Afrobeta Talks Under the Streets, Identity Festival, and 40-Person Bear Hugs

For five years, Cuci Amador and Tony Smurphio have been playing together as Afrobeta. These two are pros at getting crowds sweaty and riled up.

Right now, they're getting ready to kick off a summer tour with the Identity Festival by throwing one more party at the Electric Pickle this Saturday. And a tour is also in the works to promote Cuci and Tony's first full-length album Under The Streets, set to be released this September.

Crossfade spoke with the talented twosome about their tours, their fears, and their hopes. They responded by telling us about 40-person bear hugs and an entertaining tweaker elf.

Crossfade: This Saturday's party at the Pickle is kicking off your summer tour with the Identity Festival. Are you excited about some of the other bands that'll be playing the fest?

Cuci: Absolutely.

Tony: Holy Ghost!

Cuci: Nero!

Tony: LA Riots! Booka Shade!

Cuci: I pretty much want to see everybody. It's good company, the whole tour. Hercules and Love Affair, I'm a fan of them.

You guys played Coachella this year. That must have been pretty intense.

Cuci: We played one the ancillary pool parties for Coachella. We still haven't played Coachella yet. That is the holy grail.

Tony: We were supposed to play Sunday morning in the Do LaB. But it was a logistic nightmare, so we never got to do it.

You guys did play at Burning Man. Any crazy stories?

Cuci: Burning Man was cool. The whole jumping in the crowd thing ... That was pretty dope.

Tony: At Burning Man, we played at sunrise at the Tower of Babel. The sun was rising and you could actually start seeing people.

Cuci: It looked like you were on another planet. The whole horizon looks like you were on a friendly planet. Not like Mars, maybe like Venus. It was all yellow. And then the characters that were out there. There was a guy with a pink wig and a tutu, a football helmet. Everybody was in all of these interesting costumes. There's actually a video of it on YouTube. I came down from that huge tower, which was like 15 feet tall or something crazy, and there was a wireless mic. So I jumped in the crowd and everybody gave me this huge bear hug. If you've ever had a bear hug with like 40 people at once ... It was pretty wild. Pretty awesome.

Do you have a fantasy third person to bring in and play with Afrobeta?

Tony: We have a few other people that aren't a fantasy who play with us. But a fantasy?

Cuci: A small Asian wizard elf guy. He could just be the tweaker, so that we could do more things live. I would just want my little tweaker elf so that I could just concentrate on performing and playing. But no, we're fortunate to have local percussionists who play with us, like JJ Freire of Suenalo.

Tony: He's the most amazing drummer in Miami.

Cuci: And Nabedi Osorio from State Of and Kamikazi has come up and he features on our album. Amin de Jesus, the MC for Suenalo is also featured on the album. He's come up and jammed with us.

Tony: Benjamin Shahoulian, he writes some lyrics. We let him do a couple poems with us sometimes.

Cuci: Sometimes we jam with him on his poems.

Your new album, Under the Streets, is coming out in September. Obviously you want everyone to love it. But is there any other response you hope to get from it?

Tony: We want to get a booking agent, a proper booking agent. That's what our label is working on right now.

Cuci: But besides the business side of it. For me, personally, I love when somebody's in the crowd, and you're singing the song to them, and they come up to you like, "Oh my God, that's totally happened to me!" People identifying with the stories in your songs. It's the most rewarding thing for me.

Do you guys write the music and lyrics separately? How does your process work

Tony: There's no formula. But mostly, the lyrics are about 90 percent Cuci.

Cuci: Sometimes the music comes first and the lyrics come after and sometimes the music comes first and the lyrics come after. It really depends on the story of the song.

Tony: It's a shared process.

You're becoming more and more popular. Do you have any trepidation or fears about that about possibly becoming really famous?

Cuci: I don't want to be Amy Winehouse or Kurt Cobain or somebody that can't deal...

Tony: The only fear I have is not being home for too long. We have dogs.

Cuci: I think we just need to bring them on the road. We need to bring them in like a papoose, you just put them on your back. No, I mean, it's a profession. It's a job. It's not in the sense that it's a job because it's something that you love to do. It's like your officio.

Your vocation?

Cuci: Yeah. You work to try to raise the awareness and part of what helps you get your sound out to a lot of people is that more people know it. It's the good part of the job. If you were a doctor, you'd want a lot of people in your town to know about you so that they'd come to your clinic. It's kind of the same thing.

Tony: You're not scared of a stalker?

Cuci: No, I'm not scared. Anything could happen to you. I could get in a car accident right now.

Is Afrobeta going to stay in Miami?

Cuci: We love Miami!

Afrobeta's Summer Tour Kickoff Show with Mike Sike, Will Renuart, Brad Strickland, Joshua IZ, and Juan Mejia. Saturday, July 30. The Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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