It was love at first listen. On a random Thursday during SXSW 2016, I found myself in front of the outdoor stage at Empire Control Room. With time to kill between Gina Chavez at Sidewinder and Akina Adderley two hours later, I thought I’d a burn a few minutes with CAPYAC. The band had buzz around town, but I’d never heard a note. Just another one of my random SX walk-in-and-listens.
I never made it to Akina Adderley. By the time the members of CAPYAC finished a blistering, soul-shaking set, they had a new fan. Combining electronic techno, disco guitar licks, and groove strong enough to make mountain ranges shimmy, this dynamic twosome is the most fun you can have in the Austin music scene.
CAPYAC’s two-headed monster of DJ/keyboardist/producer Delwin Campbell and vocalist/guitarist Eric Peana first met in high school, here in Austin. Peana needed a keys player for his “trash orgy” band. Campbell filled the need and a collaboration was born.
After college, Peana returned to Austin to find Campbell forming the bedrock of what would become CAPYAC’s sound. Peana’s guitar work injected a funky, party vibe into Campbell’s French house/mellow hip hop production, and the result was pure magic.
Since then, 99 percent of CAPYAC’s music has been written and recorded exclusively by the duo. On stage, a crew of performers and collaborators join the party, but everything starts with Campbell and Peana’s chemistry. A pair of EPs, a fantastic full-length album, and a slew of singles have been the result.
Dance Music for Anyone and Everyone
Thus far, the band has released one full-length record, 2016’s “Headlunge.” The sound fluctuates between silky between-the-sheets jams, including “Speedracer” and “Creature of Desire,” and Euro-house tracks like “All Your Life.” My personal favorite is “Talk About,” a bouncy, sexy disco jam awash with wah-wah synth, percolating guitar leads, and Peana’s dreamy-eyed come-hither lyrics.
Live, the band’s sound explodes with an ever-increasing cast of backup singers, saxophone players, percussionists, and the occasional pancake chef. Many of CAPYAC’s finest compositions, like the epic, slow burn show opener “Breathe In, Breathe Out” are only played live.
In fact, every show is a new explosion of costumes, colors, and visual eye candy. Before its ACL 2017 performance, where most bands clamor to start sets on time, CAPYAC began with a leaf frond blessing, deep knee stretches, and making sure the pancake griddle was properly heated. For lesser bands, all the set dressing would be trying too hard. For Campbell and Peana, it’s just who they are.
Sights, Sounds, and a Bright Future
Like all good artists, CAPYAC’s band members are constantly evolving and discovering. “Fade Out” features a velvety verse by local MC RuDi Devino, while electro-pop tune “Bubblegum” centers on the sassy, snarky, and occasionally profane vocal style of New York performance artist KD Kinetic. Farther toward the horizon, the band plans to embark on a new tour, with a full-length record set to release in 2018.
Change is ever-present in the band’s look, as well. Art in multiple forms is a huge part of the CAPYAC experience. The video for “Speedracer” glows with stark beauty and hypnotic dancers. The latest video for “Talk About” takes a trip to the surreal with a pair of oddly-proportioned CGI characters dancing in everyday settings. CAPYAC has even enlisted the help of fashion designers to create a custom clothing line.
Since that fateful SXSW 2016 performance, I’ve seen CAPYAC in several situations and places. From tiny SXSW stages to large festivals, every show is a new experience. Doesn’t matter who’s in attendance. By the end of the set, the entire joint is grooving. CAPYAC could turn a nursing home into a dance party.
By transforming the conventions of electro-house and funk into a sultry stream of laid-back groove, CAPYAC delivers an electric shock of mood-altering energy to anyone lucky enough to be in its laser beam. Don’t let your first experience be one of happenstance. Make a point to go out and see this unique two-some for yourself.
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