Dance music lovers: When was the last time you went to a club and saw something exciting, something that made your soul feel truly alive?
Shake up your Saturday night with the Afro-Cuban House Experiment (A.C.H.É.), a unique live show that mixes electronic beats, old-school Latin percussion, hypnotic singing and chanting, traditional religious dancers, a horn section, and plenty of positive vibes.
A.C.H.É. is the brainchild of three local music veterans — DJ/producer Oscar G, vocalist and percussionist Oba Frank Lords, and singer Katiahshé — who have worked and recorded together many times but also made names for themselves individually.
“It’s a really cool fusion of that old, Afro-Cuban culture with the new American, very Miami element of hip-hop, freestyle, and more soulful house, with all these really cool made-in-Miami beats,” says Katiahshé, real name Michelle Garcia, who adopted her stage name from one of her spirit guides and has also recorded as Chellie G. “It sounds superauthentic, and people ask us all the time: 'Are those samples?' because the vocals that we lay down sound so authentic and the percussion is out of this world and everything comes together so nicely — the whole style.”
"A.C.H.É." is not only an acronym for the project but also a nod to the aché religion.
“It was perfect to us,” says Lords, who sang on the enduring club anthem “Dark Beat,” produced by Oscar G and partner Ralph Falcon in their group Murk, “because aché is religious to us, and at the same time it fit perfectly with those four words.”
Lords calls the group’s sound “Afro-Cuban religious chants and guaguancó and cumbia kind of beats, all mixed in with house and deep-house music,” but slower than standard tribal house, which Oscar G has been famous for spinning at venues such as Club Space over the years.
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“This concept was like a culmination of things that we’d all been doing in different avenues,” Oscar G says, “and then we were able to step it up a notch and just focus more specifically on the Afro-Cuban thing. We’ve actually done a few shows already — this is the third one. And I think one of the reasons that ‘experiment’ is a good word to describe it is because with each show, we’ve been figuring things out, adding new things, and expanding on ideas, so it’s constantly evolving from show to show.”
The effect onstage is one big, delirious party, with Oscar G serving up filthy beats while Lords and his son N’Go Lords jam on their timbales and congas and Katiahshé provides sultry vocals.
“The dancers kind of tie everything in, because they dress in semi-authentic outfits of the religion, with the color scheme and everything,” Lords says. “They’re like the final icing on the whole thing and are doing authentic religious dances as well, but mixed in with hip-hop moves and modern dance and jazz. Everything is a fusion on that stage, even the choreography.”
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Be prepared to lose yourself: This is the type of music that can make you forget where you are and succumb to the pure energy surrounding you.
“A lot of the audience ends up being people who go see DJs, so I think when they witness and experience this, it’s a whole other level of stuff that they may not even be expecting,” Oscar G says. “At first, it’s overwhelming, and then they just get connected into it, and you definitely see people dancing to it in a different kind of way.”
Lords adds with a laugh: “It goes from dancing to shaking.”
A.C.H.É.: The Afro-Cuban House Experiment. 8 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Blackbird Ordinary, 729 SW First Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $20 via eventbrite.com or $30 at the door.