The electronic showcase known as the Identity Festival tour is headed our way, hitting the PNC Bank Arts Center in Camden on August 14th. The festival features a stellar line-up (see all of ’em here). Beat Of My Strut had a quick Q & A with two hot acts at the festival musical pioneers Holy Ghost!, and Miami’s funky duo Afrobeta!
BOMS: In terms of music how would you describe what you play?
HG: The songs we write and play live usually live in the dance-pop-sans-irony tent at the theoretical festival of music. The music we DJ and that we make as remixers of other artists, tends to veere slightly left of that tent, into the smaller, more intimate house/disco tent.
BOMS: You have a sound that is similar to Steely Dan mixed with some pretty thumping beats. How much are you influenced by pop rock music from the 70’s and 80’s vs. the music of today? ∙
HG: yes, we grew up in the 80’s/90’s so the records of that time period, and of our parents heyday (the 70’s) hold a special place in our own discovery of music and enjoyment of it. Of course we also listen to current music, or some, but we’re not the type of guys who have 15 terragigas of mp3s. We don’t know how to use torrent. We still buy vinyl. I barely use my ipod. We like to discover hidden and forgotten gems from other times, like antique dealers, upper west side moms, and hip hop heads do.
BOMS: I know you utilize a lot of different synthesizers – do you have a favorite?
HG: The yamaha cs 80, hands down.
BOMS: And is there a holy grail of synths that you may be on the hunt for?
HG: 10 years we looked, 10 years we searched the digital and physical marketplaces…then we found and bought a cs 80. Well nick did, but I helped carry it.
BOMS: You’ve played hundreds of show around the globe – could you pick and describe one of your favorites and why?
HG: Primavera festival 2011, barcelona spain: its 3.30am, our stage capacity Is about 8k people, barcelona has just defeated manchester united, we are the last act of the festival on that stage…..amazing. Probably more to do with soccer than our performance though!
BOMS: If you could invite any musician(s) to join you in the band (alive or dead) who would you pick?
HG: Ooohwee . Tony thompson from chic on bass, Bernard Edwards from chic on bass, Nile Rodgers from Chic on guitar, Brian Eno on synths, Bernie Worrell on keys + percussion…so basically Talking Heads + Chic. We’d just watch.
BOMS: What inspires you away from music – art, food, play, etc?
HG: Right now we’re really into coconut water, with pulp, from Thailand.
BOMS: If you believe music evolves over time – where do you see Holy Ghosts sound going 5 years from now?∙
HG: No idea, honestly
BOMS: (Tongue and cheek Q) Does the genre Yacht Rock or Yacht House come with recommend attire best suited for listening?
HG: Gold necklace with Jewish star, faded blue Levis, open button down, moustache, boat shoes. Or I guess that’s any dude from Williamsburg as well….
BOMS: For people unfamiliar with your music – What can people expect when coming out to an Afrobeta show?
Cuci: Lots of energy and a good time!
BOMS: How much is having a stage presence important to the style of electro-pop that you play? And how have you developed your stage presence?
Cuci: I think what is described as presence is just communicating the songs. We take our time crafting the songs and working on the live show.
Smurphio: Playing in front of a live audience, practicing and always working on new synth sounds.
BOMS: When you two pen a song who writes more for the band – Cuci Amador or Smurphio? And what influences what you write/sing about? Are there topics that are off limits?
Cuci: I’m guessing you are asking about lyrics more than music. We share the duties of writing lyrics. We like to write about real experiences. No topic is off limits!
BOMS: Do you feel more comfortable playing in a live setting or in the studio? And why is there a comfort level difference – if there is one?
Smurphio: There is a difference to playing in front of an audience as opposed to the studio. In a live situation, it feels like a give and take with the audience. In the studio we rely on each other to get the creativity flowing.
BOMS: You’ve played hundreds of shows– could you pick and describe one of your favorites and why or pick a moment that stands out to you?
Smurphio: We played this little festival at Jimbo’s in Virginia Key called Swamp Stomp. The stage was all rickety and not much more than some wooden boards set up haphazardly. But the energy was incredible! The crowd was all around us, behind and in front and singing the songs. Amazing.
BOMS: Your video for “Play House” is ridiculously creative – what inspired this video? And how much were you involved in its creation / direction?
Cuci: The video was inspired by the director, Ruben Van Leer’s interpretation of the song. We collaborated remotely on Dropbox.com for a month before the shoot. It was important to share ideas beforehand because we flew all the way into Ruben’s hometown, Amsterdam, for the shoot.
BOMS: If you believe music evolves over time – where do you see the Afrobeta sound going 5 years from now? And where do you see the genre of Electro-pop going in the next 5 years?
Cuci: We do believe music evolves over time. Our sound will incorporate more exotic instrumentation. Electro is pop right now and in 5 years it’s gonna not going to be called electro anymore.
BOMS: What inspires you away from music – travel,art,sport, etc?
Smurphio: zoos, super bounce balls and furry animals
Cuci: nature! We are lucky to have a lot of that here in Miami. The summer has been so fun for kayaking, paddleboarding and biking.