CSS – short for Cansei de Ser Sexy, a Portuguese translation of a ridiculous quote from Beyoncé stating that she was “tired of being sexy” – are currently mid-tour in the US for their brand spanking new fourth album, the delightfully eccentric and energetic Planta.
Written and recorded in – and indeed inspired by – the city of Los Angeles, Planta was produced by TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek and features 11 gleaming songs about love, lust, sex, and “teenage tiger cats.”
This being their first album recorded outside their native Brazil, I ask Ana Rezende – one quarter of the São Paulo electro-pop quartet – if perhaps the tone of the album was affected by their new surroundings. “I think so!” she says. “But we are Brazilian, and we filter everything through our Brazilian brains. But LA is a great place to get inspired. A lot of people go there to record stuff, and work with art in general, so yeah – I think it definitely had an impact.”
Planta’s first single ‘Hangover’ was co-written by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and is a perfect exemplification of the anything-goes sound that CSS have been harnessing for the last decade. Exhibiting traces of pop, punk, reggae, dub and even mariachi, CSS’s work is all over the musical map. Rezende chuckles when asked how a song of theirs is born.
“The biggest thing, I think, is that we have a lot of freedom, and we never feel like we have to sit down and write,” she explains cheerfully. “We try to sit down to understand what we’re doing and how we are thinking, but we never think about, like, ‘Let’s do a record like this or like that’. It’s like, we just listen to an amazing reggaeton song, and we’re like, ‘Let’s do a reggaeton song!’ And then we try to do it, it doesn’t become a reggaeton song, it becomes whatever we do that we think is reggaeton!
“A lot of songs [in which] we’re thinking of something it actually comes out differently than we’d originally thought. We’re not really trained musicians and we don’t conceptualise the band, what style we are or whatever; and also the music we’re making gives us the freedom to play or write anything we want!”
CSS originally started out as a joke nearly a decade ago when these São Paulo art students thought it would be fun to wreak some musical havoc. Their 2006 self-titled debut, however, was anything but a joke, featuring the now-classic singles Music is My Hot Hot Sex, Meeting Paris Hilton, and Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above. Even today, this record retains its vitality and charm. From there, their sound has matured (they have, after all, learned how to play their instruments)…but their songs are as carefree, chaotic, and endearingly humourous as ever.
Rezende ponders for a moment when asked how she feels they’ve grown since their inception. “Oh, a lot!” she exclaims. “I think when we started we were like 20, 21 years old; and now we’re all 30, 31! And I think [ten years] is a lot of time no matter what you’re doing. Also, it just becomes way easier to deal with whatever. Interaction becomes a really natural thing for us, so it’s like – it feels really nice, because it’s a ‘meant to be’ kind of thing!”
BY THOMAS BAILEY
CSS tour as part of Harvest Festival later this year, with the Sydney leg come November 16 – tickets are on sale July 12. ‘Planta’ is out now through Stop/Start.