The Past, The Present, & The Future Of Beats Antique – An Interview w/ Sidecar Tommy and Zoe Jakes

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

What happens when you combine an eclectic and heartfelt mixture of artistic mediums into one project? If the tribal fusion music harnesses elements across the spectrum, and if the visual presentation aspect consists of deliberately tangential cinematography, and if the performance component teleports you to a world under the sea or among the gods of past civilizations, you are experiencing Beats Antique. A fusion nourished from its infancy, by multiple streams of ingenuity, that will engulf the pleasure centers of your mind. Time folds on itself and everything else fades away once the first note begins the journey to your soul.

When someone tells you a story, the way they tell it can be just as important as the story. The same applies to music. When a collective force of remarkable and unique individuals have chosen to unify their respective passions and their sound, to bring something new and beautiful into the world, notice must be given and respect shall be paid. It’s usually an interesting story when you learn how an aesthetically-rich and dynamic project came together. I don’t want to get caught up on any possible implications by using the word “band” because Beats Antique is so much more. I spoke with Sidecar Tommy and Zoe Jakes about the methodology behind the progressive fusion that is taking this project to the next level.A’Damaged Pro – How did you guys come to be? How did your fusion start?

Beats Antique – Tommy: One of the people that Zoey was working with for a belly-dancing company wanted to put together an album of tribal fusion belly dance music but that genre of music didn’t really exist at that time. It’s kind of a combination of traditional middle eastern and hip hop and electronic elements. So we sort of just went with it and did a couple of albums. After the first couple albums we started playing some shows and people started digging it. We started Djing first and after awhile we were like, “Wait. We play instruments.” So we decided to put a little band together and make it actually work. We pulled out our instruments and started playing along and it’s just become..that was about five years ago.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the first instrument that you started playing?

Beats Antique – Tommy: Me, personally? I started piano when I was a little baby. My mom was a piano teacher so we had pianos at the house and I just played and learned to play by ear. From there I got into drums when I was, like, eight, and I’ve been playing drums for thirty-two years now.

A’Damaged Pro – Tell me about the recent kick-starter. How did that go?

Beats Antique – Tommy: We put out there that we wanted to raise about 40k to help us pay for some of the production, you know, overhead. We raised about 60k. We had our fans really come through and help support it. It was great.

A’Damaged Pro – What is this newest concept called?

Beats Antique – Tommy: “A Thousand Faces.” It’s our newest concept for when we go to venues and play our own shows. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for us to bring all of our setup to festivals.

A’Damaged Pro – How long has the performance been integrated into the shows?

Beats Antique – Zoe: Since the the very beginning. Beats Antique started as a recording project for dance. As well as myself, both David and Tommy have been in groups that lean heavily into performance art, so we are all like minded about visual art.
A’Damaged Pro – Does the choreography or the music get created first? If the music is first, how do you choose what elements of the music to frame the choreography?

Beats Antique – Zoe: It goes both ways. Sometimes I will have a very clear idea of what the piece is visually, and the costume or theme or storyline will come first. Or I will hear something in one of the tracks that inspires me to build an entire dance. It is a very mutable process.

A’Damaged Pro – What are your influences for the costuming?

Beats Antique – Zoe: Old west coast circus, Art Nouveux, playing cards, mermaids, mythology, showgirls, childrens story books, crystals, drag queens….everything!

A’Damaged Pro – Any influences that helped bring this newest concept to life?

Beats Antique – Tommy: Obscura Digital and our creative director, Ivan Landau. He does all the content and directs all of the content.

A’Damaged Pro – How did you guys come to meet them?

Beats Antique – Tommy: They’re really good friends from Burning Man from years ago. They live in the Bay Area and they’re best friends.

A’Damaged Pro – What elements do they bring that help magnify the efforts of the band?

Beats Antique – Tommy: The technology. Ivan is more of a videographer. He made our first video “Revival.”

A’Damaged Pro – At your shows…that’s the cinematography. It’s not just random visuals.

Beats Antique – Tommy: In “A Thousand Faces,” it’s all original content. That’s was went into most of the cost of the whole thing. The making of the videos and then the video mapping those onto the surfaces and then the actual hard labor. A contractor friend of our, Mark Perez, built the life-size mousetrap. Which is an incredible art piece.

A’Damaged Pro – Is that mobile, like collapsible?

Beats AntiqueTommy: Yeah, he actually brings it to a bunch of shows.

A’Damaged Pro – Where’s the next spot that you guys get to unveil?

Beats Antique – Tommy: We’re taking a little break after the holidays and starting a new tour in the spring. We’re doing six weeks. We’re coming here to Denver for the Fillmore.

A’Damaged Pro – I wish you guys would come to New Orleans.

Beats Antique – Tommy: Well, we’re playing Buku Festival, and we just played Voodoo. We’re hoping to be play another venue there soon as well. We’ve played at The Howlin Wolf and Republic. We’ve played at Tips Downtown.

A’Damaged Pro – You love what you do?

Beats Antique – Tommy: Oh yeah, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t? We love our fans. We love all of the support we’ve got because we’re not a normal band. I feel like we’ve crept up from the underground and been given an opportunity to reach a lot of people and those people have embraced us. I feel that we are very fortunate and very lucky to be in the situation that we are in. We’re not the rockstar types. We’re regular people. We like to connect with our audience and hang out with our fans afterwards. We have a very artistic crowd. Strong individuals in their own community. I’ve been humbled every show that we’ve played. It’s an exciting thing to be able to do.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words… 

In a world where things sometimes boil down to that little something extra, Beats Antique is an audio-visual baker’s dozen. Ingenuity and craftsmanship ensure harmony exists between the elements of their composition. Although the individual components are vivid and powerful enough to stand on their own, the overall effectiveness of their synergy is irrefutable. They are a multi-mediumed showcase that speaks the language of your soul.

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