What is your intention behind the bright colors of our creative output?
I am a color hoe. Like, cannot get enough. Please hit me with color at all times. What is the “color” white?
What was your experience fleeing the Dominican Republic as a child?
My parents (and grandparents) have always weaved political dissent and activism into their lives. I was well informed as a kid on all the atrocities being committed by our dictator “president” at the time, Juaquin Balaguer. When my parents decided to perform a song against the dictator at a Museum Biennial in front of a large portion of his government officials, we knew shit was going to go down and were prepared. The military police approached the stage to shut down the show and it wasn’t long before we were on a plane to Montreal to escape from being blacklisted or worse. My memories of it are that of adventure, fear and also quite frankly excitement. I was already a “gitana” and addicted to travel and abrupt change.
Would you call yourself an activist?
I’m not sure if I would, only because there are people out there who put their body and life on the line, get arrested and worst to defend a cause. My activism is through music, lyrics and whenever possible, activating friends and fellow humans in art to join fighting for a cause through my platform. I thank my mother and grandfather for my inability to stay quiet in the face of injustice.
You are very vocal about your political views, what do you think of the current state of the world?
I think we are at a breaking point, hopefully one that will lead us to turning a corner on pretty much everything. Social justice, climate change, economic structures, our views on gender constructs and how we relate to each other.
What is your obsession with Jello and how did it begin?
I love the way it jiggles, how it looks, how you can mold it into any shape and color. It reminds me of the parts of our bodies that jiggle. Boobs and butts and also all the other parts we don’t want a jiggle from for some reason. Jello can be funny, and sexy, gross, and innocent. It’s kind of all the things that sex and sensuality can be. I went down a Youtube Jello rabbit hole one day and came out a changed woman. Started making weird jello in my kitchen, and eventually partnered up with Gxrlschool to do a Jello art show called “Jelly.” We made a jello synthesizer that you could actually play as well as a whole Jello touchable art piece, a dance number/Jello fight/ PG13 orgy by choreographer Jasmin Albuquerque, performance art by Gabriela Ruiz, Jello music by Maral and show by San Sancha. I freaking love jello.
Do you have a spiritual practice?
Pie, lots of pie. Also gardening, and then more pie. None of that apple pie bullshit. I’m talking key lime, earl grey pie. Gimme all the pie.