CSS’ Adriano Cintra
On the art of the remix
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Coming up from the underground club scene in São Paulo, Brazil, it was only when CSS started touring that Adriano Cintra began to tinker with remixes. Aside from producing, writing, and playing bass for the electro-dance quintet, Cintra has juiced up dozens of tracks into dance floor-ready jams for everyone from his fellow indie bands to Euro pop star Kylie Minogue. Playing hard on both fields has often been key to the infectious CSS charm—from its iPod touch commercial breakthrough (“Music Is My Hot Hot Sex”) to snubbing Hollywood divas (“Meeting Paris Hilton”), and lead singer Lovefoxxx’s brief, albeit ultra-hip, romance with Klaxons’ Simon Taylor.
Though the nu-rave scene, to which CSS lent its electro tropics, may have phased out before this decade, the band has already moved forward by announcing its third LP, La Liberación, with a new mantra: “Rip Shit!” The album’s due at the end of the summer, but it already promises an appearance by Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie, as well as a remix of a CSS song by Ratatat. Before stopping by Metro for the tail end of the band’s tour this Saturday, Cintra talked to The A.V. Club about some of the coolest—and sassiest—tracks he’s been approached to remix.
The A.V. Club: Have you always done remixes?
Adriano Cintra: I started remixing when the band started touring. I never paid too much attention to remixes before I started doing them. The first one I did was a track by Loney, Dear called “The City, The Airport.”
AVC: How are remixes usually created? Who approaches whom?
AC: I do the remixes by myself, and usually I am approached via our management.
AVC: Kylie Minogue’s “Wow” seems like it was a big deal to land.
AC: Well, I was pretty mesmerized they asked me to do that! One day my manager called and said I was going to remix a new track by Kylie Minogue. I was a bit scared actually; it is such a responsibility. I am a huge fan.
AVC: She must have loved it. There was even new version of the music video with CSS cred in the title.
AC: I heard she really liked it, but I never got to meet her! I would love to, though. I love her.
AVC: We heard that you’re remixing Designer Drugs and the Australian band Faker. What do you have planned?
AC: I’ve known Nathan [Hudson] from Faker for a while, and we always wanted to collaborate. He’s got such an incredible pop vibe; I love his voice. So now that they are releasing a new album, we finally managed to do something with the song “Dangerous.” My remix is very pop, dance floor-oriented.
AVC: Which remix was your favorite to do?
AC: My favorite remix is Sia’s “Buttons.” I love that song, and I am really honored that she plays my remix’s arrangement at her shows.
AVC: The music video for that song was so weird! What made you want to remix it?
AC: It felt so upbeat and spicy!
AVC: You’ve mentioned in interviews that you guys started CSS in order to play live shows. Do you play your remixes live?
AC: We never play them live, only when we are DJing. I like doing my versions of other people’s songs. I only work with the original vocals, and I remake all the rest. I only listen to the original, full version of the song I’ve remixed after I finish it.
AVC: Are you influenced by other remixers, from São Paulo or otherwise?
AC: I don’t listen too much to remixes. I always use my affective memory when I am remixing, all the songs I loved listening to when I was young, like Erasure, New Order, The Cure. I don’t really know much about the remix scene in São Paulo, since I started doing them after I moved from there! But I know The Twelves are amazing remixers.
AVC: CSS has done some covers too—The Breeders’ “Cannonball” was a great one. Being such a live-oriented band, is there a reason you guys have released more remixes than covers?
AC: Yeah, covers are almost dull. We did “Cannonball” ’cause it felt right to. We were playing it at a rehearsal, so we just recorded it live. We also did a cover of Grizzly Bear’s “Knife.” It is my favorite cover, since it is very different from the original.
AVC: That’s interesting since many of your remixes keep the original song in shape, with loads of CSS synths. It really comes through in your remix of The B-52s “Funplex.”
AC: It was an honor doing it. I love them to bits, and that song was already perfect for me. I just added some extra sassiness. This is the only remix I did where I used more than the vocals; I just had to use that guitar.
AVC: What can we expect to hear from Ratatat on La Liberación?
AC: Oh yeah! We all love Ratatat. We always wanted to have them remixing one of our songs. And so we approached them; they were super nice, and their remix turned out to be so amazing we decided to have it on the record. We even play their arrangement of the song—it’s called “Red Alert.”
AVC: Do you think you’ll remix a Ratatat song now? Is there a remix-culture etiquette?
AC: I don’t know. We never talked about it ...
AVC: Chromeo’s “Fancy Footwork” was already such a popular dance floor jam. Was it a lot of pressure to remix?
AC: I was offered it! I wouldn’t say no; I love that song. And since I knew it, it was sort of a challenge.
AVC: Do you think remixing songs is still a way to revive older tracks, like it was when remixes started gaining popularity at discothèques in the ’70s?
AC: I don’t think I make the songs better, just different. It’s my take on somebody else’s work. I also try to make the remixes as danceable as possible; I really think about the parties CSS used to throw in São Paulo back in the days. That’s my threshold.