MEET THE MUSICIANS: Sidecar Tommy, with Beats Antique

This week, we interviewed Tommy Cappel, also known as Sidecar Tommy, who is the beats of Beats Antique.

Q & A with Sidecar Tommy

Why is this event unique?
This will be the first time that Beats Antique has collaborated with a ballet production—we’re re-imagining our music and the performance to create the soundtrack for the storytelling of Ballet Fantastique’s world premiere Cleopatra.

What is your background?
My musical journey began when I was a young child, exposed to many different types of music and performing arts.  My mother and father were both Musicians and music teachers. In high school, I was a percussionist in our symphonic band and a snare drummer in marching band.  I enjoyed performing songs I heard the National Symphony perform. I attended Berklee College of Music, focused on drumming performance, film scoring, arranging and music theory.  I was exposed to music from different cultures around the world. I learned how similar the rhythms were to western music, and played on instruments that we may not have a familiarity with. I enjoyed interpreting these rhythms on drum set. After college, I moved to New York City to explore jazz and hip hop.  Inspired by the collaborative efforts between live musicians and DJs, I started experimenting with sampling my drums and keys by fusing them with electronic music, world music, and jazz to create my own original BEATS.

What excites you about this event?
I was inspired when Hannah Bontrager got in touch with me to see if I would be interested in such a collaboration with Ballet Fantastique’s Cleopatra.  I’m excited experiment with our music in a way it has never been interpreted before, especially in a in a Performing Arts Center, such as The Hult. I’m excited for the opportunity to combine two worlds for a series of shows.

How is this different than anything Beats Antique has done before?
This collaboration will be different than a Beats Antique show that we are typically known for.  I am partnering with Sylvain Carton on clarinet, baritone saxophone, flute and percussion, while I will be playing drum set, piano and percussion.  The soundtrack will be performed fusing tracks from Ableton Live on my computer along with live performance.
We have never performed with a ballet company in a performing arts center—a type venue that traditionally is out of our wheelhouse.  I’m excited for the challenge, and thus far has been building up to be something beautiful and unique.

Who are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by strong musical traditions as well as experimental ones.  My journey through music is lead by my ears and my heart. It seems that throughout my life I have been inspired by contrasting styles of music and artistic expression, striving to define my music as it comes.
The world of music and art is vast and my inspirations follow suit.  I’m inspired by revolutionaries who dig deep to find the sound that works for the song/performance.  The collaboration between movement and music is a sacred one that I feel can break down barriers that may divide us.