11 October, 2008

Interview with Nakatomi Plaza

Like many other Irish music dedicatees, the demise of 66e was my Take That moment. To see them reinvent themselves as Le Galaxie (yes I know it’s a completely different band, comparisons will end now. Well, soon anyway) gave us a new hope. Not only that but Anthony, former guitarist and synth-ist for 66e has started his side-project of electronic/house/techno showcasing Nakatomi Plaza: an experiment in sound combinations and a study in mixing skills. Here he talks about his old band, his current band and of course, his going solo.

As Nakatomi Plaza and part of Le Galaxie, the name 66e must be following you around quite a lot. Are you finding it hard to break away from the association?
Le Galaxie is pretty much a completely new band to 66e. 66e were a rather more serious act to Le Galaxie and we found that though Ed (the singer with 66e) had an great voice we found it somewhat restrictive in terms of diversifying our approach writing material. Le Galaxie is pretty much all instrumental and a far more upbeat affair. The same influences are there but we’ve applied and taken from them in a different ways. We all would have been heavily influenced by dance music and Le Galaxie gives us a chance to use those influence whereas 66e didn’t really. I suppose in terms of being associated to 66e we try to avoid it as much as possible as we don’t want people judging the band on preconceived opinions particularly because the bands are so different. With Nakatomi Plaza is one further step removed so it’s more my association with Le Galaxie which is cool by me.

Though you were the guitarist in 66e, you've turned to electronica - how did that transition come about?
I actually played a good bit of synths /keys with 66e as well guitar and though I only play guitar live with Le Galaxie I play a lot of synths and programming when we’re writing and recording the songs. The reason why I only play guitar live is to maintain a more “traditional” live element at our gigs. Also for simplicity reasons as we have a lot going on on stage without having another bloody laptop or keyboard there to break down on us. I have always listened to dance / electronic music and with Nakatomi Plaza it was just something I wanted have a shot at.

I assume your system of and ideas about songwriting have changed...?
Ha yeah I actually noticed that. The first couple of songs I wrote as Nakatomi Plaza were very verse chorus verse chorus in their structure. I also notice that the more songs I write as NP there more I’m leaving that way of thinking behind (not that that’s a bad thing).

How do your songs work in a live setting? As in how much to you leave up to your presets and how much do you do live?
Because I’m playing live by myself yeah it can be somewhat restrictive. It’s a mixture of tracks sequenced and playing live. I also have my keyboard mapped to a load of filters which I can control and bring in and out during the set. The plan is to use an Akai MPC in the near future for playing samples live which would really give it a more live feel. Thing is it would probably require more hands than I have so might end up getting somebody to play live with me. That’s the plan anyway.
What kind of equipment/software does Nakatomi Plaza use?
Mainly just Reason 4.0 with a bit of cubase for any live recorded stuff. I’d use a load of sampled vintage keyboards as well.

Why show Predator at your HWCH gig? Why do you consider Nakatomi Plaza a soundtracker?
Ha it was actually supposed to be Predator 2 that night but the DVD player that was playing the visuals wouldn’t play it for some reason. Just did it for laugh really as another element for the gig. “If you don’t want to dance, you can watch Dutch, Mack, Blaine, Poncho, Dylan and Billy tear it up in the jungle”. I would be really influenced by soundtrack music so just thought it would be cool to have on. It’s an awesome movie.

So you're an Atari fan? ;-) Do you listen to computer game music at all?
Actually not really. Meneo is a chip tune dude living in Barcelona and is awesome and has played in Dublin a few times. The Vinny Club is mega also but I don’t know if you could class that as computer game music.

Do you put Le Galaxie before Nakatomi Plaza? Will it always be that way?
Ah yeah it’s Le Galaxie first. We’re super busy at the minute. We’re just finishing our new video and playing an arse load of gigs and it’s going really well. We have a new single coming out on 31st October which we’re launching in Crawdaddy on Halloween night and should be savage. Because we’re so busy I haven’t really got much of a chance to play many gigs as NP lately. I am just in the middle of finishing off one more song and then hopefully get my arse in gear and start gigging around.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Ah I would just like to keep gigging and playing in as many places as I can. Jaysus that’s a particularly unwitty response. Sorry about that.

Anna Murray

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