Brendan Lewis: Hey everyone, Brendan the blind guy here. Today I'm lucky enough to be
speaking with the very beautiful and talented Miss Emily Smart from
Nakatomi. How are ya, Emily?
Emily Smart: Yeah good, thanks. How are you?
Brendan Lewis: I'm very well. Very well. Thank you. Now, congratulations on your new
single, ‘Wooden Castle’. It's very, very catchy.
Emily Smart: Thank you. Thank you, that’s sweet we enjoyed making that one.
Brendan Lewis: Yep. Oh, very well. Yeah and ... So, wanna know a little bit ... Kind of
take me through the story of it, the making of it and you know the
labour of love behind it.
Emily Smart: Yeah, sure. We ... Well, we actually ... We got a Artist in Residence
opportunity earlier this year that is called the Jon Lemon Artist in
Residence in Adelaide . And basically we were in a, in the studio,
songwriting studio for most of, a good part of this year, just songwriting
with different people and collaborating.
And one of those collaborations included ... We flew down JP Fung from
Sydney and he came down to work with a few, working with us on a few
tracks before. And, yeah. So, he spent a day ... A couple days this year
with us. But one of the days we wrote this song together and we
basically wrote it in a day. And it came together quite quickly, which it
usually happens when ... The good songs ... The better songs don’t tend
to do that. They just seem to be easy somehow.
Yeah, so we kind of started the day with songwriting, talking about
what's going on in our lives, and stuff, and then doing some freewrite
... Lyric sort of ideas. And came up with this idea about.... Steve
would be pissed off about something and wanting to express that. And
we also personified a redwood forest as the character kind of within the
song. And that's kind of how it developed.
And then we went into the studio, and grabbed a guitar, and started
noodling around on that. And actually, the song started with a guitar
line, which is odd for us, because we are an electro-act. But that's just
how it kind of started, and then we went and put a beat to it, and then
evolved all the synth and vocals around that. And yeah. And then it
became what it was.
Brendan Lewis: Wow. Very nice, yeah.
Emily Smart: Yeah.
Brendan Lewis: And it doesn't sound simple, so I'm glad it came together all naturally.
Emily Smart: Yeah, well sometimes you can spend months on one song, for example.
But this one just ... Actually by the end of that day it felt very close to
finished and it didn't sound exactly like it does now, but it actually felt
a lot like it does now and a lot of ... Most of the lyrics were there.
Everything was solidified by the end of that day, which was pretty
Brendan Lewis: Wow. That kind of reminds me of Vance Joy's, ‘Riptide’. Apparently that
song was a bit of a fluke and just all came together quickly. And look
how big that song became. So ...
Emily Smart: Yeah, yeah.
Brendan Lewis: So, the video that goes to Wooden Castle, I was watching it and I
went ... I was like, "Wow, this is unlike anything I've ever seen before."
And well, ever kind of seen with my lack of sight. But any how ... It's
very creative and kind of talk us through the making of the video, and
the story behind it, and what you wanted to go for in it.
Emily Smart: Well, actually, we had been a bit slack and got a bit lost. Being a bit last
minute with our video, but we spoke to a friend of ours who's got a very
creative mind. He's done a bit of directing, and acting, and he's just
very creative in general. And so we said, "What ideas have you got for
this. We need to do something relatively quickly and we want to kind of
make it organic, simple, and something that’s kind of fun to do." And
yeah, he came up with this story line. A sort of, dark, fairy tale-esque
thing. And that's what it kind of developed into. We were like, "Oh, we
love this. Let's see what he's gonna do."
And so, he just says that he just showed up on the day, and we had the
run down of all props ,and things we were supposed to bring, and he
was bringing everything else. And we turned up and he's made all this
little puppets, and costumes, and all this crazy stuff. And that we got to
play with all day and make that ... And he also ... We put together all
these projections to get the background and we had a big projection
So, yeah. We basically filmed it in a day, once again. Yeah, with a
couple of friends and ourselves. Hamish was dressed as the tree. And,
yeah, it came together quite brilliantly. Yeah, just as I said, just all our
friends just helping it out and putting together. And, yeah.
Brendan Lewis: Wow. Yeah, that's amazing, because again it didn't seem rushed or
thrown together quickly. Watching it, it was like "This is really-"
Emily Smart: Yeah. Well, we got ... We threw a crew all together in, I think, a week
and a half. Yeah, but ... He's very, very good ... Tim. So, he did a great
job on that. Yeah.
Brendan Lewis: Over 2000 views in just over a week, so, yeah. It's doing-
Emily Smart: Oh, wow. I didn't even know that. I hadn't even looked at it, to be
Brendan Lewis: You haven't watched it yourself?
Emily Smart: Oh, no. I mean, I haven't checked how many views there was since we
put it up. I think I checked it maybe two or three days later, but yeah.
Yeah, that's great.
Brendan Lewis: It's going really well.
Emily Smart: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Brendan Lewis: So, so far you've done the rounds performing and this is for a band who's
only been together for two years and you've already covered a lot of
ground. You've supported some pretty amazing bands, like Peking Duk,
SlumberJack, Tiger Town, Nicole Millar, et cetera. And-
Emily Smart: Yeah.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, you've done the rounds-
Emily Smart: We definitely have.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, well there's two parts to this question. One, how's that been? And,
well I'll let you answer that one first. How's it all been so far.
Emily Smart: Yeah great. Well, Hamish and I basically started this band because we
lost the form and we really started out just saying, "The best thing we
want to get out of this was to play some amazing shows." And, so that
was really our goal. And, I think, that having that goal actually made it
really easy for us to create what we wanted to create live and also to
aim for the shows that we wanted to play. So, yeah, then everything ...
As soon as Steven sort of started seeing us and the effort that we were
putting into our shows. It just kind of kept rolling on and people would
hear about us and want us to play with them. And, so, yeah. It just
happened organically, but we ... Yeah, we just got really lucky to get so
many great shows in the course of our existence. And it's ... Yeah, it's
been really fun and it's just continuing on, which is great.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah. You've already got an East Coast tour coming up ... Chock full of
dates. So, you have that to look forward to.
Emily Smart: Yeah, I’m really excited about ... That Sad Grrrls Fest which is in
Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, and ... In November. And also we're,
we've just been announced for Australian Music Week as well, which
we're doing a show in Sydney in November with Touch Sensitive So-
Brendan Lewis: Oh, wow.
Emily Smart: It's pretty great as well, yeah.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, nice. Is that the one at the Oxford Art Factory?
Emily Smart: No. That one is at ... It's in Miranda, actually. I think it's the Miranda
Brendan Lewis: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Emily Smart: Yeah, because I think that Australian Music Week happens in Cronulla.
So, it's all around that area that they have the shows and that sort of
Brendan Lewis: Oh, okay. Well, yeah. My bad. I'm gonna have to sack my research
assistant for that stuff up. Well, no. Okay, so, with your live shows ...
So, you've got a very full, very ... How do I put it? Very full, very
developed ... Yeah, big blend of sounds. That's the best I can come up
with at the moment. It's still before midday. Yeah, so, what can we
expect at your live shows and how do you get all of those sounds that
you hear on the recordings onto the stage?
Emily Smart: Yeah, a very good question. That's mainly Hamish and our drummer,
Mario, who's doing that live with us. So, we basically ... Usually got an
electronic kit set up, and lots of sample pads, and Hamish plays two
different synths on stage. And I basically just run around like a mad
women and sing as many parts as I can. And, yeah. So, I've got a pretty
easy job really. Except I'm usually more ... Maybe more out of breath at
the end. But the boys have got all the complicated musical stuff to deal
Brendan Lewis: Wow. So, run us through what you go for at your shows... like me being
a live music journalist, my main focus is sound quality from both you
guys and your sound mixers. But, on top of that, I look for energy, which
you already said you, "Run around like a mad woman on stage." So-
Emily Smart: Yeah, yeah.
Brendan Lewis: So, you obviously put off a lot of energy there, but I also really look at
crowd interaction and how you guys feed off your audience. What can
we expect at your live shows addressing those points?
Emily Smart: Well, we ... I like to connect with my audience as much as possible and
that's really ... I actually come from a drama background, so connecting
the songs with emotions is really important to me. And I then try to
push that out to my audience and get it back from them ... Get
responses and feel that with them. And so, I guess, it's hard to put that
into words as to how that actually comes about, but it's definitely
something that's in my mind whenever I perform. And I'm just trying to
bring the energy so that people can get involved with that energy and
Brendan Lewis: Yeah. Wow, that's great. Yeah, well it sounds like it comes naturally to
you. That you don't have to overthink about it, it just ... Yeah. Well-
Emily Smart: Yeah, not too much these days. Yeah, I'm actually a ... Really I'm quite a
shy person and maybe why I did drama at a young age. I did it to
become that different, outgoing, confident person on stage and not ...
Once ... I could be terrified, maybe, before I go one, but almost as soon
as I'm out there it just disappears and I'm just absolutely in the moment
and enjoying what we're doing. That's what we're here for, so that's the
main part of it. The best part is performing.
Brendan Lewis: Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah, well the best talent comes naturally and
so, it sounds like yours definitely does. So ... Great. So, I've read you've
taken influences from a lot of 80's dark electro-pop. Such as Madonna
and The Killers. You've got a bit of rock there. Childish Gambino, about
of Depeche Mode, and also Pizza. Do you take inspiration from the food
or the band?
Emily Smart: No, the food. Yeah. We do eat a lot of pizza.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah.
Emily Smart: And it fuels us to write things. And I guess when you're in the studio,
and you're on a role you, you quite often just want food to arrive and to
keep you in that inspiration mode. So, I guess that's where we're joking
around with that idea that we can't write without it in some ways. In
some circumstances, anyway.
Brendan Lewis: Well, now ... See now I'm picturing you singing, Wooden Castle, "Cut,
cut me up. Cut, cut me up. Put me in a pizza box." That's the best that I
can do at short notice, but ...
Emily Smart: That was pretty good.
Brendan Lewis: Thank you. And so, go through your songwriting. I can't imagine all of
your creative song writing comes directly from pizza, even though I
really do now have an image of the pizza singing that song now.
Emily Smart: Yeah.
Brendan Lewis: Which I don't think I can get out of my head all day now. So, tell us a
little bit about your songwriting and, kjnd of besides pizza, where did
your amazing lyrics and music come from?
Emily Smart: Okay. Well, in terms of songwriting, we have ... We do it all differently.
Sometimes Hamish is playing around with a few of his ideas and he's
showing me something and I'll have an idea straight away, or I might
take it away for a while, and have multiple ideas and then try them out.
He'll say he hates them all and then I'll then try again. And sometimes
I'll go nowhere and sometimes I'll go somewhere. And it's really, just
quite a developmental process most of the time. It's pretty rare for it
just to be, just the first thing you think of in your head and that's kind
of what it is.
I do, do a lot of pre-lyric writing, as I mentioned before. We basically sit
down for timed minutes. So, like you only give yourself exactly five
minutes or so to write on any subject or you can give yourself a specific
subject. And then from there you pull out bits and pieces that you like
of what you've written and start to shape something around that. And
then you might pick a word out of that and write from that, because
that says something to me ... As to what I'm trying to get out. And then
it just keeps going from there, so that’s it, just a vast array of lyrical
ideas that you can draw from in a few scenes that work around the
thing you're talking about.
And it can be as simple as ... Wooden Castle, for example, we started
with a redwood forest and then we're talking about the frustration of
musical endeavours and trying to strive for things that is really hard in
this day in age. And we were talking about that, so we continued
writing on that. And then a few other things that we went through. And
that was all drawn into when we shaped the full song. And it did exactly
what we were saying, and it made it really succinct, and makes it really
clear about what you're wanting to say.
Yeah and I'm already babbling here a little bit, but that's-
Brendan Lewis: No, you're good.
Emily Smart: That's really how we do it.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, good. Well, I did say before babbling is good. The more
information the better, so you're fine.
Emily Smart: Yeah and one of the other great things about this round of songs that
we've been writing is we got everybody involved who ... That was in the
room, to do the lyric. The lyric rhymes, so, most of the time that
included Hamish who doesn't usually do it. And it actually brought out a
whole heap of really grand things that I would probably never think to
say that could be used. And, in fact, I believe that the words Wooden
Castle was actually Hamish's ... Coming from his lyric writing. One of his
free-writing session that we did. So, I just go through everything that I
wrote and pick out bits that I like and work with it from there. So, it
made it really, really interesting to do it that way.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah. That's great. Yeah. Sounds like a really, really creative, cool
collaboration of ideas and it's come together to make a pretty amazing
Emily Smart: Yeah, yeah. We all ... I'm sure an amazing song, but we're really happy
with it. Hopefully everybody else likes it as well.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, well as I said over 2000 views in just over a week. I think people
are responding to it quite well.
Emily Smart: Yeah. Yeah, well hopefully they keep listening and we're looking forward
to releasing the rest early next year.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, looking forward to that. Now, I've read that you've collaborated
with producers that have worked with big names like, Birds of Tokyo,
The Cure, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Kimbra, etc. Kind of go through
that. What collaborations have you done? Yeah, I'm curious.
Emily Smart: Yeah, well, as I said ... JP Fung, who wrote with us a few times on this
track and a few others that we have yet to release. He's obviously done
huge amounts of work with some amazing artists. And we've also worked
with [Luke Medium 00:17:05] on a track. And we've been over to the
U.S. to work with [Tony Buschemi 00:17:13] who's done some work with
[Munsane 00:17:15] and East and [Astor 00:17:17]. Yeah, so we just look
for producers we think are doing stuff that we really love, because
that's going to translate into what we want to hear in our music. And so,
yeah. That's how it comes about. But we're definitely seeking out those
people and not just ... We're pretty decisive about who we want to work
with and the kind of sounds that they're making already.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah. And me personally, I'm a big fan of Birds of Tokyo. And I noticed
you also collaborated with them on their coloured ... Their single
‘Discoloured’. So, tell me about that. How was it working with Ian and
the rest of the boys?
Emily Smart: Yeah, that was great. So, they ... That was really bizarre. They
actually ... They heard Nakatomi somehow. I think, one of them heard
our last song ‘Live’ on [inaudible 00:18:15] or something like that and
they just wrote to me and said, "We're going on tour. We have a song
that we'd like you to come sing with us live." And that's basically how
that happened and I think I had about a weeks notice to do it. So, I
learned this song and it's the one that's ... Oh, now I've totally
forgotten. The Jezebels sings on their record. And yeah, so I got to go
sing that with them in their concert. And also, they came back for the
tour Down Under down here and I sung with them to that as well, which
was huge. So, yeah, they're both really big concerts and I'm pretty ...
Yeah, the guy's are lovely as well. The boy's from Birds of Tokyo, so that
was great as well. Got to have some drinks, and dinner with them, and
hang out, and yeah ... So, that's basically how it went.
Brendan Lewis: Wow, that's awesome. So, I've got to ask. The name Nakatomi, what
does it mean and where does it come from?
Emily Smart: It actually comes from the Die Hard movies. The Nakatomi Plaza where
they're gonna blow up the building or something. Hamish is a big fan of
Die Hard movies, but I actually really like them as well. But he's a big
Bruce Willis, Die Hard fan. So, that was where it came from really. But
it is actually a Japanese ... An ancient Japanese word for a sense of
class. Like a regal last name of ancient Japanese culture, so it's also got
that meaning. But the name is really after the Die Hard movies.
Brendan Lewis: Cool. Yep, nice. So, out of all the big things you've accomplished in the
past two years, and all of the acclaim, and all of the massive airplay on
lots of community radio stations, and being the spotlight artist of Triple
J Unearthed, and everything, et cetera, et cetera. So, what's been the
highlight for you personally and that kind of moment that goes, "Wow."
You know? “That's pretty amazing.”
Emily Smart: Yeah. There's been so many highlights. I guess probably the first one
that springs to mind is when we supported Miami Horror. And that was
just ... I just can't explain it. The crowd was just so into the night and
they were really great to the support bands. We got to play just before
Miami Horror. I think the whole show was running a bit late, so we were
kind of on the time that Miami Horror was originally scheduled to be on.
Which meant everybody was there and they're really, really excited and
ready to get their party on. And it was just ... Yeah, the energy was just
amazing and people ... We felt like they were giving us the energy just
as much as if we were Miami Horror.
And then they did the same for Miami Horror as well, but we were just
so excited when came off stage from that show, because people were
just reaching out for us. They were handing Hamish a beer and sharing
it with him. They were reaching over the barriers to touch us, and be
near us, and get involved, and dance, and it was just an amazing show.
And Miami Horror, obviously, is just a great band and an amazing band
to play with so we were pretty excited about that in general. But yeah,
it just turned out to be just a killer show as well.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, that sounds like a pretty euphoric memory. Yeah, wow.
Emily Smart: Yeah, yeah.
Brendan Lewis: Okay, and even though I am a chatterbox, I've got to limit it to three
more questions. Okay, so what's been your biggest challenge so far and
how have you over come it? Because a lot of people kind of think that
touring is all glamorous, and parties here, there and everywhere, but
they don’t really see what goes on behind the scenes. So, what's been
the biggest challenge for you?
Emily Smart: I think, probably on this end. When we started Hamish and I had never
done electro music before. We'd always been in rock bands and Hamish
had played synth, but I was a guitarist mainly, and a bassist, and a
singer. So, we were doing something we had never done before. I guess
at the beginning it was kind of overcoming that. We started again. And
we were like, "Oh, we're just starting from the beginning now. We have
no idea what we're doing. How to make this live or do any of these
things." So, it was a challenge, but it was also a fun, exploratory thing.
We'd been doing the other part of music for so long that this just felt
brand new and something that we had no idea about and we were just
guessing a lot of the time. But yeah, it became ... Yeah, it was difficult
at first. I think we got ... The first thing we ever did was we put a song
out, just one song to see if anybody liked it. And it was really just an
experiment for us and people really reacted to it. And then we got
selected to do ... For a competition to play ... I think it was to play at
some New Years Eve and ... In LA here and a big concert. And we were
one of three acts to go up. We had to perform ... We had to put
together a live set in basically a week and a half. And we didn't really
have the songs. We had three songs that we could play. So, we had to
draw that together. And probably I'm sure, in hindsight, was not a very
good gig. But we still got into that top three and played that.
It's like those kind of things that were really challenging, because we
were just going, "What are we doing? We don't even know what we're
doing." And we've come from knowing exactly what we're doing in other
bands and playing guitar. You do that and you know what you're doing
and if you're playing guitar you definitely know what you're doing. And
suddenly how do we play live with all this stuff that we don't have a 100
piece band to play and how do we make it work? So, yeah ... But we
stumbled along and eventually found our place. And yeah, we are where
we are now.
Brendan Lewis: Yeah, well definitely come out the other side shining, so well done.
Emily Smart: Thank you. Yeah, that's good. I'm glad it didn't go the other way and we
gave up, because it was too hard. So ...
Brendan Lewis: Yeah. Right, so you've already said supporting Miami Horror, that was a
pretty euphoric memory for you. Now, what's the kind of memory that
comes to mind when I say hilarious, WTF, kind of memory? Because I'm
sure you've come across a few of those moments.
Emily Smart: Hilarious ... Well, the first thing that comes to mind ... It actually didn't
happen when we were in this band, but Hamish and I used to be in
another band many, many years ago, and it was a rock band. And we
were travelling through the U.K. doing some shows and we ended up
playing what was like a motorcycle club bar in Wales. Anyway, we
basically got asked ... It was kind of like the ... I don't know how to
describe it like the ex-army pats, but they're ... It's a motorcycle club
and they had this bar. And if you were invited downstairs to their part of
the bar this was like a big honour and they wanted us to come down and
have some drinks with them afterwards. So, we had to go down there,
obviously. And we went downstairs and we were drinking with these
guys and they were very, very funny.
But we eventually went, but when we went to bed we were sitting on
the tour bus and we just went out and Hamish got stuck down there
with them drinking and he ended up there all night. Apparently they
were ... I think they were really tough, tough guys. Really bikie
basically and they were wearing all these old army hats and they were
singing along and they asked him to put a song on. And he's like ...
They're like, "Select a song." And he was like, "Oh, what am I gonna
select that they're gonna like?" And he apparently selected Peter
Gabriel's, ‘Sledgehammer’, and they all went mental and were just
singing along to Peter Gabriel for the night. And we found Hamish in the
gutter the next morning. He'd tried to make it to the tour bus, but did
not, and he was not looking too good.
So, yes he didn't have a good day the next day, but we found it very
hilarious, because Hamish is such a gentle, soft, effeminate kind of guy
really even. And to see him be down there with these big, muscly, bikers
... Really tough guys singing Peter Gabriel in an army hat and staying
out with them all night. Where they were telling him they loved him
and everything. It was really quite funny to us and is a story we like to
tell every now and again.
Brendan Lewis: Nice. If I had a story like that I'd love to tell them, but yeah. Hopefully I
come across a few of those WTF moments myself.
Emily Smart: Yeah.
Brendan Lewis: Okay. And finally, what's happening behind the scenes at the moment for
us fans to look forward to in the near future?
Emily Smart: Well, as I said, we're getting ready to tour at the moment so we're ...
And we just changed to a new drummer. So we're actually re-jigging our
last set at the moment and just making that really great for us to go on
tour. And then we'll be doing that most of November and then we are
finishing off the mixes on our EP and hoping that's going to be ready for
release late January or mid February. Yeah, so that's all recorded and
done. We're just finalising the sound and then making sure we're happy
with everything on there. And then we might have to cut off some
songs, because I think we actually have too many for an EP. But we'll see
how we go with that, because they're like your children so how do you
cut them out?
Brendan Lewis: Yeah.
Emily Smart: But, yeah. So, that's basically what we're doing for the rest of the year.
Brendan Lewis: Oh, nice. Yeah, yeah. Well you never know it might end up turning into
more of an album then an EP.
Emily Smart: It may, it may.
Brendan Lewis: Well, definitely lots of things to look forward to. Well, thank you so
much for taking the time to chat to me today. Emily, it was been
absolute pleasure. So-
Emily Smart: Thank you, Brendan.
Brendan Lewis: - Yeah enjoy the upcoming tour and hopefully I get to see you on stage
Emily Smart: Great, thanks.
Brendan Lewis: Thanks a lot. See ya.
Emily Smart: Bye.