The eclectic, electronic crew talk Voodoo, bounce music, and their latest album, "A Thousand Faces-Act I."
“Last night’s show blew our minds,” claims Tommy Cappel and David Satori, members of the San Francisco-based electronic group, Beats Antique. It’s only been a week since the start of their latest “A Thousand Faces Tour,” but the trio, including belly dancer Zoe Jakes, couldn’t be more excited to show off what has been their most recent obsession.
“I feel like, for the first time, we are really looking at our audiences and saying ‘We care about you,’” Cappel says.
Based on Joseph Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey, the show immerses audience members into a multi-media spectacular, combining interactive video and over-the-top props with live music and stage performance. Songs from their new album, similarly titled A Thousand Faces-Act I, chronicle each stage of the hero’s journey. “This production is a fully collaborative show,” claims Satori. “It’s this whole set design and video map adventure that we get to take the crowd on.”
Beats Antique are no strangers to pushing the envelope. Their music alone defies genre-classification, fusing Middle Eastern belly dance music with funk, jazz, hip-hop and electronic samples. They have also developed a reputation for their energetic, live shows, often accompanied by some form of on-stage performance art. With such an emphasis on performance, it’s hard to believe that the group started merely as a recording project. “Zoe put the team together to make this long record, funded by Miles Copeland, the manager of The Police,” says Cappel. “That came out back in 2007, it was meant to just be a recording project but people kept buying it and wanted to see us live, so we put together a show for them and started making new records.” Satori adds, “We did it because it was something cool to do, something fun and musically inspiring, but the crowd stayed with us and they have always kind of dictated what comes next, which is a fun way to do it. I had never been involved in a project like that before.”
Eight albums later, Beats Antique are enjoying the height of their success, selling out venues and headlining festivals, including this year’s Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. “We love New Orleans,” says Satori. “We go at least once a year. Zoe and Tommy’s old band, Extra Action Marching Band, a crazy punk-rock kind of marching band, actually performed at Voodoo Fest back in 2008, which was my first time at the festival.” The trio especially admires the local music scene. “We love the sissy bounce, underground culture,” claims Satori. “Katey Red is a beast. It’s ridiculous. She has always opened up for us when we come out.” Cappel adds, “She usually comes in and sits in with us, does some freestyle stuff. And then we’ll play a track of hers and play along with it.” The group has even begun collaborating with bounce legend, Big Freedia, on a new track. “We just love getting weird with them,” says Satori, “It’s fun.” In addition to bounce, the crew draws inspiration from city’s jazz legends and second-line, parade culture. “New Orleans has always been a big part of our culture and a representation of what we love. It’s just got such a great spirit.”
Although the members of Beats Antique will soon begin prepping for the record’s sequel, A Thousand Faces-Act II, for now, they are content simply enjoying the ride. “This record has been a totally new approach for us, a totally new method of production, a totally new way of putting it all together as producers and musicians,” says Cappel. “And then you add in the stage performance which actually goes hand in hand with the record for the first time. It’s been an incredible undertaking that has really challenged us. There’s been ups and downs, and a lot of just saying, ‘Fuck it, let’s go for it.’ It’s been an artistic, mind-blowing experience.”
Beats Antique play the Le Plur Stage at Voodoo Sunday at 6 p.m.