Beats Antique Interview: Animal Heads, Sexy Girls And Heavy Bass
Beats Antique are not your typical band, and they’re not your typical DJs, and they’re not your typical dance troupe, although you could argue they belong to each of those categories. They don’t make world music, and they don’t make dubstep, and they don’t make beautiful musical movements of a classical variety, but they do.
Beats Antique does it all, and they do it with flair.
Their set at Hangout Music Fest was awesome and definitely earned them some new serious fans. Thousands of kids packed into a tent under the hot sun, transported to some other place by the trio’s worldly mix of live instrumentation, electro-banger backdrops and hypnotic belly-dancing. What’s not ill about that?
I caught up with Tommy Cappel the next day, the third of the group who was banging it out proper on the drums during their manic and mystical set, and he agreed the band had just taken their fanbase to the next level.
“We haven’t played down this far … it felt really good to have so much support,” Cappel said of the show. “We didn’t really know what to expect but everybody was jamming out … That’s what you want out of a festival, you want to expose yourself. You want to get some exposure.”
The crowd that day was really feelin’ it, and Cappel and the gang noticed for sure. The bands you watch really do appreciate the enthusiasm.
“When you tell people to clap, and then they clap. Honestly, you yell out ‘make some noise’ and they do, that’s when you know things are good,” he said.
They played another set that night, a rarer-for-them DJ set opening for Bassnectar to a wittled-down audience (Hangout charged extra for late-night access). Bassnectar is actually a long-time friend of the group, having worked with them on circus-themed track Roustabout. Cappel said it was fun getting to play with him, if not a bit daunting to open for the guy twice in one day.
If you’re unfamiliar with Beats Antique, let me break it down for you. Two guys with extensive musical backgrounds, Cappel and David Sattori, team up with enigmatic dancer Zoe Jakes to blend genres, backgrounds and mediums into something wholly original and intriguing.
They make bassy dance music tinged with musical flavors from all over the world and add in a little bit of performance art for good measure. Besides cueing up their original, electronic productions, the guys add in banjo, violin, synths, drums, etc., which brings the music to life in a way a regular DJ crew just can’t.
“I think the natural progression for a musician is to go through the normal rock band, then get into jazz and move towards world music,” Cappel said. “For me it’s been like that, but at the same time I’ve followed hip hop and electronic music … We’re experimenting with world music and cultural music, we’re experiencing with electronic music.”
Not to mention there’s a beautiful woman changing sexy costumes every three or so songs, banging on a marching band drum or writhing sensually to the beat, getting the whole crowd caught up in the feverish rhythms. I kept thinking, Jakes may be the sexiest hypeman in existence, er, hypewoman.
“That’s her personality coming through,” Cappel said. “It’s a key element to our performance, but it’s also a key element to the personality of the band. I think that having a hypwoman is really cool and it helps. She’s like the lead singer of the band but we don’t have any singer.”
But it’s not all about sexy babes and hot dance floors. Beats Antique is bigger than that.
“Our dream is to be able to help people through our music,” he said. “Whether it’s just their spirit or actually monetarily helping them and creating things for people.”
The group has released a few tracks on their website, the money from which goes towards helping people in need, like the people of Haiti or Japan. Cappel said they’ve already raised about $5,000-7,000 dollars in their efforts.
But just when you thought things were getting too heady, when the whole vibe of a show starts to get too serious and lofty, Beats Antique goes and puts on some crazy, realistic animal head masks to blow your effing mind and make you giggle.
The story goes, they found these animal masks in Hawaii, like a penguin and a zebra and a bear, and they figured this would be a perfect way to stimulate the crowd and break down some barriers, generally freak people out.[box] “It made the crowd kinda go crazy,” he said. “You go from this beautiful woman dancing amazingly to really pretty music, to really heavy dubstep weirdness with animals. It doesn’t make any sense but it really works.”[/box]
Beats Antique doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s the overall message. They’re always trying to lighten the mood like that, bringing people up on stage, getting them to be a part of the whole experience. It’s what they do, and they admire it in other artists, too, like the Flaming Lips or Primus. Bands that push the stage-set boundaries.
“We’ve gotten people to do some really embarrassing, fun things,” he said. “It just hightens the experience. We’re not going to stop that side of it.”
And with one, possibly two EPs set to be released this year, it doesn’t seem like Beats Antique is going to stop anything. One of those EPs is set to be a collaboration with some yet-to-be-announced badass of the electro, dance music world.
“I think the fans are gonna go really crazy over it,” he said. “I can’t wait to be able to announce that.”
Besides that, they’re working on a full-length album to be released in spring. Seriously, these guys never stop writing music. But no one is complaining. Listen to it already!
Beats Antique – Egyptic
Beats Antique – Roustabout (Bassnectar Remix)