With a knack for turning the classic sounds of Memphis, New Orleans and Muscle Shoals into a soundtrack for any party, anywhere, Boston soul/R&B band The Intrinsics promise to get you on your feet.
The Intrinsics came together in the fall of 2013 in the basement practice rooms beneath the campus of Harvard University. Co-founders Ethan Simon and Rachel Horn, who’d met as fellow jazz hosts at Harvard’s student radio station, had discovered not long into their friendship that they shared a deep love for the timeless soul sounds of 1960s Memphis. It wasn’t hard to convince friends and classmates that what their campus needed was a band that would harness powerful grooves, expressive vocals and hard-hitting horns—and channel it all into a live experience whose noble goal is simply to have you dancing.
Though reverence of Stax Records was the original impulse for The Intrinsics, the band’s influences sprawl across eras and genres. Of course, this includes undisputed soul greats like James Brown, Etta James, Otis Redding and Irma Thomas, but the band also finds inspiration in everything from J. Dilla’s beats to Bruno Mars’s showmanship, along with the work of Boston-bred contemporaries Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed, Lake Street Dive and Jesse Dee.
After a year and a half performing around Harvard square, both on-campus and off, The Intrinsics have built up a loyal fan base of 1,000+ Harvard students and hundreds of Cambridge residents.
The Intrinsics are composed of Harvard and Berklee students with backgrounds ranging across the musical spectrum. They approach covers of well-loved R&B classics and deeper cuts in a way that’s both faithful and inventive. And as of early 2015, they’ve made their first foray into original songwriting with the Simon/Horn-penned tunes “Off the Record” and “Shoulda Known Better,” both of which draw on the playful humor of soul canon authors like William Bell and Joe Tex—as well as the tried-and-true formula of the good, old-fashioned cheating song.