Zoe Jakes and David Satori of Beats Antique on Elektrafone and working with Alex Grey
Beats Antique (due Saturday, December 3, at the Fillmore Auditorium), a trio made up of producer and show-stealing belly dancer Zoe Jakes and a pair of classically trained multi-instrumentalists, David Satori and Tommy Cappel, has crafted a sound that has roots in dubstep, hip-hop, indie rock and even Middle Eastern music. The act's often primal show includes Jakes and fellow belly dancers wearing animal masks, gyrating and seducing festival crowds across the country. We recently spoke with Satori and Jakes about how touring and buses can create amazing albums and what it's like to never be at a loss for crazy ideas.
Westword: Elektrafone is such a diverse album, with remixes and collaborations from touring partners the Tailor, Glitch Mob and the Toronto-based ill.Gates. What were y'all going through when that album was written?
Zoe Jakes: I feel like a lot of it was being on the road, really, and intensely trying to find creative solutions. Tarran [The Tailor] was with us on tour, so we took advantage of that, with David and Tarran in the back of the bus playing and building songs. We merged the symbiotic nature of touring with recording and trying out the tracks at the shows. It kind of went back and forth. It brought a live element to album, more so than we have had in a while.
David Satori: The stuff we recorded on the bus was actually used. When we were on tour ealier that year, we were in Toronto, and we played some with ill.Gates. Collaborations work with our touring schedule. This album was a culmination of a lot of new music made over the past year. We were experimenting with genres, bringing in electro sounds and experimenting with faster tempos, which was sort of fun.
Talk about your thoughts in opening at the Fillmore last Halloween to headlining your own show there?
DS: We feel like it's a huge deal, and we are excited to step up to the occcasion. The growth is overwhelming at times, but it's like the world is speeding up and we're just holding on. We are also really trying to take care of ourselves. You forget to eat well and take care of yourself. It's really learning to balance your well-being and life. It's overwhelming with excitement.
ZJ: It's kind of like a ride that you hold your breath and just hold on for.
Beats Antique has such a diverse sound; what do you think has led to your success as group?
DS: We are always experimenting, and we all come from a background where we see a lot of different performance art. We have so many ideas, it's hard to think that we could run out. It's hard to logistically top your show and pull off new ideas. Since Zoe and Tommy [Cappel] came from Yard Dogs Road Show and I was from Extra Action Marching Band, we all just have a lot of history and inspiration to draw from and a lot of experience to take from. The one thing we don't have a lack of is crazy ideas.
Any crazy ideas you'd care to share with us?
ZJ: One past crazy idea was when we decided for Valentine's Day to have Cupid or Pegasus. I made these costumes, made David a Pegasus and me the Cupid, remixed a doo-wop song and went flying through the air shooting off confetti cannons.
DS: One of my favorite experiences ever.
I've noticed you've added more dancers over the years to the stage show. In what ways do you plan on growing the Beats Antique performance even more in the future?
ZJ: I know we have talked about and been really wanting to do more video, having more visuals to be a strong supplement to our show. Set design and the fluidity of how the show rolls along is important. Sometimes there will be lots of dancers, or there will be a crazy video show.
On any given song, we can hear traces of hip-hop, dubstep and Middle Eastern sitars infused into one raging dance track. What is your song creation process like, and where do you draw on influence and input?
ZJ: I feel like sometimes its one person's quasi-personal journey. We've gone on our own paths and then we present it to the group. That is, I feel like, how a lot of our songs start. Then we all sink our teeth into them and work them out. One of the recent ways developed as I was talking to the guys for a waltz -- hopefully in Denver -- and the idea was that "a waltz would be really cool." David and Tommy took it out and on a route that I wouldn't have done. Then the ball comes back into my court and I mess around with it..
How does the music coincide with the dance?
ZJ: The music is definitely symbiotic with the dancing at this point.
DS: Sometimes we have a musical idea and create a piece. Then we create the dance later. Other times, well customize the music to the dance.
How did you get linked up with Alex Grey and Tipper for the Denver show?
DS: The promoter put us together and thought we were a good match. We actually met at the Rainbow Serpent festival in Australia, and I talked to him, and he was a fan of our music. When the idea was proposed to him, he was into it, so to think that seventeen years ago, when I was in high school, I was into his art, and then meet him and now get to collaborate with him is amazing. He is a huge inspiration and an amazing artist. It wasn't planned, but we were just asked to do this and couldn't pass it up.