The 4-day Burning Man-inspired gathering known as “Symbiosis” kicked off last week and the multifarious transformational vibes were inspiring to say the least. Beats Antique was just one of the many incredible electronic acts on the lineup, in addition to the myriad of artist installations, transformational workshops, performance acts, and overall shenanigans.
Beats Antique hosted an evening with the Grand Artique, a curated area at the festival. Several acts they hosted were side projects of Beats Antique members David Satori, Zoe Jakes and Tommy Capel. The Grand Artique took place at the Silk Road stage on Saturday evening, with featured performances from House of Tarot (Zoe Jakes' performance act), Sidecar Tommy (Tommy Cappel's solo DJ act), Dirtwire (David Satori's band), and Extra Action Marching Band (with Zoe and Tommy).
Electric Feels was delighted to conduct an exclusive interview with David Satori from Beats Antique at Symbiosis Gathering 2016. David had a lot of thoughtful things to say about the Symbiosis Family Tree, as well as EDM, transformational festivals, and the visceral connection between music and people. Read the full interview below.
What inspired y'all to have such a deep level of engagement with the Symbiosis community?
David: Beats Antique has been part of the Symbiosis community since it started. I am old friends with one of the founders, Bosque. I met him through Burning Man and the festival circuit… maybe 10 years ago. We actually all sort of grew up together at Burning Man and other west coast festivals. Earth Dance and stuff like that.
And then Symbiosis, I remember going to the first one in 2005. We’ve just been coming since before Beats Antique started. When it was a small, tight knit family. We’ve been part of it from the beginning, and Beats Antique has evolved and came out of it. We just love supporting this festival because it’s where we came from; in a lot of ways it feels like home.
How did the Grand Artique's curated evening with Beats Antique come into existEnce?
David: Bosque asked us: “Hey, do you wanna do a night?” and we said “Yes”. We have a bunch of side projects. Tommy does a solo DJ set, Sidecar Tommy. Zoe has something called the House of Tarot, which is a performance piece. And I have a band called Dirtwire. Dirtwire is doing two shows. We decided that it was a good time to curate a night. We’re having Extra Action Marching Band play, which is a band that Zoe and Tommy were in back in the day.
How does the Grand Antique, and Symbiosis overall, fit in with the vision of Beats Antique?
David: The Grand Artique is doing the Silk Road, and Beats Antique is definitely influenced by [that theme]. The Silk Road being the trading routes from east to west, from Asia to Europe. A lot of culture influenced each other… We’re influenced by all the cultures through that pathway, the Silk Road. Beats Antique exemplifies that influence… the multicultural mashup.
Electric Feels: You can notice it when you walk around. All the environments have vintage antique items that look like they came from the Silk Road. Some of the stage designs are somewhat similar to the aesthetic that Beats Antique puts on when they do a performance.
David: Yea, it’s because we came from this. These are the artists we’re influenced by.
For you, what sets apart Symbiosis from other festivals you've attended?
David: I think it’s more grassroots. It’s more about the community and the art. There’s more of an intention. It’s definitely opposite of a corporate festival. We have played festivals that are sponsored by Red Bull or Rockstar or something. It’s a very different vibe. This is more grassroots, it’s more the spirit of Burning Man - which is where a lot of the organizers came from.
What are some of your favorite musical acts this year?
David: I’m excited to see FKA Twigs. She’s a really cool singer, I really like her stuff. RL Grime is cool. Opiou is a friend of mine. So I love Opiou. There’s a lot of good producers. There’s this producer called Aztec, who’s not even doing an official set. He’s doing a set on one of the art boats.
Are you inspired by any of the visual artists, luminaries or teachers at Symbiosis this year?
David: Yes, I’m inspired by the whole culture here. I love Shrine's art, and Android Jones is a good friend. We’re always influenced and inspired by the art and the community that is Symbiosis.
Beats Antique does live performances as well as DJ sets, which are two pretty different experiences. Which form of performance do you prefer to offer?
David: I always prefer, when we can, to do the live thing. We started as live musicians. We come from a live musical background, but then became producers/DJs due to the nature of electronic production. In order to replicate a produced track, you would need a seven piece band or something.
We didn’t intend to be electronic musicians - it just sort of happened after we made an experimental album. And then we got asked to DJ, and we were like “OK… I guess so”. And we became DJs after that. I don't mind it, I’ve learned to like it, even though it’s not how we started.
What are your thoughts on the current EDM industry or EDM in general?
David: It’s been a trip to watch it blow up. It’s amazing to see how big it’s gotten in the past 5 years. It’s been growing. We come from an underground west coast scene, with Moontribe rave parties in the desert to Burning Man. We’ve been going to those parties for a long time, but they were all real small parties.
Watching the whole EDM scene take over and do the whole EDC world and Insomniac. It’s cool, you know, it’s like the evolution of music. People want to have that visceral vibration. Once you get that bass, a live show just doesn’t replicate that frequency. It’s like a sub-harmonic, synthesized note that is vibrating in your body. People get addicted to it. People want to just let go and dance.
Originally the music was more about dancing, and less about looking at something. It was all about the dance floor, and now it’s become these GIANT spectacles. Everyone’s looking at these giant televisions. It takes away from people letting go and getting lost in the dance sometimes. Like am I supposed to be watching this giant projected T.V.?. It’s crazy some of these stages they’re building.
Electric Feels: Plus the imagery some of these DJs are showing might influence people in ways they don't realize.
David: Which is cool, because it’s art and that’s cool. But some of it if it’s not done intentionally could be negative.
Electric Feels: Yea, sometimes they show very evil imagery in the giant LED screens at EDM festivals and shows. But Symbiosis is cool because they’re intentionally not putting televisions on their stages. It creates a more immersive experience when you pay attention to what’s around you.
As an artist, are there any specific messages or stories that you try to convey through your creations?
David: Yea, we just try to communicate emotion and our connection to different cultures, our connection to music. A song is an emotion, or an emotional experience. We’re trying to develop a deep emotional connection to people. They call it the shiver test - if you can get people to have that shiver down their spine then we’ve connected. That’s the thing we’re striving for.
Do you think gatherings like these have a positive impact on the world?
David: Yea, when I was younger coming to festivals they had the biggest impact on me. The cultural experience, the connection, and meeting people here. I’ve met some of my best friends at festivals, and developed a community that’s last over 15 years.
It’s community, really. It’s people that want to come together and experience art, and take their lives to a supernatural place for a weekend. We’re all just trying to have Utopia for a weekend, which I think we’re doing a pretty good job of.
Article and Interview by Colin Eldridge