Chilean artist Javiera Mena has been busting out electro-dance hits since 2006. Her most recent EP, however—I. Enthusiamo—comes out of a completely new headspace. In 2019, protests broke out in Mena’s native Chile to draw attention to the country’s growing issues with social inequity and corruption. A year later, lockdown started, and the protests continued. In the midst of everything, Mena managed to find a way back to the music. This May, she released her first new body of work since 2018’s Espejo. And trust us, it’s worth the wait.
We sat down with Mena to talk about impossible desire, creativity, and the devil.
You describe the new EP as a nocturnal album.
I think it’s because the beat of the music is a dance beat, but the poetry of the lyrics are very nocturnal. When it’s night, our minds are at their most quiet. We can arrive at the vulnerability. In Spanish, we say that at night the devil comes to us, but in a good way.
Like the devil as maybe a sexual or creative force?
Yes it’s like the tarot cards. The devil is a super creative energy. Super erotic, too, because they have they energy of eros. All of it is night energy.
The single ‘Dos’ is about the possibility (or impossibility) of loving two people at once. Is that something you’d experienced?
Yes, that’s been my experience. I watched this Netflix series called “Dark,”
That German show? It’s so good.
That show has influenced me a lot. When I was writing the songs for this EP, it’s all about desire and the chaos of desire, which comes from a combination of reading, watching “Dark,” talking to my friends.
Has the pandemic played a role at all?
The genesis of the songs started before the pandemic. I think that with the social revolt in Chile (Estallido Social) we have a lot of new energy in Chile. People are ready for a revolution. This is the energy I’ve taken for these songs. The pandemic was more a factor during production. But the lyrics came from before the pandemic.
How did it feel to go from this social revolt straight into lockdown?
It’s crazy because I move between Santiago, Chile, and Madrid. Right now, I’m in Madrid, and it’s a very different historical moment in both places. In Chile right now, all the revolts are quiet but the people are super angry, because the pandemic has revealed all this social inequality. People are waiting to be able to return to normal, but we have to build a new constitution for the country because of the revolt, which is super important right now.
What are a few things that are influencing your mood right now?
Dark is one, another is this book that feels very relevant to the pandemic. It’s called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It’s about how humans destroyed the world. And Brigitte Vasallo, a writer from Barcelona who writes about monogamy and relationships.
What’s your greatest hope for this EP?
I want people to see it as an evolution. I have this new sound, and I have so many new songs but it’s very difficult to evolve with your music. But this is my only ambition, and I think I’ve done it.♦