CSS - Crazy Sexy Cool
Certainly the most out-there signing sub pop had made until Flight of the Conchords, Brazilians Cansei de ser Sexy, or CSS for short, launched themselves onto the world in 2005/2006 and have been elsewhere ever since, playing a single show at home in that time. In Australia for the third time to headline Future Music Festival, 3D’s Nina Bertok spoke with group member Luiza Sá.
Sometimes you’re so uncool you’re actually cool – just ask Brazilian electro pop explosion Cansei de Ser Sexy. After former bassist Iracema Trevisan decided to form a band of peeps more concerned with partying up than being cool, ironically, what she got was a group of art college buddies who went on to conquer the world through their music as much as their fashion sense.
“We all pretty much hung out at the same clubs and went to the same exhibitions,” guitarist and drummer Luiza Sá explains. “We had quite a lot in common as people, especially with the bands that we grew up listening to. We liked listening to pop and rock bands who sang in English but later on we started listening to electro and punk music. I think that’s why there is such a diverse sound. Everyone in the band has a similar background of the stuff they like that includes some really commercial music that is really bad but that just makes you want to jump up and dance when you’re drunk.”
While there is nothing cheesy about CSS – a band that couldn’t be further from commercial artists like Fergie and Christina Aguilera whom Sá speaks of – the urge to get up and shake booty is precisely what the band inspires in its own audiences.
“We were talking this morning about all the shows we’ve done and we all agree that they’re just getting better and better, which is just crazy,” Sá enthuses. “We are very lucky to have the audiences that we have because it’s all like one big family. The audiences in the UK seem to have the best reaction to us for some reason.”
As Sá points out, despite their Brazilian origins, there is nothing particularly ‘exotic’ about CSS in the traditional sense.
“Brazilians are seen as more exotic – people take interest in that. But that can make it even harder on you as a band,” the 25-year-old says. “The Brazilian market is not really a big market when it comes to music but we’ve kind of liked that challenge of having to work a lot harder to get here than an English-speaking band would have, as an example. Our relationship with the English language has changed a lot between our first and second albums because we’ve had to speak English a lot more. People do ask us how come we sing in both English and in Portuguese and it’s difficult to explain. To me, Portuguese is a beautiful language, like French, but it’s not a pop music language, it’s very hard to make pop music with it because it is just so serious-sounding. I think English is the basis of pop music and it gives you a lot more freedom to play around with words to fit them into the music. It made sense for us to sing in English and once we started we didn’t see a reason to stop.”
Which is understandable when you’re onto a good thing, as Sá recognises.
“The whole journey has been really amazing for us,” she says. “We haven’t been home in a long time. Actually the last time we played there it was more than a year ago; we definitely haven’t been back for about two years. That show was very, very emotional and just amazing. At the moment we are trying to book a show back home but we’re also trying to make some time to take a break. The Brazilian music scene is not very exciting. It’s kind of very traditional – I mean, I haven’t seen anything that has made my heart stop in a long, long time as far as music goes.”
With plans for a big, long break under way, Sá admits the band is also keen to start work on their next album.
“We’ll start writing for the next album this year,” she confirms. “Our last album [Donkey] was a bit of a big lesson for me. The first album [Cansei de Ser Sexy] we did everything ourselves and then for our last album we went into this really nice, big studio which was so amazing. It really was a learning experience because I’d never worked on a record in that way before but it was wonderful. We made a conscious decision that we would want to sound on the album just like how we sounded when we played live; we wanted the album to sound as much as possible as our concerts. We all worked very hard on it. We’ve never been afraid of hard work and that’s how we did all of this. If you have that opportunity I think you just have to grab it. I’m talking about the chance to sign with Sub Pop as well, we were major fans of the label and big fans of Nirvana, so when the chance came up we took it. Especially for us being a band from Brazil and being so very different to their other bands, it was amazing to be able to do that.”
With a series of CSS dates coming up around Australia this February, Sá says she looks forward to spending the summer in Australia as long as possible.
“We’ve been to Australia twice now and I’ve loved it so much,’’ she claims. “It’s amazing because it’s like the picture of England but with a Californian background. People are so funny and so joyful and the place is so placid. Australians have much respect for the nature and even the young people are so impressive because they are mature. There is a lot going on in Australia so I am going to be staying on a little bit longer. I’m doing a project with a friend of mine in Melbourne so we will be doing an exhibition because I also like to take a lot of photographs. So I will be working on that for a little while when I am there.”
WHAT: Play Metro Theatre / Future Music Festival, Royal Randwick Racecourse
WHEN: Friday 27 February / Saturday 28
MORE: futuremusicfestival.com.au / myspace.com/canseidesersexy