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Bonde do Role - Baile Punk With Lasers
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Despite the obvious Brazilian connection, and the fact they have shared a stage and remixed each other’s tunes, Bonde Do Role and CSS aren’t as similar as much of the press would have you believe. CSS play disco style electro punk while Bonde opt for sexy baile funk with a more than generous dose of cheese. What’s more CSS sing in English and started life as Cansei de Ser Sexy while Bonde sing in slang-heavy Brazilian Portuguese and rather enjoy the fact no-one can pronounce their name properly.
Pedro sent a demo to Marina — a girl from school who everyone remembered as a druggie (translation she liked Hole and Nine Inch Nails)
Writing in The Observer Alex Bellos describes them as a “tropical Beastie Boys,” a fitting moniker and one the group are happy to wear. “Well it makes sense,” explains Pedro, “we are three MCs and one DJ — though our DJ doubles as an MC.” He continues, “just like the Beastie Boys were on the outside of hip hop, we are on the outside of baile funk. There is a lot of prejudice around what we are trying to do.” Bonde do Role are MCs Pedro D’eyrot, Marina Vello and DJ/MC Rodrigo Gorky; a white middle class outfit singing to the sounds of Brazil’s urban ghettos.
As Pedro admits Bonde were “never supposed to be a band,” not a serious one anyway. They come, not from picture postcard Rio, the home of baile funk, but from the colder, beachless Curitiba where the locals are known for their European work ethic. Pedro describes himself as a clubber but acknowledges the rave scene there was “non existent.”
In 2004, Pedro met fellow DJ Gorky and they toyed with the idea of starting an electro rock group. In search of a female singer Pedro sent a demo to Marina — a girl from school who everyone remembered as a druggie (translation she liked Hole and Nine Inch Nails); in an attempt to fill up the CD he chucked in a couple of baile funk mixes. Marina hated the CD but loved the stupid stuff at the end; much vodka flowed and Bonde do Role were born.
The album is a brash mix of bouncy pop hooks laid over dirty baile beats with the occasional heavy metal guitar and frequent sexual references
Gorky claims it’s 2 Many DJ’s fault that he ever ventured behind the decks but the band’s influences encompass baile funk, rave, 80s cheese and 90s pop. Jason Forrest, Daft Punk, Diplo, Van Halen, The Scorpions, 2Unlimited and The Venga Boys are just a few of the names to spill from Pedro’s lips when pushed.
Pedro describes Bonde’s music as baile punk, but it was the baile funk aspect that caught Diplo’s attention in 2005. Baile funk has been described as the “feral child of Miami bass” by some but Gorky calls it “party funk” and in Pedro’s words it is “like hip hop gone punk but in a fun way. It’s like a cross between the Toy Dolls and the 2 Live Crew with beats made to dance to.”
According to Gorky “it’s a social lyric” — a tale of an office boy saving money to go to the beach and hoping he gets on a crowded bus so he can be rub himself against the female passengers
The trio signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent label in 2006 and released ‘Diplo Presents Bonde do Role” under his auspices, causing quite a stir in both the UK and US. Now they have teamed up with Domino Records (home to Arcade Fire and the Arctic Monkeys) for . . . With Lasers their first full length album .
The album is a brash mix of bouncy pop hooks laid over dirty baile beats with the occasional heavy metal guitar and frequent sexual references; it is pure party music. “We really just make music to have fun; its an excuse to listen to music, to have a laugh and make our friends laugh. We try and have fun when making music and make music for people who want to have fun,” explains Pedro, “if we don’t have a good time making a track its simple, we don’t put it out.”
One of Pedro’s favourite tracks is ‘Office Boy’, an ode to the guy that “stands in a queue for three hours to pay the boss’ phone bill,” — nearly everyone’s first job in Brazil. According to Gorky “it’s a social lyric;” a tale of an office boy saving money to go to the beach and hoping he gets on a crowded bus so he can be rub himself against the female passengers.
“Gorky really likes James Bond so I wrote a song about him being gay and turned him into James Bonde,” she reveals. “He would be so much better being gay. The song is about how the Queen would sack him if she found out he uses false eyelashes.”
Much of the album is sung in Pajuba, an obscure Brazilian sub-dialect that sprang up in São Paulo’s gay community, and spread through Brazil’s under-ground rave scene. It delights in hidden meanings but Pedro denies ‘Solta O Frango’, the title of their first single which translates as ‘Release the Chicken’, is an example of this — I remain sceptical.
One track that does make heavy use of Pajuba and its hidden meaning is ‘James Bonde’, written by Marina. “Gorky really likes James Bond so I wrote a song about him being gay and turned him into James Bonde,” she reveals. “He would be so much better being gay. The song is about how the Queen would sack him if she found out he uses false eyelashes.”
The fact the album has an English title is not a clever trick to sell more records but a joke Pedro assures me, a Brazilian joke. “In Brazil there is this idea that everything ‘with lasers’ is superior. You see an advert for a toaster ‘with lasers’ but what are lasers on a toaster going to do? The joke started on Orkut [Google’s social networking site] people would add ‘with lasers’ to their profiles or to the names of their groups — so we wanted to become Bonde do Role With Lasers.”
Convincing the masses to buy an album sung in Portuguese is never going to be easy but judging by the reaction to their Corsica Studios show got last week Bonde have little to worry about. It’s something Pedro finds difficult to relate to, “for us its different, we were brought up listening to music in English having no idea what bands were singing about but would try and still along anyway.”
The group were set for a move to Germany, because “it’s cheaper to live in Berlin and people go crazy and get naked,” but London now looks set to become their home. According to Pedro the move is for “practical reasons” (read boyfriends/girlfriends). ” I love this city , like any Brazilian will tell you it rains too much and its not as sunny we’d like, but London is crazy.”
A string of festival appearances awaits over the summer including Glastonbury, Lovebox, Bestival and Furia but as to where Pedro sees himself in a years time the answer is clear, “on vacation — on the beach, in Ibiza with a Mojito in my hand watching the Venga Boys! After that who knows, maybe we’ll even make a second album.”
Bonde do Role . . . With Lasers is out on June 4th on Domino.
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