Anita Tijoux was born in France in 1977 and started rapping in French, but make no mistake: She’s as Chilean as a cueca (the country’s national dance).
Friday, Tijoux spoke to us on the phone from Santiago. She’s a socially conscious rapper and the daughter of a man who fled the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, so it was inevitable that we mostly talked about the economic aftershocks of the Chilean earthquake, but her career can give you an idea of what she sounds like: After discovering French rap, she went on to NWA and Public Enemy, then back to Europe (this time rap from Spain, like Mala Rodríguez) and now “a little bit of everything, from Ryuichi Sakamoto to Chico Buarque.”
Nominated as Best New Artist and Best Urban artist by MTV Latin America, and a guest on Latin alternative-pop superstar Julieta Venegas’ Limón y sal album, Tijoux will release her second album (first in the States), 1977, on April 27 on Nacional Records.
Where were you when the `February 27` earthquake hit?
I was in the middle of a show. My colleague was onstage and I was waiting to go up there, and all of a sudden everything started moving. I thought it was the people jumping, but soon enough it was clear that it wasn’t the people. There was collective hysteria for a while, but fortunately the emergency exits were open and I was able to get out.
Much has been written about the fact that, unlike Haiti, Chile is better prepared to deal with an earthquake, as if an 8.8 quake wasn’t that big of a deal and the help wasn’t so badly needed.
Yeah, that’s been going on … and they compare how many dead, or how strong the quakes were. This is not a competition. Our earthquake was 8.8, and nothing can change that. It happened. It’s real. People buried underneath a building, that’s also real. And the people swept by the sea, that’s also real. Even if only one or two people had died, that’s important enough, isn’t it?
The eartquake happened days before the new president-elect, Miguel Piñera `a right-winger`, was about to take power, after a very popular leftist government run by Michelle Bachelet. Are you at all worried about the quake being used as an excuse to apply shock therapy to the economy and further screw the poor masses?
Of course! Like my friend on Twitter said when an aftershock hit during the presidential ceremony, “Not even the earth wants them.” It was very symbolic. And when the looting started, they couldn’t find a better way to deal with it than sending the military, and now people want the army, and we’re back in a state of curfew, like during the dictatorship. It’s disgusting. The quake made it easier for them to turn us into a police state. ... Now violence is justified. They’re right-wing governments and anything goes in the name of “peace and order.” And don’t get me started on the economic violence. … There’s an extremely dark era ahead of us Chileans. On the other hand, it’ll be interesting to see what will happen to a social and political coalitions that should try to balance things out a little.
Have you ever been in the U.S. before? Who are you coming with?
No, this is my first time ever. I’ll have a supporting DJ and MC and then on the last dates of the tour in New York I’ll have DJ Chela, a female DJ. And check this out: Those born in 1977 enter for free to all of my shows. Make sure you put that in your story. •