LIZZ Forges an Imperio for the Future of Chilean Hip-Hop

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On her Imperio EP, Chilean rapper, producer, and DJ LIZZ (aka Elisa Espinoza) imagines a post apocalyptic future in which terrestrial life as we know it is no longer viable, and humans take refuge underground. In this subterranean future, Espinoza explains, society revolves around humanistic values and not financial power — a vision that touches on the core of many activist initiatives in present-day Chile.

Citing a wealth of disparate inspirations from fantastical anime to electrotypic erotica, Espinoza is a self-professed child of the Internet. LIZZ inhabits the digital realm, molding her artistic identity from cultural mélanges of mainstream and underground web content. Her versatility as an artist has made her an outstanding member of Chile’s elusive, hybridized scene of trap, hip-hop, and reggaeton, around which a handful of small creative collectives have grown.

How would you describe your musical community, and is there prospect for its growth in the future? Who are the important artists in that world?

It’s evident that each year the scene has strengthen and grown. There are several people keeping up with their own musical branches, throwing parties, producing, and building audiences.

More than the exposure or money, maintaining a perpetual flow of music within the scene promises a future in which a much more concrete and formed community will be appreciated in Chile and abroad.  It’s already happening that each year, DJs, musicians, and producers are expanding their borders, so logically, the future of our musical evolution will be good, and that’s something super encouraging for the new generations of the next bebes músicos.

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It seems that you’ve found a niche between trap music, originally from Atlanta, and reggaeton, originally from the Caribbean. Do you think that the merging of these styles could be a new Chilean sound?

I think it’s already happening, and it can’t be claimed as a new Chilean sound since in the end, as a country, we are the summary of all the information that comes to us from the outside. We’re everything at the same time. Although we don’t have a traditional “Chilean” musical identity that defines us culturally, we’ve created a multicultural, varied Chile, which advances with what’s happening right in this moment. We’re on the vanguard, first, because we’re the Internet.

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Are there any conflicts between your persona as LIZZ and your life as Elisa?

Truthfully, I only tend to separate my work from my life itself. More than having two personas or two realities, it’s about clarifying the objectives in my music and other projects. It’s all connected, either writing text for an exposition, planning a new EP, writing a direction for a video, or doing art direction for an ad spot. I’m Elisa a.k.a. LIZZ for those who know me, my friends. And for those who don’t know me, I’m just LIZZ.

What are your musical plans for 2016?

 This year I’m going to release the second volume of the Imperio EP, and after that, more video clips for “Chacal,” “Piscis,” “21,” “INTRO,” and “Noche.” I’m going to go to Mexico again, to Argentina, and if everything goes well we’re planning to do a special video for the EP release. Also, a track with Coral Casino which is ready, and another which we did with CEAESE for his new album Local Trap Stars, and a surprise remix compilation!

We spoke with Espinoza briefly about some of these upstart movements, her outlook for the future of Chilean music, and her artistic identity as and outside of LIZZ.

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