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Beats Antique: the jam band of electronic music

Tim Parsons
"West Coast bass meets gypsy belly dance when Beats Antique plays Friday, Jan. 20, in the MontBleu Theatre.
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Beats Antique, the last time it played in the MontBleu Theatre, opened for Les Claypool.

“I’ve seen Beats Antique play,” Claypool said before the show. “They’re cool. They’ve got an interesting vibe. It’s a throwback, steam punk but sort of trancey groove styling. Not that I know what I’m talking about.”

Beats Antique has collaborated with, and been endorsed by, many artists.

“I think they’re happy to see electronic music that has live instruments in it, too,” said drummer Tommy Cappel. “They’ve gotten used to seeing crazy DJs at festivals and I think they look at us as the jam band of electronic music. They understand what we’re doing and see it as pushing the boundaries of electronic music.”

Belly dancer Zoe Jakes put the core of the band – herself, Cappel and David Satori – together in 2007 when they made an album produced by Miles Copeland, the manager of the Police, and the brother of that band’s drummer, Stewart.

“Belly dance music at that time was experimental electronic music and it left a lot of room for us to do whatever we wanted to,” Satori said. “We didn’t feel too constricted. So we made an album, and me and Tommy got to know each other. We’ve been following it ever since. A lot of the bands, it’s been like pushing the bus from behind, and we haven’t really pushed as much, – we’ve just been holding on.”

The names of some those bands they’ve been with reveals the creativity behind Beats Antique: Electric Pinata, Enormous Sidecar, Breakfast with Enor, the Funnies and the Yard Dogs Road Show. Cappel said a career highlight was performing in a sold-out Hollywood Bowl with a 35-piece Extra Action Marching Band and David Byrne to “Burning Down the House.”

Cappel was trained in classical music and performed in symphonies until he studied modern jazz at the Berklee School of Music. His life-altering epiphany came at the Burning Man Festival, which he has annually attended – twice with Beats Antique – since 1998.

Satori grew up playing jazz and rock before attending the California Institute of the Arts where he studied composition, guitar and world music with teachers from all over the globe, including Bali and West Africa.

Beats Antique has a couple of EPs and four full-length albums, including “Elektrafone” released on Oct. 4. In a departure from the previous records, the percussion was the first part recorded for “Elektrafone.”

“Previously I would record live drums as they were needed as opposed to recording them first,” Cappel said. “I think it represents our live sound more. Experimenting keeps it fun for the audience and for us as well. We keep reinventing ourselves.”

Cappel and Satori described Beats Antique.

“West Coast bass meets gypsy belly dance,” Cappel said.

“There are a lot of influences mixed together from all around the world – eclectic electronica,” Satori said.

Beats Antique for the Tahoe show will include baratone saxophone and clarinet player Sylvain Carton and dancer Auberon Shull.

Organizers for the fourth annual Wanderlust Festival, to be held July 26-29 at Squaw Valley USA, announced Tuesday Beats Antique will perform.


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