BRAZIL OR BUST 


;Bonde do Role is guilty of ;committing at least one subversive act in music. The trio from Curitiba, Brazil, did the unimaginable when they took funk carioca, an urban music native to Rio's hillside favelas, out of the slums.

;;"In Brazil if you're not from the favela, you can't sing funk carioca; it's something from the ghetto; you're not supposed to do this," explains Rodrigo Gorky, Bonde do Role's DJ, on the phone from Brazil. "It's like when Vanilla Ice tried to sing hip-hop. But here it's like really strong."

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;By sampling retro American pop and heavy metal into an already heady mix of pummeling Miami-bass beats and samba drum loops, Bonde do Role came up with a sonic pastiche influenced by funk carioca, but altogether different. Additionally, they substituted funk carioca's sexually vulgar lyrics with their own tongue-in-cheek raunchiness.

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;"If they were talking about sex, we were like, let's talk about how to make sex, you have sex with food, or they talk about transvestites, let's talk about a transvestite who's actually James Bond, stupid things like that," Gorky says.

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In the process, and adding insult to injury, Bonde do Role made funk carioca palatable to a niche of first-world consumers who are just as detached from the mainstream as the band is from the gritty realities of favela life. It was a meeting of the minds in which renowned DJ Diplo played the facilitator.

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;"When he heard us he was like, this is completely different from everything I've been DJ'ing from baile funk tracks," Gorky recounts. "That's how he discovered … oh, but they're not from Rio."

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;Bonde do Role became the first band signed to Diplo's Mad Decent imprint. Three months later the band embarked on a European tour. On a small U.S. tour last summer, they shared the stage with Diplo and electro-rock dance band CSS, also from Brazil. Like CSS, BDR won over U.S. listeners with their wild onstage antics and deconstructed sound. Almost overnight the band became funk carioca's ambassadors.

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; Bonde do Role members Rodrigo Gorky, Pedro D'eyrot, and Marina Ribatski all hail from southern Brazil, an area much different from the rest of the country.

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;"Here in Curitiba there are mostly Polish families who came to Brazil," says Gorky, "so it's very European and it's really cold as well. Rio is a completely different world for us."

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;Since the late '80s, funk carioca has been the indisputable party soundtrack to getting down in the favela. Over the years performers such as DJ Marlboro, Edu K and MC Marcinho have been at the forefront of the notorious nightlong bailes, or funk balls, that attract throngs of dispossessed fans whose lives are as raw as the music's crude lyrics. Yet with the exception of isolated downloads and compilations, such as the ones Diplo is famous for circulating, none of the homegrown artists glorified by favela youth have really broken out to represent internationally. At least not in the way that Bonde do Role has transcended Brazilian ghetto culture.

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;Like most bands, Bonde do Role started out on a lark. "The first songs were all like, oh we're just like doing this for fun, this is just a joke," Gorky recounts.

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;"So we started to do some DJ battles between rock and electronic music and people started to like it," Gorky says. "Me and Pedro did a song, just to make fun of the rock guys, and that was like one of the first things we did as Bonde do Role."

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;The casual gambit paid off. The rowdy art-schoolers from the tranquil burg of Curitiba have gotten nothing but love from American and European indie fans. The trio's cross of avant-garde sensibility and affinity for mindless booty music hit a chord and found just the right outlet for music that defies labels, making Bonde do Role an unlikely purveyor of a quintessentially carioca sound.

; music@orlandoweekly.com

More by Lissette Corsa

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