Organic and Electronic, Heavy Bass and Belly Dancing

What do you get when you mix live electro and belly dancing? Antique Beats.

The trio, consisting of David Satori, Tommy Cappel and Zoe Jakes, fuse the sounds of Middle Eastern, Gypsy, hip-hop, dub reggae and other world music with electronic tracks to produce visceral beats for dance performance. Jakes builds on these elements, blending his world famous tribal belly dancing skills with tango, hip-hop and Indian dance.

The Beats formed in 2007 in San Francisco, California, and have since released three self-produced albums and two EPs featuring original songs. The Beats are scheduled to play 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 presence at the festival.

SM: Can you tell us a bit about how you got started?

TC: We originally started as a recording project. Zoe had this opportunity to make a belly dancing album. She had that opportunity and put me and David on board and that’s how it started. We never thought we would be performing.

SM: What made you decide to start playing live?

TC: Our friends do a lot of electronic music nights and little festivals on the west coast, and they were telling us about a lot of people mixing our music. They started hiring us as DJs. We slowly started adding our live instruments to it.

SM: When you started DJing, did you always focus on performance art or was it something that developed later?

TC: Yeah, Zoe was always dancing with us.

SM: I know you and Zoe played with the Yard Dog Road Show, how did that experience shape the Beats Antique?

TC: I was part of this group for nine years. I was the drummer and helped write a lot of material. I brought in Zoe as a belly dancer for this project. In addition, she also started performing burlesque with a troupe. It definitely had something to do with how Beats Antique started because we were both 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 how this relationship developed and did it influence Beats Antique?

TC: He didn’t really work with Femi. Basically, they played a few gigs together in Africa. Aphrodesia, David’s band before Beats Antique, was an African band. They went to West Africa and toured West Africa. Femi saw them when they were in Nigeria and brought them to Fela shrine, Fela Kuti shrine. And basically Femi came out and played some songs with them for the two shows they did.

SM: How did you meet Jamie Janover, and what was his involvement with the band?

TC: I met Jamie Janover in Wakarusa actually when the Yard Dogs were playing there. He was always a good friend and he played in a band called Lynx, Lynx and Janover. Lynx and I wrote a song together, and we included our bands in that song. Besides, 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 worked with John Popper on your album blind threshold. How did this 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 asked if he wanted to sit with us. He said of course. So he played a tune with us at one of our gigs there and had a great time. We ended up getting along pretty well. And then later in the year, when we were sorting out our album, we decided to ask him if he wanted to sit on the song for the recording, and he said yes. We sent a sound engineer to his house and recorded him playing a song. They sent it to us. We cut it all out and made it happen.

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