Our latest custom collaboration is with none other than Beats Antique, the legendary trio comprised of David Satori, Zoe Jakes and Tommy "Sidecar" Capel. Over ten (!!) albums in, Beats Antique is known for their layered and dynamic live shows, always driven by Zoe and her cohort of dancers and often incorporating other artists' creations to set the vibe.
Serious OGs of world music and electronic fusion, it was our pleasure to collab with Beats Antique on a custom run of merch for their latest tour and to chat with Tommy and David while the band was in town for their Portland date. Read on for their insight on the evolution of the electronic music scene, where they drew inspiration for their Grand Bizarre tour and how they keep things fresh after creating together for over a decade.
Chris with the band ahead of their show at the Crystal Ballroom.
Rythmatix: The tour is called The Grand Bizarre. How did you come up with that name and what does it mean?
Tommy: Well it’s kind of a play on the Grand Bazaar in Turkey, in Istanbul.
David: There’s this massive, famous marketplace called the Grand Bazaar. We were kind of thinking the Grand Bizarre– this very big, weird happening. Which is what we are.
Tommy: So it’s bizarre like strange. It’s also the first song in our show and it’s a throwback to sort of a remix 808 circus track. It’s pretty dope. It’s got more a burlesque feel to the dance performance.
R: Speaking of dance, obviously Zoe is an incredible dancer. I had the pleasure of attending her Bellydance Tarot Opera in New Orleans a few years back. How does having her particular style of dance so central to the ethos of the group influence the way you make music?
T: The nature of Zoe’s dance styles highlight many different cultures and traditions–similar to the diversity of Bass music/EDM genres. Beats Antique highlights creative ways of combining styles and genres to induce an energy that is born from collaborative combinations of rhythm and melody that are tied to that same movement style of Zoe’s unique choreography.
R: I know in the past you have incorporated the creations of different visual artists into the stage design for your live shows. I'm thinking of Hybycozo's space lanterns on your Shadowbox tour. Are there particular artists that you're excited to have contribute to the vibe for Grand Bizarre?
T: We collaborated with Christina Molcino of Black Lotus Clothing and Shrine, a multiform eco centered reusable artist. For the Grand Bizarre stage show, we incorporated colorful hand-painted parasols situated around the stage and backdrop.
R: We hand print everything in house because the process continually inspires and informs the evolution of Chris' art. So many ideas stem from the process itself. Considering that y'all have been performing at festivals and touring for longer than most, I'm curious how the act of performing itself informs the evolution of your art?
T: Every performance has its own variables that can come from many different places. In the beginnings of Beats Antique, we had to address the fact that our show includes dancers and performance art aspects that need to be able to safely perform on stage. The evolution of Beats Antique’s creative endeavors have challenged us to come up with ways to execute a unique performance within the confines of what a sound stage generally does at a festival or venue.
A memorable one was this last summer at Red Rocks. Zoe does an act where she balances a pot on her head. This moment in our show creates a spectacle, at this particular show, we were dealing with the adversity of nature’s will. Zoe was able to use the high winds as a fun way to expand the difficulty level of the performance! We are constantly modifying our creative ideas to be able to execute on a big stage with many different adversities present. With each show, there a long list of things we must do differently than the last show!
R: I’m also curious about changes since you first started. Not just with your music, but with the industry.
D: I would say watching the electronic music scene blow up, that was really wild, and being part of that. But having our feet in both worlds, being the live electronic act and then the electronic live act in certain areas, and then watching Bassnectar, our friend who we were doing little clubs with, start selling out multiple nights at arenas. It’s totally crazy. And all the young producers that are under them that have blown up.
T: To go further with what David said, it used to be just a small little community of people who all hang out at Burning Man. We’d run around and play some shows outside of there. Now with music representation on the internet– where you can finally monetize off digital downloads and things like that– has really helped younger producers find music that previously wouldn't have been distributed, and actually just sign themselves up and make their own music and do their own thing. They’re internet savvy growing up with the internet always. We didn’t grow up with it. That in itself is a huge support network, which is amazing, and they’re taking advantage of it fully and I 100% support it. I’ve heard some crazy music that would have been impossible to make it with at one point in my life. Now there’s so much of it it’s almost hit the saturation point, but I think that also allows for a lot of competition and pushes people, and the internet itself allows you to actually try to get more people aware of your stuff.
S: The amount of media people take in now has skyrocketed. An album gets lost in a week… The art of the singles is coming out. We’re going to start releasing our music as just more singles and allowing that to breathe, which is really fun to do. It’s less pressure on an album and lets each song have its moment, instead of needing to pile it all together. The album is still beautiful, but it seems like people are more into playlists, diversity, want to change it up more.
R: You guys have been creating together for a looong time. Do you get bored? How do you keep things fresh?
T: Beats Antique has been together for over a decade. In this time we have been inspired by our fans and the vast pool of emerging artists, producers and performers to continually expand on our creativity, building on the foundation that gives Beats Antique the vibe we are known for.
Our fans give us feedback in real-time while we are performing on stage. We can feel how these ideas translate, which keeps us on our toes to continue creating this unique blend of visual and sonic entertainment.
Really the name of the game for us lately is to increase our merch and diversity of products. Come up with packages that as a whole are an artistic vision, from us, including releasing maybe some of the old records that we we haven’t had vinyl for for years. Doing a vinyl release and a merch package that goes with it and just being creative on that end. As the internet promotion thing's happening more and more, we realized that some of the old school art that we love, that model is disappearing but we still want it to be around… It’s not just music and not just shows, it’s a bunch of different things. So we’re brainstorming a lot of ideas and stoked that there are platforms available to artists like us to even try stuff. 🌀
Shop the range of new Beats Antique merch designed and printed by Rythmatix over on their site!
Live show shots c/o Beats Antique. All merch photos c/o gnarpony.