Since 2007, Bay Area jack-of-all-trades band Beats Antique has been tearing its way through to another realm of musical consciousness. The trio — comprised of David Satori, Zoe Jakes, and Tommy Cappel — has garnered fame by infecting bass seekers with world-fusion electronic beats combined with astounding theatrical performances. Heavily influenced by eastern culture, Beats Antique’s infectious tribal basslines provide the backdrop for Zoe’s seductive belly dance routines.
MVRemix spoke with Beats Antique about the beats, the process, and of course, Zoe.
MVRemix: Let’s start with who Beats Antique is. Your music has a lot of different sounds to it, obviously Bhangra beats, hip hop, jazz, dubstep. For someone just getting to know Beats Antique, what kind of music would you say influences your sound the most?
David: I think one of our heaviest influences is definitely eastern culture, which can be from India all the way to the Middle East, to eastern Europe. I just think the East in general is one of our biggest influences and electronic music. So you know, eastern electronic music or world electronic or acoustic electronic. There are different names for it. It’s sort of a new-forming genre, you know, and we’re trying to break down a lot of barriers in the music we play, so it’s hard to categorize sometimes.
MVRemix: You guys have said that the name Beats Antique celebrates the beats in electronic music and is also a throwback to old styles of music that you incorporate into your sounds. But I think Beats Antique is anything but antique– you guys are, in a way, spearheading a whole new genre of world fusion performance dance music. How does it feel to be at the front of that?
David: Performance art has had a big influence on who we are. Whether it’s creating a song for a choreography or for Zoe or the troupe. You know, thinking of music differently– it’s not in a vacuum, it’s not just for listening, it’s for the dance. And so music, when thought about that way gets created differently, you know?
MVRemix: How much does Zoe’s dancing style influence the music, vice versa, or both? Who’s the chicken and who’s the egg?
Zoe: Well, it’s kind of a funny thing ‘cause we always work differently. We don’t really have a set way of doing things. Sometimes we make the music first and then you know, sometimes there will be more of a request for me. A lot of the time the three of us are working together in the studio, and there have been moments of a dance coming together when I hear the sketch that someone’s created, and I’ll work on arrangements with them. So it’s very back-and-forth, depending on where we are creatively.
MVRemix: So you have a big say in the music and the sound then.
Zoe: I don’t produce as much as these guys do, but I am a producer and I do produce tracks and definitely part of making the music for sure. I especially do a lot of arranging.
MVRemix: So, when you guys aren’t on stage, are you still dancing, Zoe?
Zoe: Sometimes I’ll be at the computer arranging, or you know, Tommy will be showing us some new skeletons for one of his pieces and I’ll start moving around a little bit, and I’ll be like, “wow I really like the way this works.” So yeah, that for sure has happened. Like during an arrangement or making a song, I’ll be like, “No guys, it doesn’t sound like that, it sounds like this.”
MVRemix: You guys are always thinking about the music and performance aspect in conjunction with each other—one wouldn’t be what it is without the other?
Zoe: Absolutely, I would say that’s a really good way of looking at it. And sometimes the dance influences it more and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s about making the audience move, you know, and it’s not about performance, it’s just about tracks that really affect people and make them want to dance. So it’s so all over the place.
Tommy: I’d also like to just add sometimes when we’re in the studio we’ll be workin’ on something, I look over and Zoe will just start moving a part of her body, and I’m like ok, good, she likes it. And then a couple minutes later she’ll be like, “Ok, you gotta put a break there, do this here, do this there.” She’s got more of that mind going on, whether she’s choreographing something to the track or if it’s for the audience. There are a lot of times where we’re all sort of conscious of all of the aspects. From a making music standpoint, it’s a totally different way of doing it, but it makes it a lot more fun.
MVRemix: So am I correct in saying Zoe’s dancing is kind of the barometer for measuring whether a piece is gonna work or not?
Tommy: [laughs] Yeah, totally.
MVRemix: I know that your older work was more oriented toward traditional belly dancing music and then evolved into more electro-centered beats. Do you think you’re a different band from then to now.
Tommy: Yeah, I think we’ve just figured out what we do together, you know, like we were just scratching the surface at the beginning when we came together. And now we know what we can make together and we know that we have a lot ahead of us as well. We know there are a lot of frontiers that we haven’t explored. We found this sound and this cohesiveness that has developed over the past four years.
MVRemix: You guys are looking to evolve, but I mean, you guys already have it all—what’s ahead that you haven’t covered yet?
David: We’re actually looking at a lot of things. We haven’t done much with like, South American music, Mexican music. We haven’t really delved into some other regions. I think those are really important, and also West African, more just like African Styles. There’s a lot of things out there, you know? The live aspect is always taken into consideration, when we’re making songs now, it’s like how are we gonna perform this. Also, bringing extra people around that play those instruments to get the live vibe out there, too.
MVRemix: Ok, shifting gears. Who hasn’t Beats Antique worked with that they would like to?
David & Zoe: Ratatat!
MVRemix: Oh man, Ratatat and Beats Antique would be amazing, Last words?
Zoe: Just… Thank you!