Apache Beat “Something heavy and hallucinogenic.”

It’s not often that we at Tiny Mix Tapes profile a band in its infancy who has put out so little to be judged by. In this situation, the band is Apache Beat, a name taken from a quote by Klaus Dinger describing Kraftwerk’s music. Their debut LP Last Chants was set to be released in the early part of this year, but has recently been pushed back to a summer release for reasons on the business end of things. So, as a music reviewer, all I have to go by are a few promising singles and a couple of concert videos on YouTube. After waiting weeks and getting nothing more than a standard press release from their label, Summer Lovers Unlimited, I had to dig harder to find anything of substance about this enigmatic band.

Welcome to the information age. After getting the standard Facebook/MySpace/Wikipedia pages, I immediately found a wealth of information about lead singer Ilirjana Alushaj. As a writer, editor, and model, she comes off as a modern day it-girl, knowing all the right people and going to all the cool parties. At this point, I couldn’t help but cynically wonder if a large percentage of the hype being generated about this band, with so few releases, is simply nepotism, based off of knowing cohorts who work in the media industry who give her band press.

But after emailing back and forth with Ilirjana and bassist Mike Dos Santos, it’s apparent that this band’s serious about making music, not to mention really cool people with good taste and creativity in spades. Yet while having a sound plucked from various influences and being talented musicians are small pieces of the puzzle, do Apache Beat have that certain je ne sais quoi that makes them unique enough to stand out in the sea of bands these days and deserving of their pre-hype?


This has probably been the longest hold up with any band I’ve tried to interview. What have you all been busy doing that kept me waiting so long?

Mike: We’ve been working on music and changing things up a bit and have been writing lots at home and are getting ready to start working on a new set of songs. We want to shake things up and bring the music and the live show to another place. To broaden the sound and expand on what we can technically do live.

Speaking of your live sound, if there was a drug experience that would best describe what it’s like to be at an Apache Beat concert, what drug would it be?

Ilirjana: Something heavy and hallucinogenic.

What has the experience been like getting ready to release your debut LP?

Mike: The writing and recording process was great. Waiting to put it out can be frustrating. We are already in the frame of mind to start writing album two.

Ilirjana: It’s hard because it can lead you once you’ve finished one goal to stop and chill for a while. We are trying really hard to keep working whilst we get this first album out.

“It’s not that we intentionally waited. There’s always labels, managers and other mundane legal drama to deal with when relying on someone else to finance and release your music. We’re now trying to be more proactive and get our tunes out there right off the writing block on our own terms.”

What song off the new album are you catching yourself singing in the shower most often?

Mike: Probably the high chorus melody from the track Last Chants.

Ilirjana: “Tropics” because I guess I’ve been singing that since Apache Beat began. However, sneaking up is a new song called “Nightwaters.”

Your “Tropics” single came out and made a minor buzz in 2007. Why have you waited so long to follow it up?

Mike: We were lucky with the “Tropics” release. AB was only a band for a few months when that came along and it was the fifth song we wrote. Doug from S.L.U. heard a demo of it and wanted to put it out. We did actually follow it up with the “Blood Thrills” single in 2008 then there was a digital single of “Your Powers Are Magic” this past Fall. It’s not that we intentionally waited. There’s always labels, managers and other mundane legal drama to deal with when relying on someone else to finance and release your music. We’re now trying to be more proactive and get our tunes out there right off the writing block on our own terms.

Ilirjana: Yeah… there are always things that sometimes get in the way of making things move as you may want them too.

Style is something that is noticed about the band. You are pretty people ready made for video and glossy mags. Do you worry about not being taken seriously by music snobs as a result?

Mike: Pretty people? That cracked a smile. Uh, ok. I didn’t see that one coming, thanks I guess. Funny to hear that considering how little I think about fashion & glossy mags. I don’t worry about that sort of thing at all. Nor do I ever read our press. I realize I could easily be one of those music snobs myself. People are passionate about what they like and I don’t have a problem with that.

Ilirjana: I don’t think about it either… we have no real control in whether people find us stylish or not. Haha. It is obviously flattering and though I personally have an interesting in it, I doubt fans of our music would be turned away because we were in a fashion spread or wore clothes from a particular designer.

Who are your musical influences that convinced you to start a band and put out an album?

Mike: I can’t say there’s anyone or anything that made me “want to put out an album” but there are plenty of influences that keep me excited and make me want to keep writing & listening to music. I admire people like Eno & Kevin Shields who can take these simple little pieces and turn them into these sonic, grandiose works of art. Then there’s stuff like Moondog, Iggy & co., Neil Young. ‘60s girl groups, The Clean, The Raincoats, Antena. German bands like Cluster & La Dusseldorf. All the great comps on Les Disques du Crepuscule. Tons of rhythm based music like 50’s Calypso and 70’s West African acts like Vis-a-Vis, Akwaboa, Alex Konadu and Opambuo Internationals. The Velvets are my biggest influence. Their third album still floors me.

Ilirjana: Oh I love a lot of music… from Felt and Marine Girls to Huggy Bear and Minor Threat. For me it is not musical style influences but more what music does and how it motivates. Listening to the new records by Pantha Du Prince and Memory Tapes really makes me want to do more with my own sound.

You recently got to open for Gossip on a tour and blogged about the experience for NYLON. It’s not often people get to see what it’s like for an opening band on the road. How was it to be put in that sort of role?

Ilirjana: NYLON magazine is a fan of our band and asked me to blog about the tour. It gave me a fun excuse to chit-chat. It was fun to do, but some days I felt I was demystifying being on tour. Gossip are awesome and their fans were just as cool.

“It was fun to do, but some days I felt I was demystifying being on tour.”

You all seem very connected in the Brooklyn music scene. How do you feel that community has helped foster your art?

Mike: Other than collaborating with friends I do not feel like the Brooklyn scene has necessarily influenced what we or I for that matter write. Creatively I’m kind of detached from what other people are doing. Yes, we have a sense of camaraderie within the community but I think a lot of the music and themes we explore are coming from someplace else. We’re digging a bit deeper.

What is the most foul odor you’ve ever smelled throughout the five boroughs, and is it more rank than that container of beans and rice I found in the back of my refrigerator 5 years ago?

Mike: A couple years ago there was a mysterious stench covering the five boroughs. It was really terrible. They were calling it the “Maple Syrup Mist” in news coverage. It was later credited to a power plant in where else … New Jersey.

What other projects have you been involved in outside of Apache Beat?

Mike: I’ve played in a bunch of bands, more than I recall and styles across the board. Some of them were The Realistics, Brendan Benson, Cattlepress & Pablo. Phil & I were in a couple other projects together, Blue Sparks and Ahoi. Ahoi actually had a song called “The Apache Beat.” Over the last couple years I worked a great deal with legendary UK punkwave band The Homosexuals, which I helped reform. I ended up co-producing, arranging and writing songs for a couple ep’s … did a few tours. It was great fun. I also played bass on Chairlift’s “Bruises” single. Lately I’ve been writing an assortment of songs which I may perform or release under the moniker “Termites Of Temptation.” I have been studying sitar for a while now, too.

Ilirjana: Musically I have solo side project Typical Girls, which is releasing a 7” in May. Also been working with a guy from England called Satellites and some stuff with Romy Croft (The XX) and a few other friends from all over. I write a lot so I love all these collabs. A little less musically I have an online magazine called The Pop Manifesto, which I get to feature some of my favorite newest creatives. There are a lot of awe-inspiring people that I think should get be heard by more than me. Associated with that I have started organizing events. I kinda like doing a million things all at once.

What’s it like being in a band with siblings? Admit it, you are sick of when they start reminiscing about that weird kid from their neighborhood who got bit by a sewer rat, or that summer their parents loaded them in the station wagon to drive to the Grand Canyon, or any other childhood memories that you have no idea what they are talking about.

Mike: Actually, there’s none of that at all believe it or not. The thing with the siblings is they tend to agree on everything.

Ilirjana: It’s cool. It would be more interesting if were in a band of magicians then siblings though. We should talk about that instead.

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