Brazilian band breaks boundaries in indie scene. The sexy sound of São Paulo! Six friends got together with the exclusive commitment of having fun while playing music. The result is an international recognition never seen before for a Brazilian pop band.
By Roberta Wiseman
In an age when new bands are manufactured every week by marketing people intent on making money, a Brazilian band has proved that the irreverent, creative, independent spirit of the punk movement can still be found in pop music. CSS – an acronym for their Portuguese name “Cansei de Ser Sexy” (meaning “ I’m Tired of Being Sexy”), are a group of five girls and one boy, who got together for the sole purpose of simply having fun and making music.
CSS sings only in English. Musically, their sounds stem from grunge and British indie rock, put in a mixer with a heavy dose of contemporary popular culture (the group’s name comes from an alleged quote of Beyoncé) and bright and catchy melodies, that owe a great deal to the group’s love of “cheesy” old pop hits.
They were formed in 2003 when Iracema Trevisan, now CSS’s bassist, decided to leave the band she was in because they were trying to be serious musicians, she just wanted to enjoy herself without this pressure. Instead she gathered five of her friends together to hang out and make music – Adriano Cintra (who became the band’s drummer, is also on vocals, and writes songs), Ana Rezende (keyboardist, guitarist, harmonica player), Luiza Sa (guitarist, keyboards), Carolina Parra (guitar, drums, vocals) and Lovefoxxx, (lead singer, songwriter).
The friends knew each other from the Sao Paulo arts scene, where they appear to have been more interested in having a good time than in forging careers, and had been students at the University of Sao Paulo. Only Ira herself and Adriano had a musical background. In fact Adriano was more skilled with the guitar, but in a resolutely anti-professional move, he took on the drums. This lack of musical background probably contributes to their fresh and unique sound.
From Brazil to the world
The lack of professionalism meant that there was no pressure to be a great band, so the six friends could relax and enjoy themselves. Their early shows consisted of one minute songs played twice, and they had their own club night, in which they would play the silliest and worse songs they could find. Their sense of fun was infectious, however, and after being invited to play at Brazil’s TIM festival on the same stage as Kraftwerk, in front of 5,000 people, they decided to make more of a conscious effort on song creation and musical skills.
But CSS’s popularity really grew through the medium of the internet, the band’s blog and MySpace page remains an important link between CSS and people who enjoy their music. In the early days their name was made among music lovers, as MP3s of their songs were downloaded hugely from Trama Virtual (a musicians’ website). Eventually the mainstream press caught up. Including The Guardian newspaper from the UK, whose writer, Peter Culshaw, after seeing them perform, gushed that CSS “could be the biggest band ever to come out of South America”.
The group was finally signed to the Trama Virtual record label in Brazil, and in 2005 their first album was released, which included an extra blank CD so that purchasers could burn a copy for a friend. In 2006 they signed with Sub Pop (Nivana’s record label) and their international debut was released. In 2007 CSS toured the United States and Canada, and then Europe where they played at the notorious Glastonbury Festival in Britain, in front of thousands of fans and TV viewers
A bit of Canada
An important feature of the band is their love of, and connections to, popular culture. Their music has been used on the Brazilian version of Big Brother, the South American broadcasting of The Simple Life (with the song “Meeting Paris Hilton”) and the British broadcasting of Ugly Betty. Their first international single, “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above”, references the now defunct Canadian band, Death From Above 1979 – a favourite band of Lovefoxxx’s, who apparently wrote the song so that if Death From Above googled themselves they might stumble across CSS. The song was rated sixth best song of 2006 by British magazine NME.
To listen to CSS: myspace.com/canseidesersexy