Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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Record/Vinyl + Digital Album
Good Future was released in 2012 on CD only. 10 years later, Good Future finally exists on VINYL... in fact, it's a DOUBLE VINYL. Featuring a fresh vinyl remaster, a full side of bonus tracks including original demos and early versions, and an essay by bandleader Miles Francis - this vinyl is a true collector's item. LIMITED EDITION... so make sure you get yours now!
Includes unlimited streaming of Good Future (10th Anniversary Reissue)
via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
There is so much life packed into Good Future; the musicianship, from the most triumphant horn solo to the most understated plucked guitar line; the countless shows that preceded the album’s recording; the crowds that shaped the arcs of our compositions; all of the relationships within EMEFE, some that have deepened over time, others that have morphed into something different or gently faded away; and all of the work writing, rehearsing, and fine-tuning the album. It was all driven by an unshakeable commitment to forward motion and I hear it all every time I listen.
We conceived of Good Future in Greenwich Village (our home base over the years) and recorded it in Brooklyn, but many of the album’s key ideas were actually born in Newcastle, Maine. In the summer of 2011, I traveled there to visit the childhood home of Jas Walton, EMEFE’s tenor saxophone player, who had grown into a close friend. Over one week, we had an absolute flurry of creativity together, churning out song after song with ease. This was the first time I was writing songs with someone else - a major milestone for me - and it was so fun, effortless and exciting. On side 4 of this LP, we’ve included four of our demos from that week: Stutter (Demo), Newcastle Bounce, Greed (Early Version) and Dance Sketch. Newcastle Bounce and Dance Sketch never made it out of the initial demo stage, which is why I am especially excited they are being heard by you now! We’ve also included three more of my early demos - Lucecita, Good Future, and Birthday Man - to provide an insight into the journey an EMEFE song went through before and after I brought it to the band. I would normally use MIDI horns or a small synthesizer when demoing horn ideas (like the Good Future demo, for example), but sometimes I tracked live horns, which kicked the demos up several notches: for the Birthday Man demo I tracked the horn section in my dorm room closet, and on Lucecita, Jas came over to write and record the horn parts on the fly like we did in Newcastle. Whatever the demoing process was, the goal was to best approximate the music I heard in my mind, knowing that there would be a translation when the band played it. Bringing a demo to the band to try out together was always an electrifying and nerve-racking experience. When it worked, I would feel the music light up the room as the band brought a life and spirit to my ideas that transcended what I had imagined. But sometimes the ideas didn’t work, and what I had in my mind needed help in translation. This was a test in patience and optimism about the song’s potential… a test I failed many times! The songs on Good Future worked, though - and they worked well. When I listen to the album today, I remember the feeling of playing those songs for the first time in rehearsals, before we played them for any crowd or recorded them for an album. I remember EMEFE just enjoying the music together with such pure excitement. This band brought me so much joy.
There are some days where I can put on Good Future and take it in as a music lover and fan, letting the music move me exactly as it was intended. Most days, though, there is a lot more that comes up for me when I listen, now having lived and grown for 10 years since its release. I think about EMEFE’s influences - our music grew out of my love for the Afrobeat music of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen, and our music incorporated direct influence from Ghanaian highlife, American neo-soul, Afro-Peruvian music, Congolese soukous, and other African and African-American music genres. With that, I think about EMEFE’s whiteness and maleness. The early years of EMEFE took place in a bubble of privilege - one very much of my own making as the band’s founder who grew up in my own kind of bubble. We were formed in a university jazz program that was overwhelmingly white and male and subsequently entered a New York Afrobeat scene that was dominated by other mostly-white, mostly-male bands. None of this context disqualifies the music we made or the chemistry we had as a band, yet it is necessary and important context to give. Cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation can be thorny subjects for musicians to broach, because musicians just love playing music. They don’t want to challenge what we all have come to know and trust as the “universal language”. I can’t explain why Afrobeat music, of all music, grabbed me with such force and showed me a path to my musical and personal identity. That is strange and magical, no doubt - however there is also a long and complex history of white people falling in love with Black music, studying it deeply, and running with it into a world that inherently deems them more palatable. These two truths can be held together: music is a magical language that connects the world, and music exists in a world where racism and misogyny are woven systemically into our daily lives. If white musicians and bands want to contribute toward a vision of a (good) future where the latter isn’t a reality, we have to confront these things head on in whatever ways we can.
EMEFE is no exception. In 2020, EMEFE pledged a percentage of our annual streaming royalties to the staff of Dagbe Arts Center in Ghana. (A portion of the proceeds from this vinyl release also go to support Dagbe.) I traveled to Dagbe in 2012 in the months before the Good Future recording sessions, and I was deeply inspired by my experience learning Ewe drum and dance with their staff. That inspiration went directly into the recording of this album, and while financial compensation can never truly repay the impact Dagbe had on me, it is one form of concrete acknowledgment that we should’ve made a long time ago. EMEFE always approached our music with a deep appreciation for our influences, but we were not exempt from the forces of the world we were operating in. This is something I was reluctant to name in 2012, but in 2022 I know that not only is it okay to name, but it is essential. I love EMEFE’s music and want to preserve it so it lives on for people to enjoy for decades to come. Taking accountability is a key part of that.
Good Future is a living document of a young band discovering a spark together. I will never forget tracking those songs in a sweaty basement in Ditmas Park, with our engineer/producer Dan Knobler popping in every once in a while to adjust a mic, and then piling into the cramped control room afterwards to pick the best takes. We were all in, all together. The album was the jumping off point for years of transformative live shows, an era of our lives that we will hold with us forever. Now, a decade later, we can reflect on those times with a rosy romanticism and full hearts for how we were able to grow together in such a majestic manner, as well as have honest conversations about the context in which a band like EMEFE exists and thrives. The music has endured for one reason only - the fans. Thank you for listening then, and thank you for listening now. From the opening horn chorale of “Stutter” to the last snare drum hit of “Birthday Man”, there is so much life packed up in Good Future – just waiting to be unpacked.
-Miles Francis Arntzen, July 2022
released January 18, 2023
Produced by Miles Francis and Dan Knobler
All songs performed by EMEFE
Tracks 2, 5, 7, 9 written by Miles Francis
Tracks 1, 4, 6 written by Miles Francis & Jas Walton
Track 3 written by MF, JW & Marcos Garcia
Track 8 written by MF, JW & Gabriel Garzon-Montano
Tracks 10-15 written by MF & JW, track 16 written by MF
Track 4 contains words from an Ewe traditional song called "Eworna Dodo". The lyrics ("Pan pan pan, keteke la kumi eh") describe a moving train - "the train will drive us." Miles was taught the song in 2012 at Dagbe Cultural Institute and Arts Centre in Kopeyia, Ghana. The lyrics' imagery resonated with the song Miles had been writing at the time about moving into an unknown yet exciting future. Thank you to the Agbeli family and the whole staff at Dagbe for the gifts they continue to share with their visitors. Support Dagbe at www.dagbeinstitute.org
Miles Francis Arntzen: drums, percussion, additional keys
Jas Walton: tenor saxophone
Doug Berns: bass
Javier Ramos: congas, percussion
Jake Pinto: Hammond organ, Farfisa, Wurlitzer, synths
Christian Anderson: baritone saxophone
Deen Anbar: guitar
Davy Levitan: guitar
Raymond Mason: trombone
Michael Fatum: trumpet
Billy Aukstik: trumpet (tracks 1, 2, 4, 9)
Chico Mann: lead vocal (track 3)
Gabriel Garzon-Montano: lead vocal (tracks 5, 8)
Luna Garzon-Montano, Le'Asha Julius, George Ross, EMEFE: background vocals (tracks 5, 8)
Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Luna Garzon-Montano, EMEFE: background vocals (track 3)
Phoebe Ryan, Jonathan Seale, EMEFE: background vocals (track 4)
Dan Knobler: quijada, bell (track 5)
CZ1000: Pure Evil (track 5)
Recorded and mixed by Dan Knobler
at Mason Jar Music in Brooklyn, NY
Assistant engineer: Phoebe Ryan
Tracks 10-16 mixing and mastering by David Plowman at Patchwork Sound
Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtletone Studios, NYC
Vinyl mastering by Chris Muth
Original album artwork by Nick Kokkinis
2022 vinyl re-design by Dylan Aiello
supported by 7 fans who also own “Good Future (10th Anniversary Reissue)”
an odd fusion of beauty and bizarre that reinforces both ideals in a jarring, understated resplendence. If you are dropped blindfolded in the midst of this record, you'll find your way home along a new road.