"We are not sexy," says Ana Rezende, guitarist for Cansei de Ser Sexy. "It's very funny because we came here to America and Canada and every new related thing calls us, like, 'the sexy Brazilian girls' and stuff like that, I think because Brazilian girls have this image of being very sexy. I don't think we are, at least in the most popular way of thinking about sexy. Because our name doesn't really mean anything. It doesn't mean that we are sexy."
The São Paulo group's name actually comes from a far more unlikely source than the appearance of its six members (one of whom is actually a Brazilian boy, not girl).
"It's a quote from Beyoncé Knowles," Rezende explains. "We had our first gig planned, and we didn't have a name for the band. [Singer] Lovefoxx saw a quote that said Beyoncé Knowles was tired of being sexy, and she thought it was very retarded. It's like being tired of being rich. So she said, 'How about Cansei se Ser Sexy?' which is 'Tired of Being Sexy' in Portuguese. We put that on the flyer and everything happened and we have this name. Here we're more CSS because you guys can't say 'Cansei de Ser Sexy.'"
But CSS, who formed several years ago, never expected to actually be known anywhere. As Rezende explains, the group initially recorded music simply as a means of entertainment, drawing on a huge variety of influences including pop musicians like Christina Aguilera and Nelly Furtado. Their self-titled debut was two years in the making, recorded in the band's home studio, and eventually released in November of 2005 on a Brazilian record label after a few re-records in a real studio. The result is an art-damaged pop album mashing together "Rapture"-esque Deborah Harry disco with sardonic commentary on sex, art, music, and the transparency of it all. Singer Lovefoxxx cops quite the snotty 'tude when delivering such vitriolic nastiness as "I sell paintings to the men I eat/I have an art portfolio/And I only show where there's free alcohol" on "Art Bitch." And while some may hear a little Peaches in the cheering of "Suck, suck, suck my art hole," it's obvious that CSS prefer having fun to being objectionable.
"We didn't know we would release an album," Rezende says. "We were just recording for fun, really, not looking forward to anything. Now it's getting really exciting, and we're going to a bunch of countries. We get to go there and play for people. It's, like, all of a sudden, we have the best job in the world."
The group inked a deal with Sub Pop in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe after their manager sent the album to several American record labels. Sub Pop showed almost immediate interest, and according to Rezende, CSS didn't hesitate to accept their offer.
"We were really happy about it because Sub Pop means a lot to us," she says. "We just said 'yes' right away. Our influences, musically, when we were growing up were a bunch of the bands on Sub Pop. I used to listen a lot to Nirvana, Mudhoney, stuff like that. There's a bunch of bands now, too: Postal Service, the Shins."
It seems also fitting for CSS to venture to America not only because their music primarily is in English, but because it draws heavily on American pop culture and Hollywood glitz in its subject matter—as evidenced in their song titles, which include "Meeting Paris Hilton."
"It's just something we talk a lot about, and we just like to read about that stuff a lot, all the Hollywood stuff," Rezende says. "It's something that comes up naturally in our songs. Like if we spent a whole week talking about Paris Hilton, we end up making a song about her."
But have they ever actually met the lovely Hilton?
"No, we never did," Rezende laughs. "She was in Brazil once signing autographs on her fragrance in a shopping mall, and we wanted to go there and try to talk to her, but she didn't have anything scheduled. It never happened. Maybe someday. I don't know if she'd like the music, though."
CSS With Diplo and Bonde de Role. Neumo's, 925 E. Pike St., 206-709-9467, www.neumos.com. $12. All ages. 8 p.m. Sat., Aug. 5.