BREAKING OUT: BONDE DO ROLE
Meet the Courtney Love of Brazilian baile funk.
Marina Vello, a vision in bright yellow eye shadow and messy black bangs, is shouting something in Portuguese, stretching a metallic-blue Lycra-stirruped leg over the monitor at the edge of the stage at the Brooklyn club Studio B. Wrapping the mic chord around her neck and left wrist, she finds her footing and reaches her right hand out into the crowd, which is going appropriately batshit. She can’t seem to get close enough, so she jumps right in, the dislocated arm from an ill-advised stage dive a few months back a nonfactor. Pretty rock-star, considering Bonde Do Role aren’t really a rock band.
Though her antics suggest her idol Courtney Love, the 22-year-old MC for this Brazilian trio (pronounced bon-juh doh ho-lay and named for their favorite hometown snack shop) actually trades in a mutant strain of baile funk—a whiplash-inducing mix of Miami bass, samba drums, Alice in Chains riffs, and lascivious rapping that originally hails from the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro. Hours before this typically racous show, Vello recalls her rock’n’roll roots: “I sold my hair to buy my first guitar. Two-hundred dollars!”
Turns out she wouldn’t need the ax—by 2005, she’d hooked up with beatmaker/MC Pedro D’Eyrot, 23, and DJ/producer Rodrigo Gorky, 26, in their hometown of Curitiba to record the genre-hopping tracks that caught the attention of globe-trotting DJ Diplo, who released their first EP on his Mad Decent label. Their debut full-length … With Lasers, is out now on Domino. “In Brazil we have this joke that everything with the addition of lasers is better,” Vello explains, sort of. “Like, a bottle of water with lasers: so much better.”
As Bonde Do Role prepare to take their Brazilian mishmash worldwide, many pratfalls await. Homesickness, Exhaustion. Unagi. “In November 2005, Pedro had sushi and went to the hospital and had his appendix out. In November 2006, Gorky had sushi and went to the hospital and had his appendix out,” says Vello. “I don’t eat Japanese food, but if I do try it, I have to be sure it’s not in November.
Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera’s three kids—ages three, five and eight—sing on “Geleia de Amendoim” (“Peanut Butter and Jelly”), the B-side to third single, “Gasolina.”
Gorky’s mom does water aerobics to … With Lasers. “She took the CD to the teacher and said, ‘Oh, can you please play my son’s band?’ “