Northeast Brazil punks talk fighting patriarchy and violence amidst their country's political turmoil
Photo by Nathi Vilela
RÄIVÄ is feminist crust band from the Brazilian city of Maceió, in the country’s northeastern state of Alagoas. This January they released their debut EP, Não precisamos da sua aprovação (We don’t need your approval), with eight fast, short and powerful tracks about empowerment, sexism and dismantling the patriarchy.
The EP couldn’t have come at a more fitting time. Brazil has the fifth highest rate of femicide in the world and is currently suffering a right wing parliamentary coup, in which the now impeached female president was the target of repeated misogynist attacks. Like in the US and Europe, Brazil is experiencing the rise of conservative politicians throughout the country. Just this month, for example, our new president Michel Temer, made an overtly sexist speech on International Women’s Day where he praised women for “taking care of homes, nurturing families, and checking prices at supermarkets.”
I spoke with RÄIVÄ vocalist Hew Barreto about releasing a politically charged record during this troubled time in our country, the Brazilian punk scene, and the band’s home city of Maceió.
DANIEL MOURA: Who is RÄIVÄ and how the band started? How did you meet?
HEW BARRETO: RÄIVÄ is me on vocals, Julie on guitar, Fralda on bass and Gabi on drums. Gabi lives in Piracicaba, São Paulo, right now, so our friend Buzugo is currently helping us with the drums in that period, so nothing stops.
I met Gabi at college, she enjoyed this kind of music, she played music, so we had this nice connection. We were agonized about what was happening politically, with the many reports, the many masks falling down, so in the end of 2014 we felt the need to spit out everything that was in our throats and decided to make this project of heavy and political music that could help us some way in our daily struggles.
We didn’t know any girls who played the drums, so that’s when Gabi just decided to learn the instrument. We then called Fralda who already played in another band, and we met Julie, who plays in Oldscratch. The group combination felt great.
Are you all in other projects?
I did vocals in Importa?, Julie plays in Oldscratch with Gabi that is now the vocal from Shit Heroes (SP), Fralda plays percussion in Mangue Negro.
The band recently shared on Facebook the song Cansadas de Ódio by Brazilian punk band Infect, which contains the line ‘parece que a raiva é a solução’ (it looks like anger is the solution). Is this line the origin of the band’s name? Which other Brazilian bands had an influence on RÄIVÄ? Could you name some groups from Alagoas highlighting nowadays?
The name is not from that exactly. We wanted a strong name, that could express our dissatisfaction, lack of patience with sexism and violence that surround us every day, and raiva (anger) is a sentiment all of us share.
There are so many important Brazilian bands we are influenced by: Triste Fim de Rosilene, Infect, Bulimia, Abuso Sonoro, Anti-Corpos, Discarga, Facada. And then our hometown fellows that are active and making it happen all the time: Misantropia, Oldscratch, Necro, Morcegos, Baztian, C.I.A., Arielly…
Internationally, Disrupt, BESTA, War Cry, Sin Dios, Bikini Kill, Pussy Riot, The Casualties, Las Otras.
How was the process of composing, recording and releasing the debut EP?
The idea came up when we could play a set as a band and we realized it was important to record those first songs. We also had to record quickly because Gabi was moving to Piracicaba. It was important to have this document of our band as it was. It was kind of done in a rush. We walked into the studio and made it in like five hours, a little more with the mixing.
It was important to record that Gabi record the songs she made with us – our band continues but it wouldn’t be nice if someone else have done the recordings. The idea was to release the album at a gig while she was here, so we held the record until the beginning of this year, when she was visiting Maceió. We released the songs online and then played it live all together.
The feeling to have something solid for the four of us is very important, because we’ve done everything: compositions, recordings and promotion.
In the lyrics from Não precisamos da sua aprovação, you approach issues like sexism within the punk movement. What is the situation like in Alagoas nowadays?
The lyrics express experiences — ours and from friends. Those are experiences we all have been through at some point just for being women and it is the way we found to report those abuses, to get us closer to each other and make it clear we don’t need to struggle alone.
It’s not a good situation in any Brazilian state, there are always reports appearing. Here in Maceió it’s not different. We don’t have time to be didactic, you know? Many times we have to go for it with anger so we can be heard. We’re always trying to fight this kind of attitude and offer support if possible.
Tell us about releasing a crust and feminist record on Brazilian northeast in 2017, with all of us being in a political crisis, illegitimate government, attacks on minorities and rise of fascists and sexists politicians.
Man, just like the entire world, the Brazilian northeast is still pretty sexist. At the same time, in Maceió, I’ve never seen so many girls in the scene. And they’re not just there, they’re moving, meeting, participating. I think the band is more like an propeller, despite the fact that not everybody enjoys that kind of music. Representation is important as fuck, you know, and all that shit happening in the country made some people go to the streets and feel an identification with the lyrics’s issues, that’s fucking awesome! It brings us together and gives us strength to face what is coming.
You also are being part of PUNHO, a musical, feminist and activist movement in Maceió. Could you tell us about that project?
So, PUNHO is organized basically by RÄIVÄ and Oldscratch, with some other partners. We already organized several events, but we never fully participate in every organization stage. The idea of being part of this is empowering and we decided to make the event, creating an environment in which girls could be comfortable.
The first edition happened in the same week RAKTA was in a northeast tour, which was great for the event. The second one happened in our ‘little house,’ the Quintal Cultural, a place where most of the underground rock gigs happen and everybody felt welcomed, like a mother’s heart.
Despite all that, it’s still too far from our ideal. We have many wishes, but few resources. But we’re here trying to make the next PUNHOS happen.
How does the city of Maceió influence your songs in musical or other aspects?
It’s a direct influence, just like any other city – in every dark corner we get scared as we walk, everywhere we give support to a female friend, every report of violence and abuse that emerges. Our daily lives are here, it’s where we suffer and struggle.
What are your plans for this year? After Não precisamos da sua aprovação, are you planning new releases, tours or pressings? Your doing a split on Oxenti Records, right?
The idea is to release physical copies of our online EP. We’re also planning on going to São Paulo in June and maybe Rio. There will be a new release, this Oxenti Records split, but we don’t have much information on it right now. At the moment we’re making new songs, so maybe our sets can reach 20 minutes (laughs).
We invite anyone reading to get in touch with us, chat, trade some zines – we have some with the lyrics, if anyone is interested. If you want to know what we are doing, just follow us on our social media or send us an email at [email protected]