Beats Antique made a splash their first time through Utah last spring. They amazed a very participatory crowd with their hybrid instrumental/electronic dance music and startling live dance and performance. And now they are back for more this weekend.---
Beats Antique is one of the most entertaining and relevant live shows that is currently on the circuit. Bred from Burning Man and adorned in the multi-medium musical/performance/visual art, Beats Antique is leading the charge of their Bay-Area vaudeville and carnival contemporaries.
The other day, I got David Satori – composer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist – and Zoe Jakes – composer, choreographer and dancer – on a conference call to discuss Elektrafone, their fourth album in their four years together, and their continuous collaborations with musicians, filmmakers and performance artists.
City Weekly: The last time I spoke to you was last spring right before an amazing performance at the Depot. Your show shifted my paradigm of what live music can be. Nothing is the same now -- truly jaw-dropping. Thank you. Since then, you’ve returned to Utah/Arizona to the Powellapalooza Music Festival. I missed that festival. How was it?
David Satori: Powellapalooza was in a beautiful location, but it was sort of under-attended. It wasn’t as attended as we thought it would be.
CW: Yeah, that’s too bad. That festival has great potential. Your new album has the trademark Beats Antique sound, but I hear what I think is more Eastern-influenced melodies -- specifically on that strange instrument that you play, David. What is that instrument, exactly?
DS: It’s a Turkish instrument called a saz. Me and my friend built an electric saz.
CW: Well, it’s awesome. Sounds like it could be from Deliverance if the movie took place in pastoral China. So, back to the album, how was your approach to this album different from your others?
DS: We were experimenting with some faster tempos for this one. We’ve been sort of mid-tempo for a while. This album sort of took on a life of its own. We all had a bunch of songs and they sort of fit together. We weren’t like, “Let’s make this overall album like this,” it just sort of had its own flow. It came from a lot of touring and collaborations with other artists like Ill Gates, and we did a remix of the Glitch Mob. Our friend, The Tailor, who’s from Canada and opened up for us our last Salt Lake show, we collaborated with him for a song. So, we have a bunch of collaborations, more than our other ones, and we experimented with some faster-tempo stuff.
CW: I listen to The Tailor all the time because of you guys. I had never heard of him before. Now I listen to him all the time.
DS: Cool, he’s great.
CW: So, Zoe, you dance to most of the songs at live shows. Do the faster tempos influence your dancing much?
Zoe Jakes: Well, it’s not really tempo that affects my style. I feel like it’s the vibe of the song we’re creating and the concepts behind it. It’s more the entire song itself that lends itself to changing my style. Faster tempos, those aren’t really what I think about any more. It’s the overall need of the song or the style of the piece. Are we going to do something theatrical? Or are we going to launch a vote with Bill Clinton masks on over the crowd and shoot spray cannons at them. Are we going to wear animal masks with giant fur costumes and run around like morons? Is this a serious piece? That’s kind of more of what lends itself to how I interpret the music.
CW: I was absolutely amazed by the dance pieces the last time I saw you. They were expertly choreographed and so well executed. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in the ... belly dancing genre? I don’t even know what to call it.
ZJ: Thanks. Belly dancing is part of it. But I’m a ballet dancer and I have a contemporary-dance background and some experience with traditional Indian dance. There are hip-hop styles. I have a lot of traditional influence, it’s not just belly dance, but that is a part of it.
CW: Speaking of dance. I was just checking out my friend Trisha McBride’s Website the other day. Trisha is a local fusion belly dancer and teacher. And I noticed that you’re going to be teaching a session at her studio on Friday afternoon before your show.
ZJ: Yeah, we’re doing a dance workshop. I’ve known Trisha for a long time and she’s fantastic. She’s a great sponsor.
CW: Do you teach dance workshops often when you travel?
ZJ: I do. If I have a buddy in town or a sponsor or someone who’s interested in bringing me in, we just work it out and teach a class. I feel like teaching is a huge part of me as a dancer, sharing the knowledge with people. Sharing with each other is growing as a dancer and is really inspiring for me. So I do it when I can.
CW: I know a lot of local dancers who’d be really interested in your workshop.
ZJ: And, on a side note, there’s another dancer named Frederique who’s going to be teaching in Salt Lake the same weekend, and she is phenomenal. She is an incredible belly dancer and she’s going to be teaching on Saturday.
CW: Excellent, I’ll pass the word. You are obviously collaborating with a lot of musicians and dancers all the time. Speaking of collaborations, I followed your kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a music video for your song, "Cat Skillz." For the video, you are collaborating with Paradox Pollock, an actor/movement coach known for his work on major productions -- Thor and I Am Legend. I noticed that you raised well over the needed $10,000.00. So how’s the video coming along?
ZJ: It is actually past editing stages now and it’s in post production, where we’re doing all that stuff that you don’t think about but is incredibly important, like color correcting and the special effects or the after effects. The work's getting done, we’re really excited for it to come out.
CW: So how did you line up with someone like Paradox?
ZJ: We’ve known Paradox for a long time and we’ve wanted to collaborate with him for awhile. There’s a lot of action in the video and he’s really good at what he does.
CW: What is the video about? Can you give me a teaser ?
ZJ: The actual meat of the video we’re keeping under wraps, but the concepts are movement-based. That is where Paradox is so good. We are using cameras to accentuate the movements of a performer instead of take away from. One of my gripes with music videos is that the movements get lost because the editing tends to take over. Usually, dancing and combat scenes are just super-MTV style, it’s all editing and you can’t really see the actual dancing. We didn’t want that. The goal was to allow the dance and movements to shine and to have the editing facilitate that, and having a movement specialist like Paradox helps.
CW: I’ll look forward to seeing the video. More so, I look forward to your show at the Depot on Friday.
ZJ: We’re going to have a killer show with lots of great new stuff -- expect the unexpected!
CW: “Expect the unexpected,” that sounds like a well-rehearsed line.
ZJ: Ha ha ha. I’d tell you more, but it’s a surprise!
CW: I can’t wait. Thanks, David and Zoe, for your time. It was a great pleasure to speak with you again.
DS: Thank you, we had a great time. We’ll see you in Salt Lake!
400 W. South Temple
Friday, Dec. 2, 8 p.m.
$20 in advance, $25 day of show
For more information on Zoe Jake’s master dance workshop: http://trishamcbridedance.com/
For more information on Frederique’s performance and workshop: http://theladyfred.com/
Tribal Belly Dance workshop with Frederique on Saturday, Dec. 4: http://theladyfred.com/