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Q & A: Nakatomi

Adelaide electro-pop duo Nakatomi have been tearing up southern Australia since the release of their 80’s inspired track and The Knife and it’s epic music video. We had a quick word to Hamish and Em about their evolving sound and how to decide where to go for pizza in Adelaide when drunk.

Did you decide on your name because you’re big fans of the movie “Die Hard” (Nakatomi Plaza) or do you have a connection with Japanese culture? 

Hamish: Haha it's all Die Hard. We wish that we'd chosen something classy about Japanese culture but in reality we were just watching Die Hard for the millionth time and thought “that'd be a good band name”. Thank god we weren't watching Top Gun at the time or our act may have been called Goose.

The Knife is drenched in 80’s inspired electro-pop, what are the music influences behind Nakatomi’s sound?

Hamish: We're huge fans of the 80's especially some of the dark cool stuff like Depeche Mode, Ultravox, and Tears for Fears. I just like how much excess everything had in the 80's. The production on some of those tracks are just so ridiculously jam packed that it's complete chaos but awesome. Like going to subway and when they ask what fillings you'd like, you just put another sub in your original one - Jam packed insane deliciousness!

Em: Hamish and I share similar 80s influences, but I have a lot more female orientated musical influences than he does, being that I am a female vocalist. Some acts from the 80s that inspired me as a woman in music include Pat Benatar, The Bangles, Roxette, Kate Bush, Belinda Carlise, and Fleetwood Mac.

Your single Golden Sun, released late last year, has a much more modern/heavy chill-step sound. Are Nakatomi moving in a more vintage-electro sound or is The Knife a wild card in your live sets?

Hamish: Good spot. As we're a new act we've sort of been experimenting in different sounds and seeing what songs work and finding our style. We're feeling pretty good about the 80's dance tracks we're writing just because they're high energy and a lot of fun to play live and get the crowd moving to. However, we love having the freedom to go "Well let's try a trip-hop track" or "shall we have a slice of EDM" and know that it will still work in our set.

Em: Over the last few months we've sorted out a set that incorporates a lot of different styles but it works, as we use cohesive sounds regardless of the genre to keep the tracks flowing with each other. It makes the set a bit different while still maintaining our sound. There are a few 80's inspired, a few dance, a few chill songs.

Hamish: The set is kind of like Frankenstein wearing leg warmers, a headband, and a “choose life” shirt. He's made up of a lot of different parts, but you can't argue he's got a general 80's aesthetic going on. 

What was it like to work with Tkay Maidza’s producer Bad Cop for the sound design on The Knife?

Em: Hamish used to play in a band with him so they go way back and when we had these tracks written it was just really comfortable to go to him and say have a crack at some sounds. 

Hamish: He's a real talent and to have him in our corner is pretty awesome. If we were at the gym he'd be the spotter yelling encouragement like “Push it to the limit”, “feel the burn”, or “I've warned you before to wipe down the equipment after use!”. That's how good he is.... thank god we both don't go to the gym.

How did the idea behind the sci-fi vibe of The Knife music video clip come about and is it as epic as you hoped? 

Hamish: We were watching Blade Runner with some mates and Em screamed out we should do something like this as a clip. Unfortunately she said that during an ad for the Reject Shop, so I just thought she was insane. Then she explained it was the idea for an 80's clip and not a clip where we just reject shopped. We met with the director Aaron Schuppan and he pitched this incredible idea with robots and guns and so much hairspray that global emissions went up 20% post shooting. We didn't think he could pull it off on a shoestring budget, but he came through with the goods and we absolutely love it. I'm trying to get funding for him so he can make the whole movie, so I can finally see the full ending. I hate cliffhangers!

What’s your favourite 80’s music video clip?

Hamish: I'm a huge fan of A-HA's Take On Me. I am also still mentally scared from Dancing In The Street with Bowie and Jagger. There's a bit between the weird dancing and gratuitous ass shots that Jagger just stops and drinks a coke. It's actually amazing. Also Flock of Seagulls’ I Ran is awesome. I love the idea of setting up a camera on a Lazy Suzan, surround it with mirrors, and cover it in alfoil to 'camouflage'. It did not work and I love it for that reason. Devo’s Whip It is also brilliant, as is Prince’s When Doves Cry and Kiss. How and why that man can do the splits in 6-inch high heels blows my mind! All I know is that if he was doing that around Jean Claude Van Damme as he's doing splits over two chairs, while eating a banana split, and the Split Enz in the background you'd have a great viral video. Chuck a cat into the mix and the Internet would explode!

Em: I love the video for Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, mainly for the dancing, which is just so freaking weird. I’m also a huge fan of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart for similar reasons. The clip just doesn’t make any sense and I love that! Also if you haven’t seen the ‘literal’ video version of Total Eclipse Of The Heart check it out, it’s hilarious! 

Pizza seems to be a big interest of Nakatomi, where should people go for Adelaide’s best pizza?

Hamish: Interest is putting it lightly, destiny is more accurate - There are so many layers to this question. If you're drunk then I suggest the cheaper the better. You'll feel it in the morning but the taste explosion of a $5 Pizza Hut BBQ Chicken is worth it. If you're sober and your taste buds are still functioning and you don't want to eat a pizza that tastes like a Frisbee made love to some dry wall then I suggest Godzilla Pizza. Victor Harbor Pizza also kicks ass but as it's 70km's out of the city the delivery costs would be about $700, and the pizza would have decomposed and been absorbed back into the earth by the time it arrived.

Em: My favourites at the moment are Goodlife or Melt, but I’m always on the look out for the next little local pizza place to pop up, as the tiny unknown places tend to surprise you the most with awesomeness.

Christmas is just round the corner, what’s the present you’d be least thrilled to receive?

Hamish: Bird Flu or whatever the next animal above that is...sloth I guess. I do not want Sloth Flu. 

Em: I also do not want any kind of virus… candles or soaps are a bit of a cop out too. 

Which Australian artists can you not get enough off at the moment or have impressed you?

Hamish: I'm loving City Calm Down at the moment. Tame Impala is a given, Sia, Yeo, Luke Million, Jesse Davidson, and Owen Rabbit are also hitting the spot. Exciting times for Aussie music!

Em: Eves The Behaviour, Skies, Mio, Jarryd James, JOY. 

What’s next for Nakatomi after the next run of shows?

Hamish: We have another half a dozen tracks in the pipeline, so when we get back we're in the studio again we should have something back out first thing next year.

Em: Or worst-case scenario Hamish has just bought Fallout 4 so like Groundhog day he will emerge for the shows, then see his shadow and retreat back into his cave/PS4 for another 6 months.

Nakatomi Live Dates

Friday 20th November

 Pow! @ Mynt Lounge, Werribee VIC

Saturday 21st November

Futuresounds V @ Crown & Sceptre, Adelaide

Sunday 22nd November

The Toff In Town, Melbourne

Thursday 26th November

Oxford Art Gallery Bar, Darlinghurst NSW

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