You know a Beats Antique song when you hear it. The group has a very unique dance fusion sound that would be tricky to even emulate. Normally, I hate using the term “fusion,” but it’s necessary to describe the musical concoction that Beats Antique manages to create. A smorgasbord of varying sounds – the group funnels all of their personal music palettes together resulting in an electronic tribal sound that is ridiculously catchy. Oh, and did I mention they have a full-time belly dancer in their ranks?
I was shocked to discover that the group only consists of three members: multi-instrumentalist David Satori, percussion extraordinaire Tommy Cappel, and sultry Zoe Jakes, a mesmerizing belly dancer. Satori boasts a degree in music performance and composition from the California Institute of the Arts. Cappel is a proud grad as well with a degree in studio drumming from the iconic Berklee College of Music in Boston. Jakes didn’t start belly dancing until 2000, but she already had over 10 years of jazz and ballet dance experience under her belt.
The group originated from the Bay Area in 2007 when Jakes asked her manager Miles Copeland (brother of drummer Stewart Copeland of The Police) about creating what ended up becoming the group’s debut, Tribal Derivations. The album was developed to complement Jakes’ dancing styles, while she also had a hand in production duties as well. A Middle Eastern-influenced sound is one of the last you’d expect to find in the electronic music scene, but Beats Antique are pros about balancing their musical inspirations.
They’re no slouches when it comes to releasing music either – the group has recorded a new album every year since their ’07 inception. Last year’s release, Blind Threshold was their most mature, realized sound to date with a firm grip on defining their musical niche. I can’t help but think of a snake charmer every time I hear “Egyptic,” which sounds like Skrillex’s audio take on the country. The album’s WTF cameo goes to John Popper of Blues Traveler, who lends his unmistakable harmonica skills on “There Ya Go.”
Last month, Beats Antique released their newest effort, Elektraphone, which expands on their world fusion sound by incorporating a bigger dose of modern electro-ness. The album’s opening track, “Cat Skillz,” is a great example of this with its warm, bubbling synth, sounding like a vibrant dance party for a multitude of cultures by the track’s end. The group even (successfully) funded their new music video for the song using the newest up-start craze, Kickstarter. “Siren Song” is another album highlight as it takes a turn for the dark with its eerie violin and delicate, yet brooding piano notes. Cappel’s drumming on “Swagger (With the Tailor)” is infectious and showcases his precise, tactful skills wonderfully – the drum roll during the song’s intro sounds like the musical score for an old West shootout. All-in-all, the album shows that while Beats Antique may have a specific, niche sound (that they are consistently expanding upon), they are far from a musical one-trick pony.
Beats Antique are currently in the midst of a national tour supporting the album, which I encourage anyone and everyone to attend as the group are notorious for their elaborate live performances.