Party Week: M meets CSS

This week M's going all festive, with a series of interviews and features that capture the party vibe at home and abroad. First up, we speak to Brazilian party-starters CSS.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 12 Dec 2011
  • min read
This week M's going all festive, with a series of interviews and features that capture the party vibe at home and abroad. We'll be speaking to some of nu disco's leading lights and turning to Latin America's party state Brazil to find out more about its most famous musical exports. We'll also be running a competition later this week, giving one lucky reader the chance to bag the perfect party prize.

First up, we speak to infamous party-starters CSS, who hail from São Paulo, Brazil, but are signed to British indie label V2 and have recently joined PRS for Music. Their eclectic hybrid of electronic sounds and traditional guitar riffs has earned them critical acclaim all over the world, and they've built up a reputation for crazy live shows.

Guitarist and drummer Luiza Sá talks to M about the making of their new album  La Liberación, and all the UK bands that soundtracked her teenage years.

Brazil has such a rich musical history. Why do you think the songwriting tradition runs so deep in the country?
I don't know, I think Brazil is probably one of the most complex countries ever because it mixes up so many different cultures, so music is something that brings people together. It is a musical country from top to bottom.

How has local music influenced your sound, if at all?
You mean like local folk music? I think maybe but it's obvious that we are very influenced by pop and rock 'n' roll. There are some flavors in some songs that could be more local, but the structure of the songs are more like pop songs. But sure, there are elements of reggae or more local music from different parts of the world.

How has music from the UK made its mark on your hometown of São Paulo?
Well, I'm speaking from my point of view and I have to say it was a very small scene but it was there. We loved Brit pop. There were parties playing Pulp, Suede, Blur and stuff like that all the time, but it was still fairly niche and did not define my hometown at all. But then there's the UK music that influenced everyone; The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

How has UK music affected your sound?
The way it has affected the world, I think; mostly in the rock-pop scene. Maybe UK didn't invent the genre but it definitely redefined it.

You have just released your third album La Liberación, after Donkey went supersonic. Did you feel pressure when writing these new songs because of your past success?
I think there is some internal pressure to do something good, worthwhile, not to make the most successful thing ever. We never had management or the label pressuring us, it was always about doing our best. But it turned out to be a very positive thing, and if we're happy with it, that's really what counts. I mean, it's great if everyone loves it too but if we love it that's the main thing! The cool thing was that we actually had time to do La Liberación.

Has the way you make music changed since your first album? If so, how?
Of course. I think for one, we learned things musically and personally. Also, it's a totally different time in our life now so it had to be different, we had to try new things. We create in a random way and I guess we are getting better at it, going places we wouldn't go before.

Did you work with anyone else on the new album?
Yeah, we did collaborations and exchanges. We had Ratatat rearranging a song, Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream doing vocals for a song, Cody from the band SSION also doing vocals for another song and Mike Garson playing a fabulous piano part on Partners in Crime.

You were on a manic touring schedule with some really huge acts when Donkey came out. What was that like?
I guess the biggest thing was touring with Gwen Stefani, but that was before Donkey came out. We loved loved loved that tour! We love Gwen and everyone that worked on that tour; we were treated so well and it felt great to see that someone so big can also be amazing.

What was it like to return to São Paulo after all of that?
It was good. I love São Paulo, we all lived in different parts of the world for a while, but São Paulo is a very cool, crazy city. It's the place we grew up so even if it felt weird for a second, it's just very familiar and it will always be there.

You’ve got a reputation around the world for being total party-starters, can we expect the same when you tour again later this year? What do you have planned?
I don't know if you can expect anything, I prefer to not expect and then be surprised! Hahahaha! Hopefully the shows will always feel like a big party and if that depends on us it will for sure.

La Liberación is out now through V2. Watch the video for lead single Hits Me Like a Rock below.