Since Sub Pop re-released its debut album to a wider audience last year, Cansei de Ser Sexy (or, more frequently, CSS) Sao Paulo, Brazil’s band of graphic designers, art students and film producers, has been taking its disco-tinged indie-rock cabaret around the world. These days the band is in Europe and the United Kingdom (a New York show is scheduled for the end of February), but we sat down with guitarist/harmonica player Ana Rezende at a recent New City appearance. Jammed in a tiny back room of Webster Hall that was pulsing as the music pounded from the stacks onstage, we talked about the band’s time on the road, Paris Hilton and Brazilian hipsters.
Your band got together in 2003. How did it happen?
We kind of knew each other. I knew some of them before, but we got together really because we would go out to the same nightclubs, and we decided to start a band. We’re lucky because it’s really nice people that we would hang out with anyway and we’re all musicians. I knew Adriano because he worked hanging posters for some nightclubs in Brazil, and we were both in the nightclub scene and became really good friends.
That’s important, because you end up spending so much time on the road.
Yeah, we really have fun as a group. It’s great, and we’re lucky. Everybody in the band thinks the same way, and we think it can be so boring to go out and see a boring band, so we don’t want that for people who come to see us play. It’s nice because we really like to interact with each other on stage, and we all really like being there and having a good time. Even when we’re not on tour, we still like to go out together, because we’re going around the world with our really good friends. It’s amazing luck that we have.
What happens after the Ladytron tour?
This is a mini-tour that ends October 24 in Arizona. Then we’re going to go to California and play a few shows, and then we come back to New York and then go to Europe.
Is this your first time playing worldwide? How do you like it?
Yeah, we got to America in July and started the tour with Diplo, and then we went to the U.K., Belgium and Holland to play a little tour, and now we’re back here to play these few shows and go to Europe and then back to Brazil. I’m excited and I love it, but sometimes it’s very tiring to be doing the same thing over and over, and it’s so different the different crowd you get each night. But we get to travel all over the world with our friends and we get to play, which is not boring at all. We love that.
Do you have a favorite place?
Yeah, New York is awesome. The Warsaw was amazing, and both shows we played here this time were really good. England was great — the people were fucking psycho! It was the first time that people were actually screaming [our name]. We had to go back on stage like three times to play encores. Huge cities are always really good. New York, L.A. and San Francisco; Sao Paolo where we come from; and Washington, D.C. is great too. The people there are really crazy about gigs. We played two times there, and even on a Monday everybody was freaking out and so crazy about music. Everybody got really excited. Glasgow, too: Scottish people rule.
Are you the only South American band on Sub Pop?
Yeah, we are. They just signed a Swedish band, but we’re the first Latin American band on Sub Pop. I’m totally aware that we’re not really a Brazilian band and our songs aren’t really traditional music, but you can tell that we’re Brazilian by looking at our Web site.
When your album came out in Brazil did you release it independently or did you have a label?
No, we had a label in Brazil called Trama, but then we decided to just send the record all over because we thought that maybe someone would sign us and we could tour here, and Sub Pop wanted to sign us to tour the whole world, and for me and everybody it’s amazing. They’re huge. I got my first guitar because I really liked Nirvana ten years ago.
Sub Pop took off some of the Brazilian songs for the American release, though. How did you feel about that?
It was a mutual decision, actually, and it makes sense, because they were going to release the album here and we’re not really a Brazilian-sounding band, so it was just a decision that we made. They sent us a list of songs that they wanted and I actually really like our Sub Pop record. The Brazilian one has fourteen songs on it and some are in Portuguese, but the Sub Pop one has some songs that aren’t on the Brazilian record: The first couple of songs aren’t on it; they are on a different EP that we released together with the record company. This record has eleven tracks and it’s forty minutes and it’s like a punch, you know? Sometimes we do play some songs in Portuguese, and I totally understand why Sub Pop didn’t want to release the Portuguese songs live, and we are releasing singles and the Portuguese songs are on the B-sides.
How did you guys come up with your name? Is it really from a Beyonce quote?
Yeah, it’s true. First of all, Beyoncé was a huge influence on us, because when we first got together the first thing we did was party together. We decided to throw a party every fifteen days at this nightclub in Brazil where Adriano used to work, and it was when Beyonce’s song “Crazy Love” came out. It was just a fucking crazy time and that was like the song of the year. Anyway, one night Adriano was like, “I got a gig for us,” and it was the next week but we didn’t have a name, so we said, “We really have to find a name or something. Fuck.” And we heard that Beyonce had said that she was really tired of being sexy, which is a really retarded thing to say. It’s like saying, “Oh, I’m tired of being rich.” So “tired of being sexy” in Portuguese is casei de ser sexy, so we put it on the flier to promote the show that we were playing and we kind of got stuck with that name. It was just the stupidest name that we could have ever come up with, but it’s funny and I love it. But sometimes people think that we’re serious and we’re tired of being recognized for our bodies or something like that, and it’s nothing like that at all.
Have you guys met Paris Hilton? Does she know about the song?
She knows, yeah. We don’t know her, but DJ Aoki in L.A. — who is a friend of ours and he’s friends with all those people like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton because he’s like a celebrity deejay — he told Paris Hilton about it, and I don’t know if she has heard the song, but she knows about it. We hear all these crazy stories like, “Oh, Paris Hilton was dancing on the table in Ibiza to your song,” but it’s a lie. We hear so many crazy stories like that.
What are some of your favorite bands? What are you listening to right now?
I am listening to a lot of Tilly & The Wall. I love them. We became friends with them in Belgium. They’re really nice people and I love the record. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Cat Power, the latest record. Everybody in the band actually loves her. I think that her new album is fucking amazing, The Greatest. We really like to listen to pop-pop-pop songs. Nelly Furtado, Destiny’s Child, and Christina Aguilera’s new album is good. She hits really high notes; I can’t understand how she gets there.
Do they have a word for “hipster” in Portuguese?
It’s an American word, right? Not really. But our next album will be Hipster Homeless. We’ll have the Hipster Homeless tour, and then the next one will be Divas on Crack, inspired by Whitney Houston. We love her.