Elastic Bond singer Sofy Encanto experienced a moment of clarity in February, as her funk-fusion band lay bunched up under a poorly assembled tent pooling with rainwater. With hours to go before set time at the Virginia Key Grassroots Festival, Encanto, camping out with her bandmates near the festival grounds, realized the band usually found itself on "crazy adventures" such as this one.
Then, in June, it got crazier. The 9-year-old Miami band signed to its first record label, Sony imprint Nacional Records, in a month that also saw the release of its third album, "Real," and the announcement that Elastic Bond would perform at New York's Latin Alternative Music Conference in July.
How did that happen? Call it a chemical reaction.
"It was beyond funny for us. To go from sleeping in the water to this?" the Honduran singer-songwriter says. "We call ourselves elastic because our music stretches out to different cultures and parts of the world. We do it with a unified sound, a common rhythm, like chemistry."
Encanto is hardly kidding about the elasticity of the band's sound, which she dubs "tropical soul." The bilingual "Real" (pronounced in Spanish with "a heavy trilling of the 'R,' " she says with a laugh), pulls into its 12 tracks a warbling, retro-funk punched with bossa nova, Afro-Cuban grooves and the brassy rhythms produced by David Burgos' trumpet and flugelhorn. (Elastic Bond will perform at an album-release party for "Real" on Friday at PAX Miami.)
Midway through the album, to use another example, the core lineup of Encanto, Burgos, guitarist Buffalo Brown and keyboardist-producer Andres Ponce layers in old-school hip-hop to tracks such as "Back to Basics," before the next song, "Nada Mas," becomes a tight landscape of pop-electronica and voice-modulated synths.
"We go with the feeling of each song without trying to produce a precise sound," explains Encanto, briefly interrupted when her 10-year-old son, Yorel, makes a noise in the background. "I present ideas to Andres in Spanish or English, and he'll choose a beat. So I think the magic happens because we're not doing a lot of planning."
The band's life outside the recording studio, however, is a tightly scheduled process. Encanto, pulling two day jobs teaching vocal lessons to children and working in an acupuncture clinic, would leave home to network at the Latin Alternative Music Conference. Plugging away in New York attracted the ears of the acid-jazz dance band Los Amigos Invisibles, who helped add Elastic Bond to the conference's official compilation album. And now that the band has a label, Encanto and company will be away from home even longer, performing in Los Angeles and at a handful of summer music festivals.
"We know the music is worth it, so our attitude is 'take it to the road,' " she says. "We're feeling in a state of transition. The doctors I work with tease me with, 'We're going to have to find a replacement, Sofy!' But everything is flowing tremendously awesome, and we're grateful."
When: 10 p.m. Friday, July 5
Where: PAX Miami, 337 SW Eighth St., Miami
Contact: 305-640-5847 or PAXMiami.com