Feeding in the dark corners of the room, Afrobeta want to make you make love. Two home-grown beat slaves set on dance floor domination, if Afrobeta bothers to make a sound, it's going to be the kind of hyphy-groove your body can't deny.
Tucked away in a shed behind their Miami home sits beat-master Tony, a.k.a. Smurphio. His hair grows wildly out in a brown, fuzzy dome with glimpses of white. You couldn't miss this guy in a crowd of hundreds. He jokes that if he's the "afro" in Aforbeta, his partner Cristina, stage-name Cuci Amador, is the "beta half."
The shed has been converted into a studio. The wooden walls are covered in sheets and silencing foam. More than half the space is filled with synths and computers, drums, guitars, microphones and recording equipment. As if not to seem constrained by geography, they're quick to point out that they "write anywhere."
The affable pair came together in 2007, inspired by the fusion of hipster attitudes, guitar-driven musicality, and dance music rhythms coming from Justice and the like. Afrobeta performed 150 live sets at bars and clubs before recording a single note. They built a reputation and devoted fan base on their fresh mix of electronic and analog elements, fueled by a lively stage-presence. Couple that energy with quirky visuals, fun props, and an array of instrumentation, and you've got an underground hit.
They've come a long way doing it. They just took the stage both weekends at Ultra Music Festival 2013.
"But the scene has grown into that," Amador said. "It never was that in the beginning, I don't think."
Before recording debut LP Under The Streets, or last-years follow-up Wig party, a lot of their show turn-out included fellow music insiders. Smurphio and Amador said that initial support from the local scene was key to building a momentum. More heads started coming out to the bars they headlined, and unfamiliar faces began to appear in the crowd.
"I think the sense of community is really important," Amador said. "We have to support each other in this scene, because there isn't an industry that's pushing it, propelling it forward. In New York or Austin or LA, Nashville, there's a music industry that's invested in the young artists coming up, and there's all these things that we don't have."
That sense of community is bringing Afrobeta together with Jacuzzi Boys, MillionYoung, and about 30 other local acts for Block X Blog music festival on Saturday, April 20. The night will be headlined by NYC-based synthpop duo Holy Ghost!, and is meant to showcase the myriad of musical and artistic talent right in south Florida's backyard.
That it's also Record Store Day is no coincidence. The organizers of the event, Subculture, hope to tap into the nostalgic feelings of community music events from the days when more music lovers gathered around new sounds in public.
"There is that community aspect of going to a record store and hearing what's playing or seeing what's recommended," Amador said, "then talking to people about music and getting excited."