After a string of buzzy, prismatic singles, Chilean indie pop queen Javiera Mena has finally unveiled her brand new record, 1. Entusiamo. The 5-track EP is the first in a series of mini-albums she’ll be releasing over the coming months, quenching the thirst of fans who are eager for new dance floor tearjerkers. To our delight, 1. Entusiasmo consists of a deeply satisfying melange of synthpop, soaring ballads and acoustic throwbacks. It impressively surveys Mena’s nearly two decades in the music industry while hinting at future creative directions.
“There’s a massive club culture here,” Mena tells Remezcla from her home in Madrid. “Raves dates back to La Ruta del Bakalao [of the 80s and 90s], and I meant to reflect that liberating energy in the new record.” On songs like “Flashback” and “Diva,” harder, more futuristic beats take a hold of production; clearly a result of her time in Spain and nourishing travels through continental Europe. Additionally, the EP was conceived over the course of the pandemic, with Mena perfectly capturing our collective longing for danceable catharsis, adding, “There is nothing I want more right now than to run out to a packed discotheque.”
“I’m very much a song-driven artist,” she says, also expressing elation over the new release format and noting how breaking up the album cycle into singles and EPs will keep her songs from getting lost in the sauce moving forwards.
On a personal front, Mena remains supportive and optimistic about Chile’s ongoing socio-political metamorphosis, attending marches during visits home and speaking up digitally and in media while away. “I’ve been committed to this social movement for years,” she expresses animatedly. “When I put out “Espada” in 2013, the girl with a sword in her backpack was a reference to the student occupations happening in Chile at the time.”
Javiera Mena remains one of our generation’s most beloved storytellers, effortlessly weaving hedonistic pop and intimate songwriting into an impeccable discography. Mena got to the nitty gritty of this new chapter in her career by breaking down every track on 1. Entusiasmo and shouting out friends and collaborators while touching on her anime obsessions and love of erotic songwriting.
1. Entusiasmo is out everywhere now. This interview has been lightly edited & condensed for clarity purposes.
“Flashback” was the lead single for this new project. Tell us about the process of creating this song and the concept behind its Akira-flavored music video.
I wrote “Flashback” in Mexico City with Luis Jímenez of Los Mesoneros and produced the track with Stefan Storm, from Sweden, which kickstarted a very collaborative era. Even though the pandemic drove us inside, I also think it opened me up to new ideas and partnerships. For the video, I was dressed by designer Matías Hernán, who loves Akira and anime in general, so I felt like his clothes really represented me. With the video’s retro-futurism vibes and a beautiful motorcycle, it all matched perfectly with the song’s energy.
“Diva” is your latest single, arriving with an explosive feature from Chico Blanco. How did you two meet and what led you to collaborate on this wild banger?
“Diva” was born at a friend’s house during a party that ran long… That’s where I met Chico Blanco and we realized we have a lot in common. Even though he sings with more of a trap flow, the backdrop for his songs is usually techno or electro-pop, so we make a good match… this felt like a really great opportunity to connect and collaborate with rising scenes here in Madrid and Andalusia, which are experiencing a kind of creative golden age.
Over the years, you’ve become more comfortable making bold, erotic statements in your music and “Corazón Astral” is definitely the EPs pinnacle of sexy.
Yes, “Corazón Astral” is a very erotic song! It’s sexy and exploratory and I don’t get to write many songs like this because it can get played out. But when the right one comes I love it! “Corazón Astral” is my baby, even though I crafted it in the studio with Pablo [Stipicic]. It’s different; very personal and half-spoken, so it harkens to these clichés in French and Italian music where the sexy girl whispers to you. The song’s imagery is inspired in the North of Chile with its mix of beaches, palm trees and the starry desert sky.
“Dos” is one of the most majestic songs of your career, and yet another collaborative home run on this EP. What can you tell us about this orchestral masterpiece?
I wrote “Dos” with Marian Ruzzi at her home in Mexico City. We bought a bottle of whiskey and started talking about love and life. By the end of it, we were adamant I wasn’t leaving until we had a song on our hands. “Dos” was inspired by situations where we both liked two different people at the same time and how confusing those emotions can feel. The result was this super epic ballad. I’d been wanting to create a classical piece grounded in piano and strings for a long time, taking a quick break from electronic music, and Marian was the one who encouraged me to go for it.
While most of the EP has a futuristic quality, “Pasión AKA Ilusión” echoes early stripped down songs like “Ahondar En Tí” and “Como Siempre Soñé.” Was this song meant as a nostalgic look back?
This song went through lots of phases. First, it was very electronic; then, it went ‘80s, sounding like Miami Sound Machine. This was the most challenging track to pin down but in the end we opted for an acoustic approach. I wanted to switch it up. “Pasión AKA Ilusión” has these very loud choruses, which sound a bit like Esquemas Juveniles where the harmonies are as present as the lead vocals, so maybe that’s why it recalls that kind of melancholy. I felt this was a great way of closing the EP—having followed this character through a party, falling in love and then just laying out on the grass and letting out a long, relaxing exhale.