Emefe Brings Afrobeat’s Energy to the Northeast
On a cool winter’s Saturday night, a small apartment in Mission Hill, Boston was hosting a band called Emefe in its cramped basement. At least fifty guests danced elbow-to-elbow as sweat slid down their arms and dripped from their foreheads. Their delighted shrieks could be heard under the blaring sounds of the saxophones and trumpets that waved their golden crowns above the nodding heads. The energy in the room bubbled and burst as each song reached its peak. Occasionally the bandleader would motion for everyone to lower themselves to the floor as the music softened and shimmy back up the ceiling as the music ascended.
“What I love about playing live shows is being able to connect to people and feel like we are all in the circle together. It’s not like we are on the stage and you’re on the floor, our energies are all swirling around in this room. Its undeniable that in our shows it feels like one big party, some of us have instruments in our hands and some of us are just are dancing and feeling the energy,” said Miles Arntzen, Emefe’s bandleader and drummer.
Emefe has a unique sound inspired by Afrobeat; a combination of jazz, funk, chanted vocals and African music influences that became popular in the 1960’s.
“I had just started going to school at NYU in the fall of 2009 and I wanted to get a group together that would play some of the music I was starting to write which was inspired by Afrobeat music. I was just discovering Afrobeat music and the music just took over my brain and my life, I listened to it all the time and I started demoing my own songs,” said Arntzen.
Arntzen pulled together eleven people who were interested in his idea of a live-based band with Afrobeat influences. They named the band Emefe which stands for the letters “MFA” meaning “Music Frees All,” the band’s proud motto. In the last three years, the band has taken mini tours to areas such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York in order to spread their music to anyone who will listen.
“More and more we are spreading our music around and trying to travel places,” said Arntzen, “Our next move is to get into the studio and record a record that is really our statement to the world, get it everywhere in everyone’s hands.”
Currently, interested listeners can visit http://emefe.bandcamp.com/ and download Emefe’s “Europe EP” for free. Arntzen hopes in the next year to have an album recorded. The challenge, he says, is capturing the energy and the spirit of a live performance in a recording. Until then Emefe continues to perform in the area. Their next performance is February 17th at 92Y Tribeca in New York City.
“Music is all about letting go and putting yourself in the state of mind of letting music take you somewhere and that’s what we want to do more than anything else; play music that will take listeners to a place where they can relax without worrying about anything and without stressing out,” said Arntzen.
Emefe performing live:
Click here to purchase tickets for Emefe’s next show: http://www.facebook.com/emefemusic