By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Even if you're a zombified corpse with zero rhythm, permanently locked joints, and an insatiable hunger for human brains, there's still a pretty good chance an Afrobeta song might elicit some sizzle from your shriveled, prune-like dance gland.
You could, for instance, be stalking the flooded, postapocalyptic ruins of a suburban shopping mall when the duo's signature song, "Do You Party?," comes crackling over the PA speakers. At first, you might mistake singer Cuci Amador's joyous shrieks ("Just you and me/It's time to go!") for the screams of fresh female prey. But then, suddenly, her teammate Tony Smurphio's synths snap your spine, and a strange, vaguely familiar impulse explodes into the broken pathways of your atrophied nervous system.
For the first time in ages, gooey, delicious gray matter isn't your only thought. You really wanna move your decaying body. Pop and lock. Do the zombie. If for only a split second, you remember what it was like to be a human being on the dance floor with friends till 5 a.m., sucking back vodka Red Bulls and snapping sexy pics for your Facebook profile.
2826 N. Miami Ave.
Miami, FL 33127
Category: Dance Clubs
Region: Midtown/Wynwood/Design District
Now maybe we should just accept the fact that Afrobeta is somehow endowed with a supernatural sonic grip over all creatures. But there's a weird little question that's been nagging us: How in hell can this band possibly bridge the gap between the living and undead? It's one thing to unify rockers, house heads, and indie kids. It's another thing entirely to communicate with those who've tipped over into some sort of necrotic cannibal state.
A few explanations: Perhaps Cuci and Tony are highly trained zombie whisperers. Perhaps they've been given the godly gift of musical telepathy. Or perhaps they're monsters themselves.
We suggest that last (admittedly radical) possibility only because, asked by phone about their age, each one responds rather cryptically.
"I'm forever young," Cuci says, a glint of suspiciousness coloring the phrase.
Meanwhile, Tony jokes, "I'm 72 in dog years."
And sure, those answers seem innocent, playful, and funny enough. But after ten minutes of profound, paranoid contemplation, visions of vampirism and lycanthropy begin to flood one's mind.
When it comes to other personal tidbits, though, these two are more forthcoming. And that's reassuring. For example, Cuci and Tony own a couple of dogs, which is probably the most normal and not-at-all-monstrous thing a person can do. There's a female, Suki, and a male, Midtown Murray, both Chihuahuas. (Note: Cuci would like all readers to know that this particular Suki came several years before Sookie, HBO's True Blood heroine played by Oscar winner Anna Paquin.) Like happy children, the tiny pups can be heard chirping in the background. It's adorable.
But just when we're beginning to believe that a fondness for canines means there's nothing unnatural about Afrobeta, we ask about influences. In the official band bio, "Cuban pastries" are mentioned as a special inspiration. So we wonder what other kinds of nonmusical stuff might worm its way into the music.
"All these dogs. We're big animal lovers," Cuci hums.
"Yeah. Anything that has warm blood and fur," Tony offers oddly, stoking suspicion.
"They're extremely loyal," Cuci elaborates. "And their needs are very simple. There's no evil there."
Blood? Evil? What? Admittedly, the gathering gloam of late October seems to have infested our already overactive imagination. These people are cool. They're not vampires or werewolves or some other superscary species. So in an attempt to the break the spook spell, we shift the conversation to Afrobeta's new, as-yet untitled full-length album.
So far, it's been a slow and steady process, headquartered at the Afrobeta manse. On and off for the past four months, Tony and Cuci have been self-producing the slab at their lair/recording-studio, with the occasional late-night trip to Kent Hernandez's Kentsoundz. Juggling the songwriting and music-making with mini-tours and random gigs, they've have laid down 12 tracks: five semisecret, never-before-heard cuts as well as a few familiar ones and totally rerecorded versions of all four songs ("Do You Party?," "Play House," "Two Different Worlds," and "As Long as You Like") from last year's Do You Party? EP.
"I just thought that the vocals could be better," Cuci says about the decision to rework and rebuild the older tracks.
"The EP was a learning experience," Tony continues. "We thought we had to have a producer and we had to have an engineer. Well, our label did. And we didn't know. We were like, 'All right.'"
"And we both realized that we wanted to be involved in every aspect of the process together," Cuci cuts in. "I felt like when we recorded the EP, Tony would be in one room working on the sounds and I would be in one room working on the vocals. I really wanted both of us to be a part of every note."
Now, strangely, as if planned by that great crypt-keeper in the sky, Afrobeta's recording sessions have wrapped as All Hallows' Eve approaches. (The album, however, won't hit streets till January 2011.) Even right now, the disc is being polished to an almost occult level of perfection by expert hands in dark rooms.
Or, the way Tony puts it: "We're in the mix-down process right now. That'll probably be done this week, and then we'll get it mastered."
Further upping the feeling of fate's cold hand on our shoulder, the band will likely debut those heretofore unheard zombie-charmers at this Saturday's creepy Hollerween homecoming at the Electric Pickle.
"The songs we haven't played live at all, we might be playing those on the 30th," Cuci lets slip in her low, coy croak.
Yet all is strictly secret when it comes to the titles of those tunes or even the vaguest description of their musical powers. Neither member will reveal anything prior to their scheduled Devil's Night date with Miami's rabid population of nightlife bloodsuckers, werewolves, creeps, beasts, and fun freaks. In fact, Cuci and Tony won't even disclose which weird getups they'll wear.
"I'll only say this," Cuci teases, "our costumes are related."
"Yeah. Like Humpty and Dumpty," Tony laughs.
Thus, we know only a few things for sure. Hollerween will be killer. The moon will be exactly half-full. And onstage, Afrobeta will be backed by a big gang of sonic supernaturalists including NYC creep-pop act Holy Ghost! and Omaha, Nebraska's resident oddities Depressed Buttons — plus a half-dozen local DJs gone dead.
Oh, yeah... There will be zombies. And they will be dancing.