Search The Line of Best Fit
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Lovefoxx 3
Nine Songs

As CSS gear up to return to the live stage, Lovefoxxx takes Orla Foster through the pivotal songs in her life, taking in smalltown malaise, life in the big city, heartbreak, sexual awakening and the all-encompassing joy of music.

17 May 2024, 08:00 | Words by Orla Foster

"How can you find new music again and still feel like you used to when you were seventeen?" Lovefoxxx wants to know. "Do you think it's even possible?"

She's talking about that stage in life when music stops hardwiring itself into your brain, when the intensity of being a superfan just fades away. When instead of playing a song and feeling like you need the lyrics tattooed onto your flesh, you settle for simply – listening to it? "You don't go searching for the band, you don't nerd out anymore!" she sighs.

Intensity, though, has always been part of the deal with Cansei de Ser Sexy. Starting out Djing at São Paulo parties in 2003, the Brazilians quickly evolved into a disco / electronic / post-punk outfit who nailed the zeitgeist of the so-called "indie sleaze" era, their live shows filled with balloons, glitter and wayward hair extensions.

But the Nine Songs Lovefoxxx, AKA Luísa Matsushita, has chosen are less about band nostalgia, and more a coming-of-age tale, with as much emphasis on solitary brooding as beer-splattered dancefloors. "I'm quite introspective," she concedes. "I like long and deep one-on-one conversations, not small talk."

As a child growing up in Campinas, a city she describes as "in-between", Matsushita always relied on music for escape. She loved singing along to the radio and relished any chance to get under the spotlight. "Even when I was a kid I liked going in front of people, I would kind of shine," she says. "There was always dance inside me."

She recalls a Spice Girls concert organised by classmates one Mother's Day. With no redheads around, Matsushita was cast reluctantly as Ginger (she wanted to be Sporty and do high kicks). But she took her showbiz duties seriously, from choreography, to applying her bandmates' make-up, and crucially, sourcing a Union Jack dress. "I was hanging out with these evangelical ladies who ran a sewing shop in my neighbourhood," she recalls, "and I went to them like, ‘I want THIS dress, with THIS flag! And the peace sign in the back!’”

At sixteen, Matsushita relocated to São Paulo – "the only place in Brazil that was big enough for me" – and things really kicked into gear. Working in fashion, flitting between jobs and parties, she was soon trading mix CDs with new friends and falling in love with female-fronted bands like Le Tigre and Luscious Jackson, besides refining a taste for hip-hop and spoken word concept albums.

From there, life with CSS soon followed, a period so all-consuming and intense that she needed a total reset afterwards, ditching her possessions to pursue an eco-friendly, off-grid existence on Brazil's southern coast. But more on that later.

Despite a vibrant musical career, it's only now, as a painter, that Matsushita finds herself truly approaching creative fulfilment. Last year she held a solo show at the Galeria Luisa Strina in São Paulo, which brought her abstract oil compositions to an audience quite removed from the glowstick-waving crowds of yesterday.

CSS Credit Gleeson Paulino
Gleeson Paulino

However, as the clock starts ticking down towards the CSS reunion tour, she sometimes feels pulled in different directions; dreading time apart from the canvas while also readying herself to get back into Lovefoxxx mode, sequins, catsuits and all.

Not that Lovefoxxx is an alter ego to hide behind, exactly. Matsushita seems like she'd be just as animated picking up groceries as charging around a stage. Her charismatic delivery always felt like the beating heart of the band, perfectly complementing all those idiosyncratic musical textures. Like the theremin squeal of "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above", which still catapults me straight back to the first time I heard it – night one of freshers week, in an anodyne little dorm room soon to be decorated with rings of red wine and DIY haircuts. Even that track involves "nerding out" over a band.

Typing up Matsushita's musical love letters also put me in mind of the 2007 CSS single "Music is My Hot Hot Sex", in which she describes music as her boyfriend, her girlfriend, her beach house and her king-size bed. That philosophy still rings true – her appetite for the perfect song is all-encompassing.

Though no longer a headphone-clad teenager, she comes across as someone who will always chase that high of falling in love with a song on first listen, while also feeling slightly troubled by the possibility that Spotify knows her taste as well as she does.

Lovefoxxx's Nine Songs cover a lot of ground, from smalltown malaise to life in the big city, heartbreak, despair, sexual awakening and the joy of finding a forgotten ‘80s track when it resurfaces years after its original release. There's also wisecracking, winking roleplay, and a healthy dose of saxophone solos to dance alone to in your bedroom.

“Voyage Voyage” by Desireless

LOVEFOXXX: There's this radio station in Brazil that plays music where no one gets insulted, you know? Their programming is the same today as it was when I was a kid. All that French and Italo disco really made an impression in Brazil, they'd always play "I Like Chopin" by Gazebo and "Voyage Voyage" by Desireless. I remember hearing this song on the radio and feeling so melancholic in my own little heart, in my very normcore nineties lifestyle.

Around this time, I used to go to the inline roller-skate rink, and oh my god, the music was so good. They would play this song and "What Is Love" by Haddaway. Even on the very norm roller-skate rink, you could get glimpses of your future, what it would be like going to shitty, shitty clubs.

The matinée was the BEST, you felt tough because you were drinking soda. It was definitely a great soundtrack for all these luxury fantasies I was living in my mind, as I was leading a very non-glamorous life.

BEST FIT: What was it like where you grew up?

It was not inspiring at all! Everything there that was shiny and beautiful was from inside my mind. Campinas is busy, but it doesn't have charm – it's just an in-between place, and I was very glad to leave.

When I was a teenager, I was making my own clothes and grinding my own make-up, doing plastic fake nails, and people would scream out their cars at me. They would go out of their way to make me feel bad about myself.

So the city sucked, but my parents were awesome. They would always say ‘We are raising you guys for the world, not for ourselves. Be independent.’ I used to ride all over town on my scooter wearing flip-flops, which was illegal. Then when I was sixteen, I moved to São Paulo. I remember feeling like, ‘Shit, if I knew it was going to be this hard, maybe I would have waited a bit longer in the cover of my mom's love.’ But I'm glad I came, because now there's no way back.

I looked up the lyrics and apparently they're all about travelling the world. Did that message seep through when you were little?

I have no idea! When I was a kid, I only spoke Portuguese so I just would sing whatever came to mind melodically. It's crazy if that's what the lyrics mean, because all I wanted when I was younger was to travel the world. We are so smart, right? Let's give it up for our emotional intelligence.

I feel when you are young and you are being touched by music, it's the best time to absorb it. The genetic material of each song and artist can really colour your mind. "Voyage Voyage" has this outcast energy, and I'm feeling every little bit of it. I just feel grateful that it was even played on the radio, because that doesn't really make sense, right?

“Boomin’ Granny” by Beastie Boys

LOVEFOXXX: I have a brother who is four years older than me, and we both used to do Aikido. When he was sixteen, the Sensei invited him to live in New York as an Uchi-deshi. It's where you can live at the dojo for free, but you have to practise five classes a day, clean the bathrooms and wake up at 5am. He came back home with some CDs and one of them was Beastie Boys Anthology For a while I was living off rice, beans and that record.

BEST FIT: Did your brother share his CDs, or did you have to steal them from him?

No, my brother is pretty generous and cool. He was excited that I was into it because we both used to love humour and comedy. When I was fourteen, our parents got cable TV for the first time, and I watched SNL with him, because my parents wouldn't allow me to watch novelas. They said they were a waste of time, and they were RIGHT.

So my brother showed me this song, "Boomin' Granny". It's kind of like an SNL sketch, and before I heard it, I didn't know that music could be so funny. They're talking about a romance with a very, very old granny at the supermarket line, with her coupons, and how fine she is. I still know how to sing this song by heart, it's so stupid! I kind of learned how to speak English by watching Seinfeld and singing the lyrics of the Beastie Boys.

I wanted to rap too, so maybe if I can do anything near rapping, it's because of those CDs. But I also just loved their silliness. There's a lot of silliness from CSS, and I think it's because I saw early on in life that it was possible. And I took it with me!

“Naked Eye” by Lucious Jackson

LOVEFOXXX: This song is from when I moved to São Paulo. I was living in a house with five other girls, and one of them was an architect and DJ whose name was Lu Riot because she loved riot grrrl bands. She would burn me CDs and introduce me to songs by Bratmobile, Le Tigre, Bikini Kill, L7 and Luscious Jackson.

I didn't think Luscious Jackson really fitted with the other bands. The whole record for me was an experience, because I loved how the singer, Jill, has a voice in a lower register, this smooth kind of voice that was very new to me.

Most of the time when I'm listening to songs, especially when I didn't know English that well, I turn off the lyrics and just listen to the melody, so I don't really know what "Naked Eye" was about. But some verses like "wearing nothing is divine, naked is a state of mind" – I don't know, I remember understanding these verses and thinking it was cool. It motivated me to be free.

BEST FIT: Were you making any music yourself at this point?

I was working in fashion, no band yet. I was sixteen and so excited about living in a big city. I was very serious, just absorbing my new life – I loved having two jobs and still going to school. At the weekends I would go to my parents' and eat ice cream and come back bloated.

There's a lot of talk now about the "indie sleaze" era – painting the early 2000s as a hedonistic, wild, fun time. Is that how you remember those years?

Yes, when the band started in 2003, we also would DJ our own party on Thursday nights. But CSS took off really fast. The second show we ever played, we were on the cover of the culture section of the biggest newspaper in Brazil. I'm very thankful that I saw bands and went out to shitty clubs so much before the band started, because once it became a job, I changed my relationship with the nightlife. Now I only like seated shows.

Living in such a big city, were you able to see a lot of the bands you loved live?

You know, Iggy Pop played São Paulo so many times. The first time I saw him I was like ‘Yeah! All you need is a pair of jeans and your body!’ But when I saw Liars, my mind was blown for years. Seriously, I came back home, and I was so disturbed by the show that I slept on the floor. I went crazy.

I was so moved by their presence and their sound, it was really different to me. There was dried blood on Angus' guitar and I thought that was badass! I was like, ‘I cannot! I need to sleep on the floor to be able to digest this experience! With no pillow!’

“Phanta” by Le Tigre

LOVEFOXXX: I know exactly where I was when I first heard Le Tigre. I was interning at the fashion week because I'd sent a portfolio to the owner and told him I wanted to be a designer. And he said ‘Thank you very much but you're too young, I cannot give you this, but I can give you an internship.’

So I went there and was super outspoken because I was living my dream, and at the dress rehearsals one of the designers used "Deceptacon". I was like, ‘Is this song from now? Is it from the ‘80s? Is it from the future? What instruments are these, how can you make a sound like this?’

But the reason I chose "Phanta" was because I heard "Deceptacon" so many times since then that it doesn't pinpoint a moment in my life the same way that "Phanta" does. "Phanta" has the same kind of power and energy of "Deceptacon", and I think it's a bit of an underrated song, it's so good.

I'm really impressed by the texture of this whole album. It gets to you as if you were in the room where it was being recorded. It doesn't sound like a band in an arena or playing on a stage, it seems like girls playing in a room and you're just there with them, listening to it. It feels so many times bigger than a static arena of glossy sound.

BEST FIT: Do you like the sci-fi lyrics?

Jesus, I have no idea what Kathleen's singing about. BUT I LOVE IT. It is very serious to me!

“And All That Could Have Been” by Nine Inch Nails

LOVEFOXXX: I'm so thankful for getting into Nine Inch Nails, but I'm now realising it's a band for teenagers. When I was a virgin, listening to the line "I want to fuck you like an animal" I was like ‘Yesssss!’ It's the kind of thing that would only impact a teenager, and it really impacted me.

I think I first got into them because I was selling my Hanson CDs. At thirteen, I had such a craze for Hanson, ‘Taylor, you're the person for me! Are you a girl or a boy? I don't know, but I love you!’ Politically, they aged like milk, but what do you expect? No one was expecting them to save the world.

Anyway, when I brought my Hanson CDs to trade in, I got talking to the guy at the store, who also sold me The Strokes, and he told me I needed to listen to this Nine Inch Nails record. It was a double album, and since I was poor, I would really milk it. I knew all the songs on both CDs, and I really wanted to love all of them. But I tried to not listen to this song too much.

BEST FIT: So even though you loved the song, you rationed playing it?

Yes, because I wanted to hear the impact of the song every time. And I remember that I had a crush, of course. At seventeen, I was living an unrequited love with a guy I met, and this was our song. I mean, he didn't know about it! I was super in love with him, but I couldn't deal with it because he was only booty calling me.

The crazy thing is, twenty years later I am in a relationship with the guy! I DM'd him on Instagram in 2022 and now he's the drummer of CSS. We also made a band called TUM and all the songs are about understanding our story, because I was really hurt. We made a song together called “Any Resemblance of It" and I think it's the best I've ever written. So you know? It's all that could have been!

I'm on the other side of this song now, but it's still so beautiful. I think it's amazing how the quiet parts are so loud, and the loud parts are so quiet. It's immense, and I think the vulnerability in Trent's voice resonates so much with the emo teenage heart.

I was listening to this playlist earlier today, and when I got to Nine Inch Nails, I almost wanted to cry because I remembered those hurt feelings so well.

“Sex (I’m a)” by Lovage, ft. Mike Patton, Jennifer Charles, Nathaniel Merriweather

LOVEFOXXX: When I was sixteen with two jobs, I was always hanging out with people who were older than me. I was friends with a stylist, and we were just going around town during the day, I don't know, maybe to a supermarket, and she played me this. I was a horny teenager and I. Lost. My. Mind.

After that I was always walking on the street and listening to this record, I was cleaning my house and listening to this record, it was this record all the time, for many years. I thought it was very grown-up of me. There's so many moanings! But I needed it to make sense of what was in my mind, I guess.

Jennifer Charles, the female voice, really impacted me. How is a voice like hers possible, and this interpretation? I don't care much about Mike Patton, but I think the yin and yang of their energies is great. I actually noticed the lyrics this time: the man going "I'm a man" and she's like "I'm this, I'm that". That's the female experience! We are so multi-universal and dimensional, you know. I just thought it was super sexy.

They explain in the beginning of the album that "lovage" is an aphrodisiac. And I remember when I broke up with a boyfriend while I was in Japan, I wanted to feel like myself, so I put on this album, and it brought me back to when I was eighteen years old. So I decided I was going to get a tattoo of whatever came up when I Googled "lovage", and it was a plant.

I can't place this album with any music scene or anything, it was like an island in my mind. A sex island in my mind. It's one of those records where one song is finishing and I can hear the next one coming. I imagine scenarios around the train and the bed and the flowers and the candles – very kitsch.

Because I was really horny when I was a teenager, I was thinking about sex all the time. Even when I closed my eyes, I was thinking about sex, it was kind of disturbing, you know. And this album only made it worse!

“The Devil’s Dancers” by Oppenheimer Analysis

LOVEFOXXX: So we just jumped two decades of my life. When I first heard Oppenheimer Analysis, I wished I could be reborn with the singer's voice. It's so cool, so removed. I thought it was a woman's voice because it's kind of genderless, but it's a man.

I love the fact that the singer is now this security expert on nuclear and biological weapons, it's just so amazing! When we become adults, I guess we are more enthusiastic about the band's history rather than how the music impacts us, because we are not that porous anymore. I couldn't believe he met the other guy, Martin, at a science fiction fair. It's that thing again where the weird kids always bind together. It's a reality. You will always end up where you need to be.

BEST FIT: Did this track fall into obscurity for a while?

Yes, it did. They only have one album, New Mexico, but it's great. The lyrics are so sincere. There was a reissue in 2005. I think by the time they were rediscovered the singer was already working in nuclear security.

Are you someone who enjoys going into record shops and stumbling on forgotten releases?

I do, but sadly the truth is I discover a lot of music nowadays through Spotify. I don't like collecting stuff, I'd rather have a functioning household, you know? I found this song on my Discovery Weekly, but at least my Discovery Weekly is well-trained.

“Echo Beach” by Martha and the Muffins

BEST FIT: Apparently Mark Gane wrote this song while employed to check wallpaper for faults. Did you ever secretly write songs at work? Did you even have a job boring enough for that?

LOVEFOXXX: It's funny, because I wrote "Let's Make Love" while I was on my day job doing prints. I liked my boss, but I didn't like the rigidity of going somewhere every day, working all day on the computer, making prints for t-shirts and patterns for rows of fabrics. We had to copy some Von Dutch designs, and I thought that didn't make any sense. Like, ‘I have a full mind right here right now, why can't I make my own designs?!’

I'm really glad that nowadays I'm a painter represented by a gallery, and I can just do the most exuberant and stunning thing that comes into my mind. I don't have to copy Von Dutch anymore.

What was going on in your life when you discovered this song?

It was 2017 and I had sold everything I owned in São Paulo to move to a small beach town in south Brazil; so small it didn't even have traffic lights. I wanted to build a life there, to live off the land. I did humanure, I did water harvesting and heirloom seeds, multiplication and adaptation. I learned to surf.

Was it all you imagined?

What was that Jenny Holzer phrase – ‘Protect me from what I want’? The thing that we always need is other people, and I got depressed because I had no community in Garopaba. It was a really beautiful destination town, but the people SUCKED. It was very heteronormative. So doomy and Bolsonaro. I was thirty-something and I didn't have the audacity I had when I was sixteen. I wanted to get along, but I didn't fit in. It was my rock bottom.

Oh my god, the music was so bad. There were bars always playing covers of reggae, and in the summer the town would get really crowded. But once I found "Echo Beach", it made me happy for many, many, many years while I was there. I think of it as a surf song for who I am. Because I decided if I'm going to do surf living, this is the soundtrack that's going to accompany my surf life when I'm surfing at 5am. This is my vibe.

I love dancing to "Echo Beach". I used to dance so much to this, and when the saxophone comes in, it just makes me so happy. I danced, I danced, I still dance to this song a lot. But I was the only one listening to it in Garopaba.

“Inside Out” by Martin Dupont

LOVEFOXXX: If you ever think about me and say, ‘I wonder what Luísa is doing?’ there's a good chance I'll be dancing to this song. I think this song is the closest to that feeling I used to get when discovering a band. I don't really know any more what's going on musically, or what the groundbreaking stuff is. When I heard this, I thought it was new, which maybe says a lot about me?

They're another band I found through my Discovery, but I don't know how I missed them all these years. How come we don't all know about Martin Dupont?

BEST FIT: How does "Inside Out" make you feel?

When the saxophone comes in, it feels like when you're in a rollercoaster and the cars are going down. Like a freefall. Anyway, there's a video of the band playing in L.A. and after the sax player finishes her solo, she smiles like, ‘I did it!’ and it's just so sweet.

With this kind of artist, if you go to their YouTube, it's like a little slit in the internet. It's all positive comments, everyone has good energy and is happy to see them performing again. I saw there was a revival tour maybe last year. I would love to see them, because it wouldn't be a massive show like Lollapalooza São Paulo, it would just be a tiny venue.

Speaking of reunions, are you looking forward to the CSS tour?

Yes, and I hope that people want to see us. It's definitely a reunion show, not a comeback. I think it's going to be our last tour because it's so much work to put things together, especially now I'm in a studio routine that I love.

In CSS I was a closeted painter and that hurt me. I wrote a song called "Air Painter" because I wasn't painting, it was just this wish inside me. So now that I'm a painter, my life has completely changed, and I don't think we'll tour again because all of our lives became bigger than CSS.

But I'm very excited to be near the girls again. It's quite difficult to talk about, quite complex, because if you have an open-end, you don't know if it's going to be the last time.

I'm mostly excited to see how it will be to tour now that we are older, to see how honest we can be? I don't want to get into a mode of Lovefoxxx from seventeen years ago, I want to be honest to myself. No one at this age can drink Jägermeister anymore.

Will chairs be provided?

NOOOOO! But I know that people in England get very excited, you have a different kind of genetics going on. It's going to be beautiful to be back in England, you always supported us so much. People there are really into having a wild time and I've never seen anything like it. Actually, I thought Martin Dupont would be an English band, but they're French, which surprised me.

Finally, is there anything about "Inside Out" that makes you want to lie on the floor with no pillow?

I just love the line "I'd rather live my life inside out". That's so beautiful! It's the synthesis of a life, of being an artist, I guess. I'd rather live my life inside out!

CSS’s “It’s Been A Number Of Years” tour comes to the UK in June

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