Pearls Negras Are The Fiercest Teenagers You’ve Never Met
Straight out of a Brazilian favela, Alice, Jeni and Mari live with an Empire State of Mind…
By Tamara Roper
You probably don’t know Pearls Negras, but you ought to, if you like to listen to music that’s made from the heart but served drenched in chilli sauce and gold jewellery.
Alice, Jeni and Mari are from Vidigal, a favela near Rio where the sun always shines, but crime and poverty are inescapable. They met at an after school drama class and have been making Brazilian Riot Grrrl baile funk ever since, having been picked up by Bolabo Records.
Their music is aggressive, sexy and fiercely Brazilian, their lyrics rapid fire Portuguese to the tune of real life issues that turn heads.
MTV met up with the girls, who are still only 17 and 18, to talk boys, fashion and what travelling the world means to three teenagers raised in a favela.
MTV UK: So how’s your time in the UK been?
Alice: We’ve really enjoyed it. We’re going back to Brazil in a couple of days so we’re trying to make the most of it.
MTV UK: What’s your favourite thing you’ve done here so far?
Alice: We really enjoyed Birthdays, where we did one of our gigs, and stayed after the gig. It was a hip hop night, a vibe we love. Also the swimming pool, we love the swimming pools!
MTV UK: You live in Brazil; aren't there loads of opportunities for swimming there?
Mari: There’s not really any swimming pools. There’s the beach, and the sea, but it’s always really packed. It’s not really relaxing.
MTV UK: Your outfits are pretty crazy - how do you decide what to wear in the morning?
Alice: We all have kind of different styles, though it works all together. I like to show off skin, legs, cleavage!
Jeni: I like to be sexy, but still in that sweet kind of way.
Mari: I used to be into trousers, but I’m changing into shorts and looser tops.
MTV UK: Who has the biggest wardrobe?
Mari and Jeni: Alice!
Alice: Everything I see and like, I have to buy it. Jeni has to think about it, whereas Mari is always in the middle. I’m the one with the most stuff, for sure.
MTV UK: Do you steal Alice’s clothes, Jeni and Mari?
All: [Laugh] All the time!
Mari: Every single show we end up using something that’s Alice’s, even if it’s just a necklace, or a lipstick.
Alice: I don’t mind, just don’t leave my stuff in a mess!
MTV UK: What do your friends think of you coming to England?
Mari: They’re really happy, so proud.
Jeni: Some people didn’t believe us, we had to show them pictures of our tickets. Some rival girl groups wouldn’t believe us and would say, "Of course it’s not happening,” and blah blah blah. Now they’re like, "Damn".
MTV UK: Haters gonna hate. Did you always want to come here?
Alice: We always wanted to get out of Brazil. We love London a lot, but the big, big achievement would be New York.
MTV UK: What’s the difference between playing London and Brazil?
Alice: The energy of the public is the same in both places, but because Brazilians can understand what we’re saying and singing, we need to create a bigger impact in London with the physicality and the movements.
MTV UK: Do you dress like this when you’re on stage in Brazil?
All: [Laugh] HA! No! This is a much more simple version of what we’d wear, these outfits are like talking a walk in a forest! We like showing cleavage without being tacky, wear shorts and sparkly jewellery. We’ve got beautiful bodies, we want to show them off!
MTV UK: Do the girls back home dress like you?
Mari: Before they used to make fun of what we wore and they said they hated it. Now all of the girls are copying us, posting pictures on Facebook.
MTV UK: Is that a compliment?
Mari: If they hadn’t criticised it in the first place, it would be flattering!
Alice: I like it - we can write songs about it!
Hear Pearls Negras setting the place alight on their new EP, Nossa Gang here.