Underground System
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Underground System

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2010
Band World Indie




"5 great bands to see at this weekend’s free Fringe Music Fest"

The first-ever Capital Fringe Music Festival will be curated by Jim Thomson, a man who’s best known for co-founding Gwar, a metal band best known for spewing fake blood. But you don’t have to get out your prosthetic devil horns for this weekend’s event. The lineup Thomson has come up with is decidedly mellow.

“I like metal and loud, aggressive punk music, but I think anything really noisy would be at risk of getting shut down,” he says.

That’s because the festival will be at Old City Farm and Guild, an outdoor space in a residential neighborhood. Though there won’t be any hard-rock bands, plenty of genres are represented.

“I’m really into mixed bills, when genres collide,” he says. “I love that an indie pop band like Future Generations or Shark Week will be playing next to an Afrobeat band from Brooklyn or an Ethiopian jazz group from D.C., or Daniel Bachman, who plays an old form of blues. Maybe someone is going to get knocked over the head with something they didn’t expect to hear.”

Thomson has been booking stand-alone concerts for the theater and music organization for years, and is thrilled he got to put together Fringe’s first alfresco musical showcase.

“I love outdoor shows,” he says. “Being outdoors in the elements — it’s more primal and ritualistic, you know?”

Underground System

This 10-piece Afrobeat band represents a melange of cultures and musical influences. Black Italian-American frontwoman Domenica Fossati grew up in Miami and Venezuela and brings musical influences from all those cultures (and others) together in her jazzy vocals and flute riffs. “They play funk with West African rhythms — they’ve kind of invented their own sound,” Thomson says. (Sun., 9 p.m.) - Washington Post


Leo Mas dropped the original of Underground System`s “Bella Ciao” in his Boiler Room set last summer, when he revisited Ibiza alongside fellow Amnesia veteran Alfredo Fiorito, and Kelvin Andrews & Apiento, collectively representing old and new schools of Balearic Beat. Leo & Fabrice`s remix sends the NYC Afro of that original spinning in Dub, smoothing out its Punk spikes. A party going bang in the background. I can hear similarities with Golf Channel`s Central Executives, and its perhaps no coincidence that Leo & Fabrice have also recently remixed “the Exec`s” “Loveray 79”. Finger snaps and handclaps. Horns do the Masekela.

Their Dub proper gives the bass even more space. The “On Air” mix removes the drums but not the handclaps, and gives the track, and dancers, a chance to catch their breath. Psychoactive residuals still coursing. A tambourine carrying that party on inside your head.

On a separate 10” the “Laguna” version, credited to Leo, Fabrice and Gigi Masin, flicks the stereo from 45 to 33, cuts the BPMs from 120 to 90 The rhythm lolloping, supported by the shoulders of a piano and the ambience of a morning tide, has you taking in wonders as you slowly wind your way home. When a new day might be just enough to wag your tail. A dawn`s chorus, be it birds & cicadas or the beginnings of city traffic & steel storefronts rattling open. Witnessing first light first hand.

“Bella Ciao” is a song with a history. Adapted from a traditional holler of the rice weeders of the River Po basin, it was adopted by the Italian Resistance as they fought against the Fascist Social Republic during the 1943-1945 civil war. It has subsequently been translated into Breton, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Danish, English, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Kurdish, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Tagalog, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, and Ukrainian, and recognized as an international hymn of freedom. If you were listening you would have heard it sung as students protested against tuition fees in Parliament Square in London, when New Yorkers occupied Wall Street, from the crowds in Turkey`s Taksim Gezi Park, at the funerals of those murdered at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, by Greece`s Coalition of the Radical Left, and by the Kurds in Syria. - Test Pressing

"Chief Boima Remixes Underground System’s ‘Bella Ciao’"

This past February, Brooklyn based afrobeat band Underground System released Bella Ciao, a two-track EP that boosted the hectic rhythms, blazing horns and genre-splicing elements that the band is known for. Now, the 10-member group is prepping the release of Bella Ciao Remixed (via Ropeadope Records), a 5-track EP featuring reworked tracks from Brooklyn-based trio Archie Pelago, Underground System’s own band leader Peter Matson and Das Racist alum Kool A.D & Kassa Overall (aka Kool & Kass). Globe trotting beatmaker Chief Boima also appears on the EP, giving his own slowed down, bass-heavy rendition of the title track. Adding an explosive drum pad line and looping the female frontline chant into a hypnotic circle, Boima creates a down and dirty scorcher ready for dance floors across the world. The full-length Bella Ciao Remixed EP drops August 5th and can be pre-ordered/purchased on iTunes. Until then listen to Chief Boima’s “Bella Ciao” rework below and for more from Boima check out his Africa In Your Earbuds mix he did for us a while back. - Okayafrica


Fans of Fela Kuti, Afrobeat and funky good times can rejoice! Afropop is proud to present Chop and Quench “The Fela! Band,” Underground System, and Damian Quinones y su Nuevo Conjunto, with DJ Earl Maxton (Antibalas), at Brooklyn Night Bazaar this Sat., Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

Anyone who has seen the Fela! musical on Broadway is familiar with the Afrobeat excellence of Chop and Quench. The group is made up of Fela! cast members, including the show’s star, Tony Award nominee Sahr Ngaujah, who thrillingly captures the unmistakable, magnetizing presence of Fela on stage.

Underground System, another of New York’s most explosive Afrobeat acts, stands out as one of the few led by a female singer (and flutist): Domenica Fossati. The band has expanded from its roots in Fela’s sound to styles as diverse as Italian folk and baile funk. They also put on a mindblowing show–definitely not to be missed.

Closing off the bill is Damian Quinones y su Nuevo Conjunto, a Brooklyn-based group that plays music of a different variety–including tropicalia and salsa—but in a similarly funky groove.

If you went to the last Brooklyn Night Bazaar show we sponsored back in July, you know that this is a fantastic venue with food, blacklight mini-golf and plenty of good vibes. Come on down and get in the groove! [165 Banker St., Brooklyn, NY 11222] - Afropop Worldwide


Pump up the volume and get ready to shake your thang to some high-energy Afrobeat! We're premiering Underground System's new video 'Bella Ciao'.
The Underground System team tells us: "The video for Bella Ciao takes place at a ‘zumba-esque’ fitness class gone terribly wrong. Frontwoman Domenica Fossati (a real life certified Zumba instructor and African Dancer) whips the band and friends into a frenzied dance, emphasizing the closing lyrics of the song: MORTO PER LA LIBERTÀ (Die for freedom).
Underground System front woman, flutist, singer and dancer Domenica Fossati is all over the place. Hailing from Miami, via Venezuela, this Afro-Italian artist is Trilingual and well-acquainted with Yoruba and Ewe ethnic tongues. She trained in traditional African dance during a stint in Ghana. As an instrumentalist, her whistling rolls have found a home with everything from modern chamber music, art pop, indie rock to Afrobeat. omenica leads the band with Peter Matson, guitarist, DJ, producer (Awkwafina) and *fun fact!* the great-grandson of Irving Berlin." - Afropunk

"Live Music: Kairo Myth; Underground System; Dance to the Music; Soda City Riot"

NYC Afrobeat | Underground System
Wed. June 22
10 p.m.
Pour House

The 10-piece band Underground System formed in 2010 around a mutual interest in ferociously rhythmic Afrobeat music. Not that a band that big fell into place immediately. "It took a couple of years after we started the group to get it solidified with the core group we have now," says co-founder, singer, and guitarist Peter Matson. The band's initial sound was straight-ahead, percussion-heavy African music, inspired by a wave of renewed interest in that genre that was floating around the Big Apple, but they've since moved into a more exploratory, stretched-out style that blends in rock and electronic dance music. "The thing that's interesting about this style is that it can be misinterpreted as 'jam music,'" Matson says. "But essentially all the parts are written. Every part has to interlock with the rest of the band. There's a lot of rehearsal over time that makes you able to play well as an ensemble." Folks with a Dead on the Deck (6:30 p.m., Pour House) or Rebelution (6:20 p.m., North Charleston Riverfront Park) wristband will receive $3 off at the door. —Vincent Harris WEDNESDAY - Charleston City Paper

"Underground System Afrobeat EP Teaser Video"

"Dig this video from Underground System Afrobeat, a Brooklyn based afrobeat ensemble who plan to release their debut EP in the coming months. This video is dedicated to the bootyshakers of the world..." - The Afrobeat Blog

"European Press (Dutch)"

De Afrikaanse up-tempo funk uit de jaren 70 zit duidelijk in de lift. Met de regelmaat van de klok worden oude highlife- en afrofunkplaten van onder het stof gehaald en zien nagelnieuwe afrobeat bands het levenslicht. Nu blijkt dat Brooklyn naast Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra nóg een ensemble Kuti-volge­lingen huisvest: Underground System Afrobeat. Hun debuut EP B.O.B. vond gelukkig snel de weg onze testbank.

De slechts twee nummers tellende EP is toch goed voor bijna twintig minuten afrobeatplezier en lost de verwachtingen van de titel B.O.B. — wat voor "Bootyshake OutBreak" staat — aardig goed in. Hun groove zit overduidelijk snor en de vrouwelijke lead vocals (zowel in het Engels en als in het Spaans) zorgen voor een welkome afwis­se­ling in het door mannen gedomi­neer­de afrobeat­wereldje. De jazz dimensie neemt bij wijlen de bovenhand in hun mix en hoewel dat niet bij iedereen in goede aarde zal vallen, kan onder­getekende dat best wel appreciëren. Hopelijk kunnen we deze elf­koppige band uit New York binnenkort live aan het werk zien in ons belganland, al zou dat nog een tijdje kunnen duren. In tussentijd kan u uw honger stillen met (de previews van) de EP op cdbaby.com en deze video teaser is uiteraard ook warm aanbevolen. - tropicalidad.be

""Underground System Afrobeat Steals the Show at Greenpoint Loft Party""

"Eleven people total. Everyone is holding a live instrument in their hand. The group’s lead singer, Domenica Fossati, a curvy-cute mamma with an afro-like hairdo and a deep beautiful voice, has just put down her flute. She’s encouraging us all to move our hips a little bit more. “Thank you to all the beautiful ladies here,” she cooes into the microphane, her eyes & smile skirting across the front row of grooving women, “Thank you for coming out to daaaaaance! Now shake what your mamma gave you!” The song picks up and spirals back into a mesh-up of African beats – saxophones, bass, guitar, chanting, congas & keys.

I look around me – I am quite close to the stage – and I get the feeling that everyone in the room unanimously agrees that this is not just music, but good music. Heads are bopping and shoulders swing on their own accord. People are happy to be here. The band’s charisma and talent has drawn in everyone within earshot. Even the guy who would normally be found leaning against the bar & enjoying the show without moving a muscle has inched forward and begun to tap is feet. The Brooklyn-based band is a smashing success. When in need of a healthy release, a fun night, or just good music, check ‘em out and dance it out – Underground System Afrobeat. - MicChloeQ

"Gig Alert: Underground System"

The 11-member band called Underground System Afrobeat hails from Brooklyn -- but they are a pretty global group. Frontwoman Domenica Fossati is Venezualan-born, Miami-bred -- and the band puts a New York spin on a classic West African pop sound.

Download the track “B.O.B” from Underground System Afrobeat. The band plays Brooklyn Bowl Tuesday night. And, catch members of Underground System Afrobeat live in The Greene Space on September 7, 2012. More information here. - WNYC

"Bear Creek Music & Art Festival Photo Coverage"

Photo coverage of our first performance at The 2011 Bear Creek Music & Art Festival in Live Oak, FL - Jacksonville.com

"Dusty Groove America"

Modern Afrobeat from Brooklyn – with a unique vibe! This is the debut EP from Underground System Afrobeat – recorded after honing their craft on the live scene for a solid year-or-so – long enough to really get it down! This is the way contemporary Afrobeat ought to sound – heavy rhythms, tight horns, funk & soul guitar, bass and keys – played by dexterous musicians. One thing that sets USA apart in a fertile New York scene is their strong female vocal front. Multilingual singer and flautist Domenica Fossati is on lead vocals – and she's great, not to overlook a sharp ensemble. Players include founder and guitarist Peter Matson, guitarist Bob Lanzetti, David Cutler on bass, drummer Yahoteh Kokayi, Yoshi Takemasa on congas, Greg Sanderson on tenor, Jackie Coleman on trumpet, Colin Brown on keys, and Maria Christina Eisen on baritone sax and vocals. Includes 2 lengthy jams: "BOB" at 8+ minutes and "95 South" at just short of 12 minutes. (Includes code for digital download.) - Dusty Groove America

"Living The Dream"

"One of those "hidden gems" is Underground System Afrobeat, an all star group of afrobeat musicians, some who have been a part of the Tony award winning musical "FELA!" about legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti" - O Town Scene


Bella Ciao: The Leo Mas & Fabrice Remixes (Hell Yeah Records, Italy)
Feb. 2016

Bella Ciao Remixed 
(Ropeadope Records)
Aug. 2014

Bella Ciao EP (Ropeadope Records) 
Feb. 2014

The B.O.B. EP "Bootyshake OutBreak" (self released) 
Nov. 2011

BOB EP available iTunes under "Underground System Afrobeat"
All other albums available in iTunes under "Underground System

12" Vinyls sold at:
Earwax Records in Williamsburg
BK Academy Records in Williamsburg and Manhattan (East Village)
Wax 'n Facts in Atlanta, GA
Record Surplus in Los Angeles, CA
Vacation Vinyl in Los Angeles, CA
Origami Vinyl in Los Angeles, CA
Dusty Groove America in Chicago, IL

We’ve Been played on:
Jeremy Soles Show (KCRW)
Craig n Charles Funk Show (BBC)
UNregular Radio (Boston)
Groovalizacion Radio (Belgium)
Urgent.fm (Belgium)
The Afrobeat Show (BreakThru radio)



Underground System came bubbling up out of BKNY in early 2010. Originally steeped in influence and inspiration credited to Fela Kuti and the West African pioneered Afrobeat aesthetic, they have since carved out a niche that stands uniquely alone as their own. With several successful 12” single releases behind them via Ropeadope Records and Hell Yeah (Italy) and a noteworthy touring schedule to back it up (featured appearances at Burlington Jazz Fest, Bear Creak Music & Arts, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Natural History), this forward thinking and diverse group has laid all the groundwork and is ready to aim the big guns- bringing their uncompromising and original New York bred style to a soundsystem near you.

For Underground System, their recent single release “Bella Ciao” (Out February 2014 on Ropeadope Records) is the first taste of what’s to come. A menagerie of the best kind – part baile funk MCing, part italian folk song, part afrobeat anthem – starting somewhere modern, dark, and latenight club friendly, bringing it back just in time to a bouncy and deceptively light feel, the whole while grounded in the timeless sensibility and authority of a killer live band. Set to music by founder Peter Matson and frontwoman Domenica Fossati and given life by the bands collective work in arrangement, the ever-evolving personalities and influences on this record shine brighter than ever.

No one can deny the groups power and ability to package so many disparate influences with a unifying voice, and they owe a lot to the physical presence of what is one of the most diverse and dynamic crews of players to be assembled on the ground in NYC for a long time.  A few phone calls and some chance meetings set the stage early on for where they are today: 8 core members deep, split equally between gender, representing too many cultural backgrounds to list, and boasting one of the most naturally enthralling live shows around. The energy the band exudes is confident, raw, and uninhibited, engaging and inviting every audience to lose themselves in the moment. The female front line is unique in its own rite and flips the script on the stereotypical male dominated afrobeat and big band culture in a perfectly nonchalant way. No marketing ploys or calculations here, the group organically evolved and ended up this way, a true reflection of the ideals it puts forward in every performance; the music created speaks for itself.

Band Members