A Black-Italian raised in Miami and Venezuela walks into a bar. She’s flanked by some instrument toting lady friends and a few dudes. There’s a Filipino, a Jewish/Brazilian, a Motswana, a Japanese man, and a couple white guys with guitars (of course). If you’re waiting for the punch line, it’s better seen and heard than read. Underground System, the Brooklyn, NY born female-fronted group of modern afrobeat deconstructionists, is a singularly original and undeniably exciting group. Hanging their hats on an uncompromising stage show, they augment their presence with a multitude of eclectic musical influences and a heavy penchant for the deeper sounding corners of NYC dance floors, bringing a refreshing sense of urgency to what is at the core a classic tight-knit, no frills, show stopping act.
Other than the extra-musical and cultural factors, Underground System separation from the norm of touring afro-friendly bands was cemented with the recent release and subsequent proliferation via about a dozen official remixes of ‘Bella Ciao’ – a retro-futuristic dance floor ready interpretation of a Partisan anti-fascist Italian WWII anthem (Frontwoman Domenica Fossati’s father is off the boat Northern Italian, mom from Flatbush Brooklyn, and she grew up in Miami and Venezuela; you do the math). This single has had an impressive little run – there were three separate 12” vinyl releases dedicated to it (Ropeadope Records, Hell Yeah! Records), remixes from electronic wunderkinds Archie Pelago, viral MC Kool A.D. (Das Racist), and the tune attained cult status on the dance floor all over the Mediterranean region when it was played and later remixed in the Boiler Room on Ibiza by Leo Mas, the protagonist resident DJ of the Balearic revolution on the island during the infamous summer(s) of love.
Aside from the success of ‘Bella’, their live show over the past year has evolved and brings their newfound concept of sonic palette to a place as diverse as the players. The group at this stage is just as likely to tip their hats to the imitable South Bronx girl group ESG as they are Fela Kuti, and lately have been leaning on a raucous interpretation of British new wave cult classic band XTC to close their shows. Sitting on a wealth of brand new original material currently being produced in the studio, they will begin in 2016 to spread their wings with it live. For their forthcoming debut full length recording they have tapped resident indie rock legend and Brooklyn guru Tony Maimone (of Pere Ubu and They Might be Giants fame) as well as former DFA Studio manager Abe Seiferth to engineer, under the close watch and collaboration of producer/bandleader Peter Matson. The progressive social and sonic thesis statement of the band is fully laid on the line for these upcoming records, and you can catch them now in a city near you for an early taste of things to come.
Some recent press for Underground System comes from Afropunk, okayafrica, The Washington Post, Time Out NY, The Village Voice, Test Pressing, and Afropop Worldwide. Some recent tour stops for Underground System include The Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Bowl, Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, WNYC, Brooklyn Museum, WMI, Le Poisson Rouge, The Ace Hotel, Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Sofar Sounds NYC, American Museum of Natural History, and S.O.B.’s