Jarina De Marco, the Dominican singer, rapper, songwriter, and Diplo-endorsed Mad Decent signee, is a creative force.
As a musician, crazily catchy songs like last year's "STFU" and "Tigre" from Broad City defy lazy genre classification. De Marco's songs smartly fuse her worldly cultural influences, including indigenous sounds and rhythms borrowed from her parents, who are respected musicians in their own right.
Furthermore, she has also gained support and collaborations from fellow powerhouses like Mark Ronson and Diplo's Major Lazer project. As a creative director, De Marco co-creates the concepts for her eye-popping music videos. As a performer, she leans heavily into the light, smiling and dancing along with the high-energy crowd after clearing the space with cultural Santeria rituals. She counts queer pop icons such as Dorian Electra as friends, and is engaged with her fans and left-leaning organizations online and IRL about activism and feminist politics.
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All that said, it would appear that De Marco is some kind of unstoppable — and you'd be right to assume as much—but she's only human. De Marco's newest single, the playful, compulsively danceable "Bilingual," out now, is a winking nod to her fluency in multiple languages (she speaks four), but its lighthearted sound comes from a period of darkness following a break-up. For those of you who know firsthand how crushing heartbreak can be, you'll revel in De Marco's hard-earned joy when she intones about the many "fishies in the sea" in the track's opening lines.
PAPER caught up with the Los Angeles-based De Marco on the heels of the release of "Bilingual" to chat about everything from self-care to meeting Fiona Apple to her top ways to get over an ex. Read on and stream "Bilingual," below.
What's the story behind "Bilingual"?
So I had had a breakup with someone that I lived with, and it was someone I was in a serous relationship with, and it came to a point where it had to end. It was a decision that we made together and it was very painful and, I don't know, earlier in my life I would usually spiral out of control when I was heartbroken, but this time around I was way more conscientious about how to take care of myself after heartache. I think in the past, as most people tend to do, it's like all these steps. You look at your former significant other on social media constantly, go out too much, party too much, end up in the arms of someone else too quickly.
I hear that. How did you take care of yourself?
In this case, I just let the sadness sit for a while. I did a lot of self-care, I was around my friends a lot, my girlfriends would take turns sleeping over and just taking care of me, they were incredibly sweet and amazing. But then, you know, I was thrown into a moment of complete "What did I do, why did I break up with him?" and I found myself really missing him and crying a lot. You know, I have a bigger schedule. I have sessions every single day for recording and writing and writing, oftentimes for other people. That day, I had a session and I just couldn't get out of bed and I couldn't pull myself together, I looked like a mess and oh my God it was a disaster but I just got up, and I smacked myself in the face and was like "Jarina, you're gonna put on a face right the fuck now and go out there and be a human, because you have to."
You eventually made peace with yourself.
Exactly. "Bilingual" is really about me being my own friend and talking to myself as I would to a friend. It's like, you know how your friends will have fuckboy boyfriends or whatever, just some asshole that they're dating, and you have the best advice in the world for them, just like something out of Oprah. But for yourself, you never have that. So, I just had to be my own best friend and when I got to the studio I was like, "I got an idea for a song," so that's how it came about. You know, it's true, when there are plenty of fish, and when you're with someone and it's over, it feels like the world has gone to shit but there are plenty of people out there. People don't think that, but it's true!
You're right, but when you're with someone, sometimes it can feel like they are your entire world.
Yes! And that's another thing, I've learned through relationships that getting completely absorbed by your partner is a fatal mistake because if it ends, the void is way larger than it should be. There has to be a balance between friendships and your partner.
So, I know that you speak four languages and I'm insanely jealous. But if we're talking beyond literal languages, and since the song is called "Bilingual," what are the two emotional languages you're operating with in this song?
I mean, you can interpret it however you like. It could be that I'm fluent in the language of love and the language of rationale, because I'm logical and kind to myself. You know, love can make you completely crazy and so can grief, so you could interpret it that way as well. I'm able to see myself for who I am and see that I can move on while feeling the heartache and the emotional part.
Do you feel like the song helped you move on from the heartache?
Yeah, but sometimes you have to tell yourself these things in order to get over this stuff but, in this case, I think that I was ready already. It was time and it was kind of like my declaration of independence. I am independent of this person and I'm also ready to be myself again. But I have to admit, it's also really delicious to listen to sad songs that further plunge the knife into your heart. [Laughs]
Yes! I do the same thing too!
It really helps you get over it. It's weird, almost like a reverse exorcism, like you have to embody the sadness to a point of no return where you don't have any more tears in you. You know what I mean?
I feel the exact same way. Who are your go-to people to listen to when you're feeling like that?
"I'm fluent in the language of love and the language of rationale, because I'm logical and kind to myself."
Immediately. "King of Sorrow," are you kidding me? Sade all day long. I don't need to listen to anyone else, forever.
For me, it's Sade and Fiona Apple. They just get me all up in my feelings.
I love Fiona. I was in a dressing room with her not long ago, and I almost died.
Did you say hello?
No, are you crazy? No fucking way! What would you even say to her? "I love you Fiona, you're amazing" and she'd be like "Oh, okay, thanks?" But yeah, I was literally right next to her for a festival in LA that my friend runs. She asked me to do social media for it and I was in the fucking dressing room with Fiona, shooting her. Like, what is my life!
Okay, so, on the flip side of that, what gets you hype, what gets you happy again, post-breakup?
Oh, I'll put on some Diana Ross, some '70s disco, some Robyn.
Interesting! Like dancing with melancholy.
Yeah, I like that. It's also motivational, mostly all of it is. I'm kind of that person that my friends come to when they need a pep talk. I'm mostly very happy but, when sadness hits, it hits hard, obviously. When I write, I try to write in that kind of mindset. It's not so much like, "Here is my sadness," but more of, "Here's a solution to it." There is all kinds of writing in the world though, and that's just how I want to present my art. I just want to tell people that they're going to love again, they're going to enjoy life, have sex, everything will be fine!
I don't know if you believe in the law of attraction, but it works on both ends, whether you are trying to manifest abundance or depravity.
I agree. My life has been very colorful and complicated so far. I had a lot of sadness early on, but I decided that I wanted to be apart of the light and that I wanted to give light to the world and that's exactly what I'm on course to do.
So what can you tell me about what else you're working on right now?
I have an EP that's already done and is coming out at the top of 2019 probably, but, I'm going to be releasing three songs by December so, I'll have another single coming out in September. I'm really excited about that and I'm very involved in all the videos and creative directing and everything. It's usually very fun and with a bunch of my friends, and I'm part of a really awesome community of artists here in LA. I actually moved from New York to LA, and I'm a New Yorker through and through but, man, it's nice out here.
What are your top ways to get over your ex?
I would say the first thing is is that there is no time limit to how sad you can be. You can be sad for however long you need to be, but also keep an eye on it because if it goes to a point where it starts to be unhealthy, then you need to figure out ways on how to get out of that slump. I also think that muting social media or unfollowing the person is important because that obsessive need to look at what the person is doing is just so fucking bad for you. It's truly an ailment of our time because we didn't have that before.
That is so true.
Yeah it's like you never break up with someone, ever! I get notifications from my boyfriend from like 10 years ago who's now married and has a baby and it's like, "Fuck you, man!" [Laughs]
"I saged the fuck out of my room, had my friends sage me, got some good energy in the house. Sage your pussy, sage all that."
And you're like, "I don't want to see that! You don't deserve to produce spawn."
Right! [Laughs] And your baby is fucking ugly too! Also the other thing is you can't talk to them. No contact. I'm honestly the worst at that because I'm always like, "Let's be friends!" You need some space for a while. Another would be to get support from your friends. See them, have sleepovers, cook for them, have them cook for you, just be with them. Something that really helps is moving furniture around. My last breakup, I switched rooms in my house, completely redecorated everything, bought new sheets, got rid of our bed, and then I just had a clean space. I saged the fuck out of my room, had my friends sage me, got some good energy in the house. Sage your pussy, sage all that.
Yes! Sage the pussy because it has to be ready for the next!
Absolutely! And let me tell you something: there's nothing wrong with a rebound. I was blessed with an old lover that came to town and it was like familiar penis, you know? Penis that I know. So a good guy came through at the right time and it kind of made me feel like, wait a minute, I'm a desirable woman, I'm still a sexual person. That's important! It's also important to know that the world hasn't completely ended because you've shifted. It's a hard thing to grasp, but you have to start saying that to yourself.
That's amazing. I would also add that, for me personally, getting into a routine or getting back into a routine is good. You can even make it new somehow, whether it's like you go to the gym in the morning, or you make your bed, or go to work, you know?
You're totally right. It helps 100% because you don't do that shit when you're with someone, you know? You're like "ooh, I want to stay in bed with you! Let me make you breakfast." So yeah, that's actually great: add it to the list.
Photography: Myles Pettengill