Watching Beats Antique perform is more than just a concert—it’s an experience.
The experimental-electronic band, formed in 2007, has traveled the globe to bring aspects of various cultures together to create a dynamic and worldly album, Shadowbox, set for release on Oct. 5.The latest work from the trio—David Satori, Zoe Jakes and Tommy Cappel—is an exciting combination of electronic dance music and traditional sounds from around the world, made possible through collaboration and longstanding friendships with American and foreign artists.
Beats Antique’s sound is modern and familiar—something a DJ might turn up to get the party started—while simultaneously complex and intriguing, setting them apart from the other electronic bands that grace all the best Spotify playlists. They truly take electronic music a step further while incorporating the buzzing rhythms and the anticipated drops intrinsic to EDM, Beats Antique embraces and relies on the uniqueness of global music. On stage, they DJ and play a variety of instruments: saxophone, violin, banjo and drums.
Jakes, a trained ballet and jazz dancer, adds an entirely new aspect to the band’s performance. She has extensive experience as a belly dancer and her elaborate routines—complete with jingling bells, dramatic makeup and skilled dancing in time with the beat—hypnotize the audience. She often choreographs her own routines.
“And then there’s the visual aspect, where Zoe is a creator and so on it,” Cappel says in a recent interview. “She’s an amazing dancer, holds a lot of presence on stage. It’s meaningful to watch and experience.”
To further enhance the performance, the band has partnered with HYBYCOZO, a company based in San Francisco specializing in elaborate paper lanterns that are cut with patterns and geometrical designs. These lanterns will decorate the stage as Beats Antique performs during their tour, adding another element to the band’s already visually stunning setup. When they perform at the Orpheum Theater, concert-goers will hardly notice that they are still in the little Arizona mountain town.
“We like to have fun when we perform, and make the audience feel like they’re somewhere special and different,” Cappel says.
In a way, Beats Antique takes the audience on a stimulating journey with their music. From the invigorating, danceable music to the spectacle on stage, it is an overwhelming show—in the best way possible.
Shadowbox was influenced by the band’s travels across the Atlantic to Tel Aviv, Moscow and London, but also domestic adventures as well. This resulted in an array of songs that might sound slightly familiar to ears listening from a number of cities around the world.
Cappel’s excitement is apparent. He shares that the band’s van recently broke down—as their tour was quickly approaching—and he was in the middle of deciding whether to rent or buy another vehicle. Even though this could potentially present a serious obstacle for the group, his positive attitude is hardly affected and he eagerly describes the band’s most recent work. He reminisces on the band’s travels fondly.
“On this [album], we go deeper into the genres we’re covering,” he says. “Before we would do an aspect of a genre, where as this one is more authentic.”
Beats Antique recorded samples on site. In Russia, they met a woman who sang in a traditional folk language. With her help, they made the song “Three Sisters,” to which Jakes choreographed a dance. In Tel Aviv, they met with a group of Israeli musicians to record “Le Refuge.”
“Part of the session had this beautiful memorable part—it was the first time we understood a local’s perspective of what is going on there and how that is affecting people there,” Cappel says.
In this way, Shadowbox is able to touch on heavy topics like conflict and political strife, in a way that is equally conscientious and creative. They are able to incorporate the voices of people who are experiencing these issues first-hand, bringing the discussion straight to the dance floor.
“It’s sort of timely because of things that are going on right now in the world. For example, one of the songs on our album is in response to the French attack on the [Bataclan theatre],” Cappel says. “Our stance is that we all want peace in our lives. The song is in French and Arabic, and both are asking for peace.”
One song that truly shines on the album is “Let it All Go,” feature the New Orleans-based Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which has been performing in the French Quarter since the 1960s.
The track opens with a twangy guitar, and then moves into the shiny addition of brass instruments. Listeners can’t help but feel the cheerful energy—jazz and EDM-lovers alike will appreciate the song’s equal appreciation for both genres.
“What are you holding on to? Just let it all go,” sings Ronnell Johnson, the tuba player and vocalist for the jazz band.
And, when you hear the sound of the classic jazz band paired with Beats Antique’s ear for dance music, you might just let it all go and buy a one-way ticket to New Orleans.
“There is some real beauty in that song and some real inspiration there,” Cappel says. “Let’s spread some of the love. Let’s change that s*** up and move on with being happy.”
For Beats Antique, making good music is a commonality for artists across the world. Shadowbox is a collection of songs where geographic distance and language do not present difficulties, but rather opportunities for creative growth and exploration. The album is a merging of music that has been made for generations, combined with the power of technology. This results in something respectful of musical histories, while pushing for radical collaboration and new direction. And as it often tends to do, even if it’s just a tapping toe, Beat’s Antique’s music and live show is guaranteed to get bodies moving.
Catch Beats Antique with opener Thriftworks on Wed, Sept. 28 at the Orpheum Theater, 15 W. Aspen. Doors for the all-ages show open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $27 in advance and $32 the day of the show, and can be purchased in person at Rainbow’s End downtown or online at www.greenhouseproductions.net. For more, call 556-1580 or check out the band’s website at www.beatsantique.com.