Two years ago, Marina Vello was an average Brazilian teenager. She worked two jobs to bring in money for herself and her family, and she spent her free time at a café in her hometown of Curitiba, goofing off with her best friends.
These days, most of her time is still spent goofing off with those same friends – except now, they get paid to do it on stages around the world while performing in front of huge crowds of screaming fans. Vello, along with fellow emcee Pedro D’Eyrot and disc jockey Rodrigo Gorky, make up Bonde Do Rolê (pronounced Bon-gee Dough Her-lay), a funk group with an amazingly unique sound and the energy of a toddler hyped up on Pixie Sticks.
Their songs are about partying, sex, secret agents and anything else that strikes their fancy, and it’s all sung in a Portuguese dialect called Pajuba that originated in the gay district of Brazil. Even most Brazilians can’t completely decipher exactly what Bonde is singing about, but it doesn’t matter. The vibe and energy of their stage performances completely makes up for it, along with the crazy beats and guitar riffs provided by Gorky. In addition to Gorky’s DJing, D’Eyrot and Vello pull vocal influence from nearly every
corner of the musical world. One can immediately hear the influence of rock, punk and rap.
Vello’s powerful, energetic voice channels the vocals of some of her favorite riot bands, including Hole, Sleater-Kinney and L7. Though it sounds like it would never work, somehow this genre-bending trio manages to meld their influences together to create the perfect party music – something that’s even more obvious
when they’re performing live. Bonde has even sustained an injury or two having fun at their shows.
“We were playing at a show [the 2006 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago], and I had three beers before lunch and it f—ed me up,” Vello said. “When I came back, I tried to stage dive and I fell pretty bad.”
Vello ended up in the hospital that day with a broken arm, but she laughs about it now and has even watched a video of the incident on YouTube.
“The thing is, we’re not just wanting people to have fun at our show, but we want to … have fun at our own show, too,” Vello said of their performances. According to their page on their label’s Web site, the band was never meant to be a serious thing – it was all just for fun. In 2006, however, international producer Diplo caught a sampling of their music on the band’s MySpace page and knew that he’d found something special.
From there, it was all downhill. Diplo pushed the band to sign to his fledgling cords took on the band. Nowadays, the band can be heard in international ad campaigns, television shows and even video games. Electronic Arts’ 2008 release of the widely popular soccer game FIFA will feature tracks by Bonde. They can also be heard right here in Philadelphia – the band will be playing at Johnny Brenda’s on Sept. 13. Vello said the band loves Philadelphia,
and she expects the show to be “one of the best shows on the tour.”
Despite all the fame and craziness, Vello says she has managed to stay down-to-earth and remembers to cherish the things in life that really matter, like family.
“I’m really, really close to my mom and my sister and my grandmother, so it’s tough [not seeing them],” she said. “But they understand that what I’m doing
is something that I really wanted.” And though she won’t get the chance to be back in Brazil with her biological family until December, she still has a sense of family on the road – her bandmates.
“It’s a really good relationship,” Vello says of Gorky and D’Eyrot. “We became like brothers and sisters. I love the boys.”
For more of the band, check out their album, With Lazers, or look them up on MySpace at www.myspace.com/bondedorole.
Chrissy Reese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.