Beats Antique Interview

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Electronic/World fusion dance trio Beats Antique brings you their new album and multi-media

touring show A Thousand Faces, a journey beyond the sonic realm that’s part odyssey, part

genre-warping rock opera. The album is an epic two-volume adventure that follows every stage

of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey with sweeping and lushly textured new compositions.

While the fully immersive show will carry audiences through the complete journey, A Thousand

Faces – Act 1 represents just the first half of the monomyth, with the second volume due out next

spring.

A Thousand Faces is meant to be an adventure for the audience, a wild ride that takes them

through these mystical lands all across the globe,” says David Satori, who formed the Bay Area-
based group with fellow musician/producers Tommy Cappel and Zoe Jakes in 2007. A Thousand

Faces – Act 1 features a carefully curated ensemble of guest artists, including PRIMUS vocalist/

bassist Les Claypool, Sarod player Alam Khan (son of legendary classical Indian musician Ali

Akbar Khan), and vocalists Morgan Sorne and long-time collaborator Lynx.

For Beats Antique—who have fused genres as disparate as flamenco, afrobeat, and French

Gypsy jazz since their 2007 debut Tribal Derivations—taking on a musical interpretation of the

monomyth was a prime opportunity to deepen their exploration of faraway cultures. “In Beats

Antique we’re always trying to cross cultures and weave together a lot of different sounds,” says

Satori. “So we were very much drawn to the fact that Joseph Campbell had studied traditions all

over the world and found a link between so many different mythologies, from Native American

to African to Southeast Asian.” Not only embodying the spirit of cross-cultural connection, A

Thousand Faces merges a spectrum of musical styles—from Indian classical music to Balinese

fusion to EDM—in a manner that’s both seamless and endlessly surprising.

That sense of sublime synergy was also a key factor in bringing to life the concept at the

heart of A Thousand Faces. “As we were writing the album, everything from the music to

the ideas for the stage show and video and choreography all came together in an amazing

way,” says Jakes. Dubbing A Thousand Faces their most intensely collaborative effort yet,

Beats Antiquedesignated a diagram of the hero’s journey as their guide for the initial stages

of songwriting and composing—then let their experimental side take over and flourish as they

delved further into the creative process. “Making the album was incredibly organic from thought

to actual completion, right down to the guest musicians who joined us,” says Cappel. So charmed

was the creation of A Thousand Faces, he adds, that within a day of deciding to ask Alam Khan

to appear on “Kismat” (the album’s spellbinding second track), Khan contacted Cappel and told

him he was interested in working together.

To build the lavish and intricate soundscapes heard throughout A Thousand Faces, Beats Antique

blended the hypnotic rhythms and elegant melodies of traditional music with deftly crafted beats

that reveal their affinity with EDM culture. An internationally regarded belly dancer who’s

heading up the choreography for the dance element of the Thousand Faces tour, Jakes notes that

she also found much inspiration in classical Indian dance and its practice of using movement

as a means of storytelling. For help in lacing together so many eclectic sounds and influences,

Beats Antique recruited guest musicians like baritone sax and clarinet player Sylvain Carton

and violinist Lila Sklar, in addition to Les Claypool (who lends his bass wizardry and vocals to

the brilliantly twisted “Beelzebub”) and singer/songwriter/beat-boxer LYNX (who appears on

the breathtakingly ethereal “You the Starry Eyed”). From the serpentine splendor of “Pandora’s

Box” to the heady intensity of “Veil of Tears,” the result is epic in scope yet intimate in its

emotionalism.

Already renowned for their outrageous live performances, Beats Antique have dreamed up a

grander show than ever before with the live component

of A Thousand Faces. With technology and production helmed by Obscura Digital (a San

Francisco-based company known for its work with Brian Eno, the Guggenheim Museum, and SF

MOMA), the show will feature creative visual production by Ivan Landau (a filmmaker whose

visual-effects credits include Æon Flux and Sin City). Also partnering with world renowned

digital artist, Andrew Jones (who’s art has been projected on the Sydney Opera House and done

the majority of Bearts Antique’s album covers). Also illustrator Leighton Kelly (who teamed

up with Landau on the video for “Revival,” a track off of Beats Antique’s 2010 album Blind

Threshold), the group has created a multimedia spectacle that’s rich in sensory stimulation.

“Instead of throwing out random visuals we’re using video in a way that’s very intentional and—

combined with Zoe’s choreography and our costumes and the music itself—ends up immersing

the audience in the story that we’re telling with the album,” says Cappel.

As veterans of a vibrant Bay Area underground arts scene committed to pushing boundaries

through collaboration, Beats Antique first and foremost strove to offer a uniquely communal

experience with A Thousand Faces. “This is a universal story that’s been told for thousands of

years,” notes Jakes. “We are each a spoke in the wheel of the monomyth, and there’s a deep

sense of unity in all of us sharing the same story.” To that end, Beats Antique chose to tell the

narrative that runs throughout A Thousand Faces from the perspective of the listener. “Our

main ambition for the album and the show was to create an unforgettable experience for the

audience,” says Satori. “We’re the characters they’re encountering along the way, the scenery

that’s constantly changing all around them, and it’s the audience members themselves who are

the heroes on this journey.”