Chicago Music Magazine writer, reviewer, and interviewer Erin O'Connell caught up with Beats Antique at this years North Coast Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago to talk about the touring lifestyle, the road they took to get where they are, show preparation, and the future musical direction of the band. Here is what went down:
Erin O'Connell (CMM) - This is Erin with Chicago Music Magazine, here at Northcoast music festival. I’m here with Beats Antique how are you guys doing today?
All 3: Good, Yeah!, Woohoo!
Erin O'Connell (CMM) To get things started I wanted to ask you guys why the middle eastern influence? What attracted you to that type of music as apposed to a different area of the world?
Zoe - The funny thing about it is it kinda chose us. I was in a dance company with Miles Copeland, who is the manager for the Police and grew up in the middle east. He had a love for middle easter music and culture. So he had this big, big budget touring dance company, that I happened to be a part of years and years ago. And he wanted more music for his label. He has a world music label one of the biggest in the world. He asked me to put a group together, to do a more kind of modern approach on it. So I brought these guys in (pointing to David Satori and Tommy Sidecar) together, because he wanted something specifically for belly dance. However not necessarily straight belly dance, and this is where it kind of gets into wording. There is this kind of sub-culture called tribal fusion, which is more of a darker, heavier type of belly dance. It brings a lot of different influences in and includes electronic music, that includes middle eastern, that includes north african, and indian. So it’s kind of this mash of all these other cultures, that’s kind of how all the music started. Again, that genre kind of chose us. So from there were kind of springing out into a bunch of different influences.
Erin O'Connell (CMM) Ok great. What have you experienced here at Northcoast that makes this festival different from anywhere else you have played?
David - It seems very EDM focused, compared to other festivals we’ve played, and it’s very unique like that. There is a huge growing market for EDM and this is sort of capturing it all. In the mid-west it seems to be growing even more, Chicago is sort of known for it’s house music and all that. So it’s cool to see it happen, we have been lucky to play the last 2 lollapaloozas. Not this year, but in 2010 and 2011. It’s a nice change for us to do something like this, because we have a lot of EDM influences in our music as well.
Erin O'Connell (CMM) How do you think you stand out from the rest of the EDM genre? Seeing as the genre is often crtisized for all sounding similar. Outside of the middle eastern influences, what makes you stand out?
Tommy - I think its predominantly our live instrumentation that we do on stage. We have the track going where it’s like we are sort of DJing our music and playing along with it. I don’t think that happens so much, I mean it does happen out there for sure. But I feel like we utilize our live instruments to build the energy up. We encorporate the electronic like the synth bass, rises, and breakdowns, just like an electronic music producer would. We add in the live instrumentation to sort of get the emotion out and really pull in the energy.
Erin O'Connell (CMM) So I have one other question for you Tommy. Why Tommy Sidecar?
Tommy - I have epilepsey so I haven’t been able to drive for a really long time. Back in the day I was in a band called the Art dogs roadshow. We were often times on tour it was very lack luster. We would have a show and a few days off, then a show and a few days off. So we would end up sitting around a campfire somewhere. One night we were sitting around talking, and I came up with this great idea. It was to tour California on motorcycles. I got all involved in it, I started telling the whole thing like how it would work, how we would do it, and how much fun it would be. Then my friend stops me and he says ‘Yeah but dude you can’t drive. So you can’t go.’. Then my other friend is like no no no, so we get a sidecar to attached to any of the bikes. Sidecar Tommy Boom!
Erin O'Connell (CMM): Alright that’s exactly the answer I was hoping for. So you’re a big visual focus during the shows. What do you do before a show to get inspired for the audience? Do you do the same thing every time or is it different depending on the show you are playing?
Zoe - Well I think the biggest thing for me that has become a ritual is putting my makeup on. Which actually generally takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to actually suit up. I almost think of it as my armor, it just gets me in the mode. I’ve heard a lot of actors and performers talk about, this is the moment where it’s your ritual. It is the exact same thing every night, which can get really tedious and annoying. If you look at it from a more buddhist perspective, it’s the repetition that creates that ritualistic feel. It’s all what you do to prepare, putting on the armor, getting read to perform. From a more technical side I guess, when we’re on tour something I try really hard to do is get in habits. I need to find a schedule involving training and being able to practice dance and do as much yoga as I can to protect my body. If I didn’t do all that I don’t know how I would get through a tour.
Erin O'Connell (CMM): So you really try to stick to those every single show.
Zoe - As much as I can. It’s really hard in the summer when we are doing these festivals it doesn’t happen at all. The summer festivals are just, you get there, you have a drink, you do the show, it’s difficult to create any kind of pattern. When we are on tour I really try hard to honor every day, as something that is building and growing as an artist. I try not to get caught up in the feeling that it’s a lot like ground hog day. It’s the same thing over and over and over again. Which may be one persons hellish experience , may be anothers sacred experience and can really enjoy it. Finding the beauty in the repetition, is important and part of it for me in creating a ritual.
Erin O'Connell (CMM): Where do you see the group going musically from here?
David - We have a lot of different directions in which we can go in. Recently we have started going back into some of our more traditional routes. We’ve gone pretty far in the extreme of our electronic influence, so we’ve come back a little. I feel like we are going to just keep doing that, going back and forth between influences. It just creates a bunch of new music by itself. I feel like just going back to traditional styles and what’s going on in the electronic world, it’s just infinate on what can come out of that. That’s just sort of our way.
Erin O'Connell (CMM) Almost like would you say being inspired by your own sounds?
Zoe - Absolutely, or our own process.
David - And the sounds around us, we are influenced by all these different cultures that we love. And we are influenced by the EDM scene. Influences by break beat music dub step music, electro music, it’s all in our influences, and how they change. That will keep changing and so we’ll be turned on to new music, hopefully turning people on to new music we make.
Interview by Chicago Music Magazine's contributing writer, reviewer, and interviewer Erin O'Connell at North Coast Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago.