Watch Underground System's Wild Stop-Motion 'Go' Video: Premiere

Tiffany Smith
Underground System

After eight years of experimenting and developing a sound, New York's Underground System is rolling it out with its debut album, What Are You, and the single "Go," whose video is premiering below.

The collective formed during 2010, primarily playing Afrobeat and heavily influenced by the music of Fela Kuti (the group is even named after one of his songs). "It wasn't until a few years ago we started to formulate what I feel was an original concept behind the group," co-founder and guitarist Peter Matson tells Billboard. "This is the first time we're really making a statement, but it's developed from... a straight-ahead Afrobeat band to bringing in all these other influences we have. We grew up on a diet of rock music and jazz, pop music from around the world. It was a big challenge but I feel like where just starting to get there with this sound we're developing."

Matson considers the percolating, bass-driven "Go" to be indicative of Underground System's journey. "It's definitely one piece of the puzzle, which becomes pretty evident when you put together a few of the tracks," he explains. "('Go') is relatively straight-ahead in terms of an identifiable verse and chorus-type song structure. It's a very New York-centric kind of dance rock and post punk. The lyrics stem from some dark personal experience, but it's a very energetic tune." The animated, stop-action video, meanwhile, was put together by Alice Cohen -- aka Alice Desoto, the former frontwoman for the Vels as well as a graphic artist.

"It's a really cool process," Matson marvels. "She does (the animation) all by hand, cutting out of books and magazines and actually shooting frame by frame and piecing it all together slowly and then finally editing on the computer. That's what we appreciated the most, beyond the aesthetic, was the craftsmanship. That's the way we producer or music, too; It's all recorded audio, not dealing with samples, bringing in musicians we know and kind of structuring all these things from the ground up."

With What Are You out in early September, Underground System is gearing up for fall touring. And Matson predicts the album will have a life beyond its original release. "We'll do some remixes of this record and then probably get to writing again as soon as possible so we have more material for next year -- and beyond," he says. "It's definitely time to get into constant writing mode and try to keep things moving as much as possible. The band is definitely ready to work."


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