We all think we know Brazilian music, don’t we? Jobim, Joao Gilberto, even Os Mutantes and Tom Zé. They are classic artists, revered in all hemispheres. But for a generation now, a new rock branch has been grafting itself onto that country’s musical tree. It is a movement that takes the sensual swagger of the old guard and adds a new edge, inspired by indie rock and electronic pop. You could call it indie rock in flip-flops.
Sexy Fi – formerly known as Nancy – is making a case for itself as the newest group to take the reins of this growing movement. Equal parts alternative rock, bluesy-pop and Brazilian soul, their gorgeous new Nunca Te Vi De Boa (Far Out Recordings) is another strong step to push Brazil’s young rockers onto the world stage.
From the melancholic album opener “Pequeno Dicionario das Ruas” to the horn-infused swank of “Loro on Loro” and the a cappella beauty and longing of “Togetherness,” the songs glide between moments of haunting modern pop to those of discordant angst. Additionally featuring the stand-out track “Keep Cooler” (with a bonus remix by the UK’s Born Ruffians), the album – sung in both Portuguese and English – is a remarkable sophomore effort that further helps define South America’s indie rock generation.
The journey of Sexy Fi is a tale of musical connection formed in Brazil’s capital city of Brasília over a decade ago. A friendship between vocalist Camila Zamith and guitarist / producer Praxis would go on to span the Atlantic, with Camila relocating to London and Praxis taking up residence in Rio de Janeiro, collaborating across the digital expanse. The result was the duo’s first album Chora Matisse, released in 2009 under the group name Nancy. On the back of these initial efforts, a full band was formed, which rocked live shows at festivals across Brazil, culminating in several performances at the 2009 SXSW Conference in Austin, TX.
In 2011, the five-piece group changed its name from Nancy to Sexy Fi, and started working on a new batch of songs. Sexy Fi’s new release, Nunca Te Vi De Boa, is a product of two summers in the Southern and Northern Hemispheres. Recorded and mixed by John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea & Cake), the album took the band from Brasília to Chicago – with a pit-stop in Panama City to retrieve a lost bass – in July 2011, for three weeks of sessions at McEntire’s Soma Electronic Music Studios.
The lineup on Nunca Te Vi De Boa is: Camila Zamith (vocals), Praxis (guitar), Ivan Bicudo (guitar and keyboards), Diogo Saraiva (bass), and Marlon Tugdual (drums).
The effort resulted in a collection of ten new songs – with the addition of two mixes of a re-recorded Nancy gem, “Keep Cooler” – that defy easy classification, combining the energy of indie rock and the openness of Brazilian music, elegantly stitched together by the seductive voice of Zamith.