Sexual liberation, emotional honesty and, above all, hits incontestable. Three elements with which Javiera Mena (Santiago de Chile, 1983) has become in his own right one of the great figures of electronic pop on both sides of the Atlantic. After a 15-year career, a Latin Grammy nomination and timeless hits like Another era or Moonstone Light, Javiera continues in a state of creative grace, always looking for the perfect song.
Your new job, I. Enthusiasm, It is now available on all digital platforms. An EP that includes three singles released in recent months (Flashback, Astral Heart Y Two) and two new songs (Diva, in collaboration with Chico Blanco, and Passion AKA Illusion). Five songs like five soles that are already among the most inspired of his record production.
This EP was created during what has probably been the most hopeless time we can remember. What does the word ‘Enthusiasm’?
Enthusiasm is like the vital energy that makes you wake up, that makes you cook, fall in love, listen to music, make a playlist … it is something very beautiful and very magical. It is also related to passion, to lighting the fire. The idea was precisely to give a spin to the moment we are living. Offer enthusiasm in these moments … of little enthusiasm. But in music there is always enthusiasm. In the end, art in general has been very healing in this pandemic.
The first song on the EP, Flashback, it was published just a few days before the WHO declared the state of a global pandemic …
Yes, Flashback it was almost foreboding. I had planned the launch for that moment … and it was like a glove. That is why I like to speak poetically about things. Because the meaning can change depending on the context. The lyrics talk about nostalgia and the present. It fit very well for what we were living. But not only the lyrics. The video clip is inspired by Akira, a manga that takes place in a dystopian future where the world is collapsed. We were a bit scared… We won’t be a bit of a witch on my team! (laughs)
The EP includes five songs, two unreleased and three previously released as singles, do you think the album format is close to disappearing?
I do not believe it. The album is something that is in our DNA … but still people don’t listen to albums anymore. I used to always listen to full albums, but when all this listening to music on the internet started, our habits changed completely. With MySpace you did play in different songs and you made your own playlists. The attention of human beings is limited and it is increasingly difficult for someone to listen to 12 songs in a row by the same artist. But I still think in album format, in 10-12 songs to be listened to from beginning to end, because I grew up with that. In fact, this EP is the first part of an album that I am going to complete. I am adapting to the world we live in but without abandoning my artistic heart.
The first part of the EP absolutely invites you to dance, do you miss being able to perform in front of a dancing crowd?
Very much! People are like gagged, with a lot of security around and it’s weird. It looks like an experiment. I don’t feel that strength of people giving their all playing in a pandemic. It may be that for other types of music, quieter, it works better. Maybe it’s a paranoia of mine because my friends tell me they have just as much fun. They enjoy inside. But there is no such connection that is generated when I am giving everything and the public as well. It’s more like going to the theater. As if I were an actress and I was performing while people are sitting quietly watching me.
The process of composing these songs caught you in the middle of a social explosion in Chile, how has everything that has happened in your country since October 2019 influenced you as an artist?
Quite. Despite the fact that I do not write lyrics that speak of contingency. I remember crossing the Alameda, the main avenue of Santiago de Chile, and every day it was full of protesters. Sometimes I couldn’t get to the studio because things were so hard. At night we would go to a party in a place that was right in the center, as if it were the El Sol room here, and the protesters would pass by, all full of tear gas canisters. That’s where the song came from ‘Diva’. From the darkness of those nights.
You currently reside in Madrid and have established connections with many local artists. Do you think the city is experiencing an interesting moment on a cultural level?
I think it is a golden age. In Madrid and in Spain in general. Above all, our language is in a very good moment. I really like C. Tangana, obviously. I find the whole Rosalía phenomenon very interesting. I love the group Cariño. And everything underground. I feel like I hit the ground running. My guardian angel sent me here at a good time. I came without any expectations, just because I really like Madrid, and I ended up in a scene. I feel like I am considered almost local. I also really like Rigoberta Bandini, who is from Barcelona, where interesting things are also happening. Now I look at my playlists and 90% of what I listen to is music in Spanish. And not because I look for it, but because there are really very good things right now.
Depending on the context, the word “Diva“It can have very different connotations, do you consider yourself a “pop diva“?
For me one “diva“She is kind of like a queen. I think of “diva“And I imagine Madonna. I don’t feel like a diva. I may seem like a diva when I go on stage to sing but when I get off I am a very close person. Sometimes people are surprised, but I am one on stage and when I I’m another bass. I’m Javiera. In that sense I’m not a very diva. But of course, if we understand “diva” like those who put on their sunglasses and leave without greeting anyone. The word really comes from the opera, where a diva is an exceptional singer. I love the concept. I find it very good … and very queer also. Very from the LGTBQ + community.
Diva or not, you are considered an LGTBIQ + icon on both sides of the Atlantic, how does that make you feel?
Well. I think my music is strong enough to talk about me just because I am an LGTBIQ + icon. I go out of my way for my songs. Sometimes I have been told that if I am not afraid of falling into a niche, to be pigeonholed, and I have always said no. My music speaks to everyone, I perform everywhere and I do well with music. But if I have to stand up for lesbians, I will. Because there are not many famous lesbians and because people have asked me to. And if they are going to call me this over and over again, it is because it responds to the society in which we are. There are not many references and that draws a lot of attention. They put it for a reason.
The press knows what kind of headlines attract attention. A girl is going to attract more attention saying “I am a lesbian” what “my last album has ethnic sounds“, for example. At first it bothered me. I didn’t understand why people were talking more about my lesbianism than about my music. But now I don’t care. You have to make it visible. And I’ve already become an activist. My audience has forced me to be an activist ( laughs).
These days you have participated in campaigns for different companies (Spotify, TikTok) on the occasion of Pride 2021. What do you think that more and more large companies are betting on LGTBIQ + visibility campaigns at this time?
It’s Gay Christmas (laughs). I think it’s good. We are in a very capitalist world, we are all a bit slaves of that system. I am in a process of analysis with this issue. This is all very new, and you have to keep an eye out for it pinkwashing, but I think the visibility is good because that way my little brother or any other child can realize that, just as Christmas is normal, being gay is also normal. But where are the brands the rest of the year? In Chile they continue to kill people for being lesbian or gay. And here too, there is still a lot of homophobia. It is seen in some responses to this type of campaign.
Astral Heart You speak openly of a lesbian relationship, with sexual metaphors that leave no room for ambiguity. Do you think that your songs can help young people in their process of self-discovery?
Yes, it helped me a lot when I was little to watch movies in which two girls loved each other. I remember how I liked to see Celestial Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1994). If I had not had those references, in this case in the cinema, perhaps I would not have discovered myself. For a girl to listen to a woman talking about how she desires another woman is very positive, because if she feels reflected with that song it will be much easier for her to be aware of her desire. Within the pop world there are very few references that treat lesbianism from a luminous point of view. There are topics that talk about the difficulties of being a lesbian, but I like to treat it as something beautiful and it is something that they have thanked me for. It’s nice to be able to say it openly and not have to hide.