What do you get when you mix live electronica and belly dancing? Beats Antique.
The trio, composed of David Satori, Tommy Cappel and Zoe Jakes, fuse together Middle Eastern, Gypsy, hip-hop, dub reggae and other world music sounds with electronic tracks to produce visceral beats for the dancing performance. Jakes builds on these elements, blending her world-renowned tribal belly-dancing skills with tango, hip-hop and Indian dance.
The Beats formed in 2007 in San Francisco, Calif., and since then have released three self-produced albums and two EPs with original songs. The Beats are slated to play at more than 10 festivals this summer, including Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Lollapalooza, Hangout Music Festival, Camp Bisco, High Sierra Music Festival and Electric Forest Festival.
Here Cappel discusses the band’s influences, collaborations and festival presence.
SM: Can you talk a little bit about how you guys got started?
TC: We originally started as a recording project. Zoe got this opportunity to do a belly-dancing album. She got that opportunity and put me and David on board and that’s how it started. We never thought we’d be performing live.
SM: What made you guys decided to start performing live?
TC: Our friends have a lot of electronic music parties and little festivals out on the West Coast, and they were telling us about a lot of people who were DJing our music. They started hiring us to DJ. We started slowly adding our live instruments to it.
SM: When you started out DJing, did you always have an emphasis on performance art or was that something that developed later?
TC: Yeah Zoe would always dance with us.
SM: I know both you and Zoe played with the Yard Dog Road Show, how did that experience shape the Beats Antique?
TC: I was in that band for nine years. I was the drummer and helped write a lot of material. I brought Zoe in as a belly dancer for that project. Also, she started doing burlesque as well with a troupe. That definitely had something to do with how Beats Antique got started because we both were in that band. But really it’s just the fact that there was a performer that there was the similarity. The music is completely different.
SM: I know that David worked with Femi Kuti. Do you know anything about how that relationship developed and did it have any influence on the Beats Antique?
TC: He didn’t really work with Femi. Basically they played a couple of shows together in Africa. Aphrodesia, David’s band before Beats Antique, was an African band. They went to West Africa and did a tour around West Africa. Femi saw them when they were in Nigeria and brought them to the shrine of Fela, Fela Kuti’s shrine. And basically Femi came out and played a few songs with them for the two shows that they did.
SM: How did you guys meet Jamie Janover, and what has been his involvement with the band?
TC: I met Jamie Janover back at Wakarusa actually, when the Yard Dogs played there. He’s always been a good friend, and he was playing in a band called Lynx, Lynx and Janover. Lynx and I wrote a song together, and we included our bands in that song. And then he’s just a good friend. He booked a lot of shows for us like the Sonic Bloom festival, and then they played a bunch of shows with us in Colorado.
SM: I know you guys worked with John Popper on your album Blind Threshold. How did that collaboration come about?
TC: We met John Popper at South by Southwest last year in 2010 and we share the same manager. We were introduced and we asked him if he wanted to sit in with us. He said sure. So he played a track with us during one of our shows there and had a good time. We ended up getting along pretty well. And then later on in the year when we were sorting out our album, we decided to ask him if he wanted to sit in on the song for the recording, and he said yes. We sent a recording engineering out to his house and recorded him playing a track. They sent it to us. We cut it all up and made it happen.