Sep 22, 2012
interview
Beats Antique

Beats Antique have developed a cult-like following with their trademark half electronic, half acoustic sound. We sat down with Tommy & David to discuss their new album, Contraption Vol. II, their current tour, & how they marry the organic & electronic elements in their shows.

Beats Antique feat Brass Menazeri - Crush (Original Mix) [Antique]
LessThan3: How do you guys approach your performances and determining what to perform live and what to use in a prerecorded manner?
David: It’s a lot of back and forth, because we are both producers and performers. Now that we’ve been performing so much, we’ve seen how us being on the road is influencing what kind of music we want to make. We’ll make a certain kind of song and we’re basically playing along with our precomposed music–taking out the drums and melodic elements and playing over the stripped down production and bass.
LessThan3: With all of the controllerism and technology available today, do you think its possible to do true “live” performances completely electronically, without a band?
Tommy: You have to decide what sounds you want, but once you have that mapped out on different controllers you can just play everything yourself. You can manipulate any sound with a MIDI controller and do a live performance by hitting different sequences and improvise something differently for every performance.
LessThan3: You’ve done a lot of work with Bassnectar. What has it been like working with him?
David: Lorin is an old friend of ours; I’ve been friends with him for about fifteen years. It’s fun to take someone whose genre is a lot different than ours and see what happens when we give each other files to try out new sounds with.
LessThan3: Have you done any live performing together?
David: Our first tour was opening for Bassnectar.
LessThan3: What are each of your musical backgrounds?
Tommy: I grew up playing piano and drums. I continued to do a little bit of Classical throughout high school and ended up in marching bands and jazz bands, then went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and afterwards moved to NYC and played jazz.
David: I started a band in high school and made a CD and produced the album, and that was a huge learning experience. I also studied composition and world music in college, which had a big influence on my sound. Following college, I was in a a 12-piece afrobeat band that I toured with for five years.

Zoe has been studying dance for years—she started doing ballet and tap when she was young, and when she was around eighteen she began traveling around the world doing belly dance with various troupes. She and Tommy were also in a couple of bands together.

LessThan3: What can listeners who haven’t listened to Contraption Vol. II expect?
Tommy: The album is very diverse—it has eight tracks on it and contains some sounds we’ve been experimenting with live and translated into a produced track. We also do a track that is in the style of traditional Balkan brass music.
David: We actually go from doing heavy electronic stuff to doing stripped down, more traditional sounding tracks too. We have a guest vocalist, Lynx, who is touring with us who is also on one of the tracks.
LessThan3: Where did the idea for the Animale Mechanique tour name come from?
David: It came from the album artwork for Contraption Vol. II, which shows a bunch of animals made out of gears and mechanisms. We like the idea of half robot, half animal. It’s like the parallel between the organic and electronic elements in our music.
LessThan3: Who are some up-and-comers who you think are really bringing something new to the scene?
David: Our vocalist, Lynx–Tommy is producing her album, actually. Russ Liquid is a friend of ours who is really good, and is currently opening for us on tour. Eskmo is great as well. We actually have a community page on our website where you can see a lot of the musicians and artists that we work with.
LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
David: I would start with something on Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis, then go into some Ravi Shankar, then end it with some really bad techno music.
Tommy: I would start with something on John Coletrane’s A Love Supreme and then I would end it with an old Journey love song.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
David: Robotic Animals Mating.
Tommy: Mechanical Unicorns Flying.
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