Beats Antique's Tommy Cappel Talks Upcoming Tour And His Favorite Places to Play in iEDM Exclusive Interview
Beats Antique just released their 10th album, which also marks their 10th year together as a band. The album is titled "Shadowbox" and it's the theme for an upcoming tour that will stop in 35 cities across the country. Shadowbox is also the name of their new store front in Berkley, Ca.
Beats Antique is consisted of David Satori, Zoe Jakes, and Sidecar Tommy. The trio puts on one of the most unique shows as Zoe belly dances to their electronic cultural fusion. I got the chance to chat with Sidecar Tommy at Symbiosis recently about recent projects, how he feels about touring, and his favorite festivals and venues.
iEDM: You guys are listed as Symbiosis All Stars, what can you tell me about that?
Tommy: I was wondering that myself to be honest. What does that mean? I think it means we’re part of this family. We have all helped each other out. I've been to Symbiosis every time except last year, so it means we're part of this community, and we have grown with them. If we're not playing one of our side projects is playing, or we just come to have fun.
iEDM: Are you guys going to be a part of their Oregon Eclipse festival next year?
Tommy: We don't know if we're playing, but I am definitely planning on going to it, whether I'm involved or not, because it seems like an amazing time. I would come to Symbiosis as an attendee, not playing anything.
iEDM: What other festivals do you feel that way about?
Tommy: Lightning in a Bottle and then that's is. Those two festivals are a representation of the strong community who have grown together and become artists through each other. And that means when I go there, I'm going to spend my time hanging out with people that I really love. As an artist, it's busy; I don’t really get to do that so much.
Look who's taking a dip in the background - bandmates Zoe and David (below)
iEDM: How did you meet Zoe and David?
Tommy: Zoe and I were in two bands previously, Extraction Marching Band and Yard Dogs Road Show, so we performed a lot together for years and years on the road. Then she got an opportunity to make a record that's filled with music that she would dance to for Miles Copeland, so as a dancer, she needed musicians to help her, and David and I jumped on board. We moved into a warehouse together at the Vulcan in East Oakland so it was really cool we basically shot in the dark.
We weren’t sure what that was going to be and it was really cool because it was the first time as a producer that I’ve ever had a project where I was like I don’t really now what this is going to sound like or supposed to sound like. With such a vague description it’s really wonderful. It’s also difficult because you do have to just go from scratch. But there were a lot of influences that we all have, and I think each of the songs kind of ended up having little bits of us and it just worked.
iEDM: Where does your influence come from?
Tommy: I’m really into groove music. I’m a drummer, a pianist and percussionist. DC is where I grew up, and go-go music was super happenin' and at the same time as like hip-hop was coming up and go-go music they’re sort of synonymous in DC, so I ended up having a lot of hardcore punk rock stuff, go-go music and hip-hop. And now I feel like those worlds can meet each other and should. And they should consciously hangout together and that’s happening more and more so the music really works.
The world influence came through when I went to music school and really started to hear about people who were doing really interesting stuff with cultural music. I got into classical Indian stuff and started to listen to a lot of African music too, mostly like drum groups. Their call and responses and stuff like that is so beautiful and really amazing. They record stuff outside and you can hear the birds. I love that. Anything I can put my headphones on and be submersed into wherever that was being recorded is awesome. I also love jazz and New Orleans music. I love funk. I'm a funk drummer at my core.
iEDM: So how do you guys go about producing together?
Tommy: It's different each time. Generally what happens is one of us will come up with either an idea, whether that's sonically or just like an idea of a story or vibe. We come up with a sketch that could fit that, and then we all agree this is the right direction. Then we start to sculpt it and chisel it away and add a bunch of shit, then take it all away at different pieces and it’s sort of like a mosaic. Like with a mosaic, you take a bunch of things that are red, yellow and then you take them as their needed and fill it in. Then you step back and see the bigger picture. So that's what we do. We record a bunch of things then start taking it all away. Then at some point were like ah that'd be sick to have somebody who's a master at this instrument and then well bring them in and record them and do the same thing.
iEDM: Your Creatures Tour was a huge success with your carnival theme - do you guys have anything special for this upcoming tour?
Tommy: Yeah we’re actually like stripping down a little bit. Last time was a pretty good representation of like what it would be like. Our venue shows are always a smaller, intimate, more vibey thing. We wanted to get away from tons of video and too many lights on stage where you can’t see anyone. We want people be submersed into it. Sometimes that means minimal lighting. It’s more about the actual music and the actual performances than it is about the spectacle of what’s going on. There’s a reason for that. It’s because it’s just gotten kind of over-blown. And we’re a band, and I’ve always been in bands. Put the light on her (Zoe) and just keep it there. You don't need to light me up, because she’s doing something beautiful and I’m just like working. She’s influencing men and women, but a lot of women feel empowered by her and it’s a really beautiful side to our project.
iEDM: You guys have played venues across the country, what are your favorites?
Tommy: Oh yeahh. The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC is the first place that comes to mind. They have been holding it down with proper everything for a really long time. And if you fuck up there, they tell you. Which is my favorite thing. I love going to a venue where the production manager is like kind of scary and there’s like urban legends about him and stuff. And then I go there and try to befriend that guy and fuck with him back because I’m sort of like that and I think it’s funny.
The Fox Theatre in Oakland is a phenomenal venue to be in as an audience member and see the band that you’re looking at in a beautiful place with art and sculptures. Also the Fillmore and then Red Rocks, obviously, are on that top list.
Each place is it's own place. It's got its own thing. The crowds are similar, but different. It's our vibe mixed with whatever’s going on in that city, which is really neat. That’s exciting. Some of the places I love playing are shitty venues that kind of suck. But for some reason, whether it's the people, or the way that it feels in that room, maybe there’s a lot of history there; who knows, each place carries its own thing. We're doing 35 shows on this tour.
iEDM: How do you manage 35 shows in a row? Do you hate it by the end?
Tommy: I don’t ever hate it actually. It’s like my favorite thing to do. And I highly suggest if anybody doesn’t like it they shouldn’t do it. Not just like it, but love it. To me, I’m so fucking grateful that I get to do this. How does it feel to play 35 shows in a row? FUCKING AWESOME. Even if it’s a hard tour, when I get to the venue and my awesome crew has set up our stage to be perfect, and it all sounds right, and I can sit down and drop into that place, all the other shit that happened on the bus the night before the show, the day before, my friend over there, my girlfriend over there, whatever it is, all that stuff goes right out the door and I focus on playing the show and executing it.
For me, there’s a technical side and a fun side. The technical side is I strive for an amount of perfect that equals mistakes and stuff. I’m not trying to be perfect, I’m trying to have a fluid performance on my instrument and that’s the spiritual journey for me my whole life. I’ve been playing drums for 30+ years and that’s really important to me. Then there’s the other side, which is like holy shit this is so much fun! Look at all these people that come out and it really blows my mind and we just kind of look at it like wow thank you people for letting us do this.
iEDM: That's awesome. I'm originally from Indianapolis and you guys have come through the Vogue a couple times.
Tommy: Oh sweet! Yeah!
iEDM: Indianapolis doesn’t get a lot of music constantly coming through there and Beats Antique coming to town is always a big deal.
Tommy: My family is from Anderson, IN. I love going to places that get neglected. I really think more people should play in places like New Orleans as many times as they can a year because it needs it. It's like this community that people may not know about exists and you need to go provide them with art. When you experience something like this, it's really important to take that to places that don’t have it or understand it. Even if that’s the smallest thing that I can do then I hope that people come to our shows, enjoy themselves, enjoy the people around them that feel the same way, and then after that they go off and do something really sweet and creative.
iEDM: Anything else you want your fans to know?
Tommy: More experimentation. More emotions. More fun. More happiness. We definitely want to spread peace in the world and that's probably one of the biggest things right now. It’s why we collaborate the way we do. Our response to the terrorist attack in France at the rock venue was to make a track that had French vocals and Arab vocals each asking for peace in their own way. It’s responses like that. It’s necessary. Each side of any battle is fought from a place of love, even if you don’t agree with it and don’t understand it. It’s mostly that you don’t understand it, and maybe they don’t know how to tell you about that part, but there’s passion and love in that fight. It’s timeless. All we can really do is love each other. I know it sounds super hippie, which is great, I just feel like that’s the one thing I want people to know. Live with love.
The Shadowbox Tour has began and hopefully coming to a city near you. Seeing Beats Antique live is a fully immersive and enlightening experience. Their music breaks genre boundaries from cultural music from around the world. Zoe Jakes is a captivating belly dancer who steals the crowds hearts, and together they are one of the best live acts to see right now.