Jarina De Marco has the majesty of a deer, but never its horns. This Dominican girl comes with all the Caribbean folk mixed with hip-hop ever since her first single “Main Dish”—which draws in all of her Latin fury. De Marco grew up shifting between Brazil, Dominican Republic and Canada. Having that background, her playful personality and her talent contributed to the formula—this girl doesn’t need the Chemical X to be super powerful. This past October 30th, she released her video for “El Venao” where we can hear the familiar lyrics of the popular Latin song with De Marco’s sweet voice and a beat that won’t let you stop moving your feet. This femme fatale is preparing to eat the world, and she told us how.
Your mother is Dominican, your father is Brazilian and they’re both musicians, it’s inevitable to think you grew up in a carnival. How would you describe the influence of this background on your work?
The music my parents made and listened to was instrumental in shaping my own musical preferences when I was growing up. I was exposed to Brazilian music through my father, and world music/Dominican folkloric music through my mother. They both listened to a lot of jazz and blues as well, and that was what influenced me when I first began writing music. Ironically, it wasn’t until I started writing pop music that I noticed the Brazilian and Dominican influences seeping into my songs.
What’s the artistic path you’ve followed to get to where you are now?
A combination of being brought up in a musical family, being in bands and in the studio my whole life…and going to school for music has led to me to where I am now.
You speak more than two languages and belong to a few different cultures. How do you manage to mix it all and still keep your own essence?
Being a third-culture kid, I was influenced by all these different things while I was still very young, so I naturally mix all of the cultures I have been exposed to into my music.
“Main Dish” is your first single and it’s a version of “Los Olivos” by Ogum Balenyó but with a pop twist and Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’s” hip-hop beats. How did you put it all together into this great piece?
My producer at the time had this great track that sampled DJ Premier’s sample of “Big Pimpin” and I just started singing the chorus to “Los Olivos” and took it from there.
What about “Spell on You”?
Same process as on “Main Dish” except with Screaming Jay Hawkings sample of “I Put a Spell on You.”
By 1994, your family had to escape the Dominican Republic because of a song they played against Joaquín Balaguer, how was that experience?
I was five years old, so I had some idea what was going on when we were rushed away immediately following their performance. It was frightening and exciting, and I understood the situation well enough to know they had done something noble and for a cause. Being so young, it felt like an adventure for me, but I know it was a harrowing experience for my parents.
What was it like working with Wyclef Jean?
He was a lot of fun to work with and an invaluable resource for songwriting advice. He is an extremely talented and charismatic dude.
You gave the song “El Venao” a whole new spin and it’s amazing. Why did you pick this song?
I was in the studio late night messing around, and a friend of mine had this electronic beat. We started singing the song over the beat as a joke since it’s such an iconic and over the top ridiculous song; it ended up working so well that we actually recorded it.
What’s next for you as an artist and what can we look forward as an audience?
I’m currently working on my EP that will probably come out next year.