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EMEFE is a lively 10-piece afro-rock band from New York City whose members boast some impressive history: Antibalas, Sharon Jones & the Dapkings, Soulive, Charles Bradley, TV on the Radio, Medeski Martin and Wood, etc. Their music is all about being free from worry and, with strong funk, soul, hip-hop, and rock influences in the mix, they also have a way of making audiences move. Here, packed into our studio, the group makes a great racket and chats with Maia about their band name and the philosophy behind the project.
Originating in what they call “a small town with no future and one stoplight,” Slam Donahue felt they had to move to NYC. Focusing on songwriting and their devotion to melody, the band signed to Cantora Records and just kept on writing, winning critical praise and an ever-growing audience. The songwriting team of David Otto and Thomas Sommerville have developed a style of anthemic pop inspired equally by Bowie and the Beatles that has a way of tricking a listener into singing along before they even know the words. Relatable lyrics, familiar chords progressions, and a heavy helping of oohs and aahs make it all work nicely. For this episode of BTR Live Studio, the band left their comfort zone, performing with just an acoustic guitar and piano, and telling stories about the dangers of speedballs, making friends at SXSW, and the culture shock of moving to NYC.
Millionyoung is the Florida-based indie/electronica musical act of Mike Diaz. No matter the form – from DJ to duo to full band – the project covers everything from downtempo chillwave to sunny guitars and upbeat grooves. There’s a straightforward, sweet quality to Diaz’s lyrics and, with his latest batch of songs, things get downright sexy, thanks to the inspiration of soul music. Here, Millionyoung appears as a duo, leaning heavily on keyboard and sampled elements, as well as electric guitar.
Parks are a Boston-based indie pop band formed by songwriter Brian E. King. Leaving behind his previous project, Oranjuly, and enlisting Matt Girard, Liz McBride, Stu Dietz, and Brian Fitch — all of noteworthy Boston-area acts themselves — King’s distinct vocals head up the group’s instantly catchy pop hooks. Fans will hear the new line-up’s fresh songs and sound when their debut full-length record (engineered by Grammy Award-winner Ducky Carlisle) is released later this year. But the band stopped by to preview the new direction for BTR Live Studio and chat with Maia about getting band names wrong and why you should never interview your musical heroes.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Winter People manage a lush and remarkable post-rock/folk sound, creating a charming blend of styles that fits right alongside modern bands like The National, Arcade Fire, and Ra Ra Riot just as well as it might on a tape of appalachian folk songs. Citing the solitude of coming from an island nation as a prerequisite for creativity, here the band offers advice on being a democracy of six people and gives their recommendation for the perfect time to listen to the featured track, “Gallons.”
Based in Doylestown, PA, and featuring members of past BreakThru Radio favorites White Birds and Drink Up Buttercup, Night Panther has added members and gained notoriety for a handful of tracks in the past year, including a cover of Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks.” Assigning their own style the cheeky faux-genre descriptor “sex pop,” in this unique, stripped-down performance — taking the band away from synths and simplifying their setup with just our studio piano — things take a distinct turn towards piano pop.
Denmark’s Choir of Young Believers carries a name and sound worthy of a huge orchestral-pop group on Polyphonic Spree levels, but in reality the band is the brainchild of one Jannis Noya Makrigiannis. In 2006, he left the Copenhagen music scene and moved to the Greek island of Samos, where he began developing his own solo material that eventually evolved into COYB. On a recent tour, the group dropped by our studio to share some songs and Jannis spoke to Maia about transitioning from a solo project to a full band, touring internationally, and more.
Johnny Solomon left his Minneapolis band, Friends Like These, swearing off music, escaping to Wisconsin, and battling addiction before assembling the group that would become Communist Daughter. Aptly sharing their moniker with one of Neutral Milk Hotel’s most concise alt-folk songs, the band also draws comparisons to Bon Iver (not just because of the Wisconsin connection), Mountain Goats (who they covered recently), and even Neil Young. The group sat down with Maia to talk about dealing with rehab, what it means to have a song on a popular TV show, and where inspiration comes from.
Brooklyn duo Cultfever created a world of their own for the songs on their self-titled debut album. Drawing on elements of classic indie rock and pop, their genre-jumping style makes for a satisfying mix of dynamic story songs and unconventional soundscapes. Stopping by to chat with Maia for this episode of Live Studio, Cultfever — performing here as a four-piece — shares some songs and a little about the making of their moody music video for “Knewyouwell.”

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