Photos by Clayton Cubitt
Hails From: Dominican Republic, Brazil & Canada.
Resides In: Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Languages: Spanish, English, French, & Portuguese.
Mass Appeal: Tell me about your upbringing. You had refugee status for a minute…you had to leave the DR?
Jarina DeMarco: I was born in the DR, raised there and Brazil and in Montreal. I spent some time in Germany before I moved to New York about eight years ago. My parents had a band together. They were famous in the DR. My parents sang a song against Joaquin Balaguer in front of his military people at a museum opening and we had to leave after that.
MA: What was that like, being young and being in that turmoil? Did you understand what was happening?
JDM: Yeah, I knew what was happening. I grew up with parents who were musicians and hippies – not really hippies, but revolutionary and very much about people’s rights and this man [Joaquin Balaguer] infringed upon them. And my grandfather was also kind of that way too, so it’s in the blood. Yeah, it was an adventure really, and I never really felt like we were in danger, even though we were. But they made me feel like we weren’t.
MA: What do you consider yourself?
JDM: I’m a big mutt; my mother’s Dominican, my father’s Brazilian. I was raised in both countries and in Montreal, so there’s a lot of different cultures inside of me. English and American music influenced me a lot too, so I’m a little bit of everything. I don’t think I consider myself one ethnicity, I consider myself a citizen of the world. Especially the Americas: North America, Central America and South America.
MA: What’s up with referring to yourself as a “Bruja?”
JDM: The Bruja thing came along because some hip hop mogul in the industry – I’m not going to say who – saw my video and was like, “Nope, I’m not going to work with her, she’s a witch.”
And then I got a couple of bad responses in DR because Dominicans have a hard time understanding Santeria or Voodoo and you know, Hollywood has also made it into the thing where it’s witchcraft and it’s negative…
What these religions are, is a mixture between Catholicism and African religions that were brought over with the slaves and they mixed – just like music – they just mixed and created this hybrid of Catholic beliefs and old African gods, and it’s still practiced today. I bring it up because I saw a lot of that growing up because of the music I was listening to when I was little. My mother and I would go to the countryside and we would go to these parties and that’s what was happening. These ceremonies were happening. So it’s a part of me. Many parts of Brazil practice that.
MA: What is your opinion about the current situation going on with Haitians being deported from the DR?
JDM: It’s absolutely appalling. I was actually emailing with some musicians in the DR, and we’re thinking of making a record about this, everyone chipping in. It’s absolutely atrocious. I’m embarrassed and I’m angry at my country for being so blatantly racist. It’s just horrific, displacing so many people because of their race. They brought them over during the late ‘20s to cut the sugarcane to boost the economy, and now that they’re done with them, they want to send back all of their children who have been there for generations. It’s really ludicrous, and I’m hoping something is done about it.
MA: How do you describe your music style?
JDM: It’s world, it’s hip hop, it’s jazz. All the things I’ve grown up with. I grew up listening to Billie Holiday, electronic music as well. I grew up listening to a lot of Björk and Radiohead…so many things.
MA: What lane do you want to create in the music industry?
JDM: I feel like there’s a wide open lane for a Latin-descended musician out there. It’s time for somebody new, and I feel like that person’s me.
MA: So you’re trying to bring back the Latin flavor?
JDM: Yeah, it’s not particularly Latin, because I’m not going to be speaking La Vida Loca, but there are so many English-speaking Latinos in America right now. There’s nobody to look up to. There’s nobody saying, “Hey I’m this, and I’m also this.” You know, because I’m not just one thing, and neither are they.
MA: Tell me about your performance style.
JDM: I’m just starting to perform this [new] material. Right now the band is limited, it’s me and my partner Justin; he and I make all the music together. It’s him on the keys and guitar, and it’s me singing and rapping. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to have a full band and make it a bigger show. I just auditioned some, I’m just in the beginning of things, but there will be dancers. I mean I dance, but yeah, there will be dancers.
MA: What do you want the world to know about you?
JDM: There’s a tropical storm coming. It’s brewing.