Get down with Gaby Amarantos, the reigning queen of technobrega, “Beyonce of Pará,” and hypercolor aficionado behind one of Rolling Stone’s most anticipated albums of 2012.
The album is called Treme, she’s launching it after Carnaval in February, and Xirley is the first hit single off the album:
Tecnobrega, literally “tacky techno,” is a dizzying mash-up of stripped down pop hits, electronic beats, hipster hyperbole and glitter boots that is turning digital piracy into a viable business model by working with street vendors – who keep all the profits of the bootleg CD sales – to promote ticket sales to local tecnobrega mega-parties.
Amarantos plays off the piracy theme in her lyrics eu vou samplear eu vou te roubar (“I’m going to sample you, I’m going to rob you”), the street vendor CDs at 0:49, the magic memory stick necklace she put son at 1:40, and when the video cuts at 3:22 to this anti-piracy message:
The practice of piracy is a sin, in accordance with the word of God and the violation of any of his laws will result in the sanctions provided in the law 9.610 of the penal code. Piracy is a crime and a sin. Don’t violate the law of GOD.
Amarantos started her singing career in the church on the outskirts of Belem, the capital city of Pará, a state in the north of Brazil near the Amazons and the birthplace of tecnobrega, until she was kicked out for being too provocative…. or popular. She tells Brazilian mag MixBrasil:
I sang at mass and I was already forming a fan base, people who would wanted to come to mass to see me sing. When mass ended there was a little plaza where people would take the instruments and I’d keep playing, it turned into a party. I was already playing some brega music, which made the people dance. But this wasn’t looked upon favorably at the time, so they came to me and said that I was very animated, very cutting edge, but they thought it would be better for me to distance myself from the church group.
She tells those uncomfortable with her visual style, “Here there are not basic tee-shirts, my love, no jeans, no Converse All-Stars. Here it’s always high heels, glitter and glamour.”
Amarantos says “brega” isn’t a mark of bad taste, it’s a lifestyle:
What we’re doing is showing Brazil a new way of being brega, a way that is cool, modern, fun and free. Get to the party, get on the table, grab a bucket of beer and throw yourself at the vibrations of the sound system – it’s another universe.
She cites Lady Gaga as an inspiration but tells Folha magazine, “Everyone applauds Lady Gaga. But in Pará, people have been descending from flying saucers for a long time.”
Download some Gaby Amarantos songs and the beat to make your own version of “Xirley.”
Follow @GabyAmarantos on Twitter.