At The Dakota are Darwin’s freshest five-piece indie-groovepop band, comprising of the NT’s most well-known original artists combining their skills to write “feel good, dance-y grooves”. The band have just released their debut EP, featuring the People’s choice NT song of the year ‘Stumptail’. Tomatrax caught up with Zac East from the band to ask a few questions.
How did the band form?
Our friend and previous At the Dakota guitarist Steve-O really wanted to put together a band that was doing something different in Darwin, something funky and really groovy. We all came from different bands originally, however having saying that, all members of the band with the exception of Paul (keyboards) were in Zac (bass) and Jay’s (drummer) original post-grunge outfit Zedmajor.
The project had been in the works since 2012, and really only got into gear late 2013, with our first show happening around the same time the following year.
Where did the name At the Dakota come from?
Given that the band was Steve-O’s brainchild, the name came about after Steve-O had read a few John Lennon biographies, and given we’re all fans of the Beatles, it was a good match.
You’ve just released your debut EP, what’s it like to have it out?
It’s pretty awesome to know it’s out there and circulating and people are really enjoying it. We’re getting some really cool tweets from some fans in the US telling us how much they’re enjoying the EP and our sound. It’s a real buzz for us that people so far away are playing our music.
What made you pick ‘Stories’ as the title track?
We wish there was a real story behind it, but honestly – we were throwing around ideas of what we should call the EP, and the suggestion of ‘Stories’ come up, and it just sort of fit, really. We don’t like to overthink things too much, it can make things complicated!
Was it hard to pick what made it on the EP?
Not really, we just picked the songs we felt sounded the best from our live set and that we all really liked. We didn’t have a great deal of time to muck around, so we just got in there and got it done, and we were pretty happy with the results.
What was the inspiration behind the font cover?
We had been playing around with a few designs, and the original design was actually completely different. We started with a designer who had been doing all our designs since the start of the year, but unfortunately things didn’t work out and so we had to start over, and we were cutting it pretty close to the deadline for album artwork. We took it to our mate Markus from No Culture Creative, gave him a few ideas of what we were after, and within a few days he whipped up our cover. It was great design, and such a relief!
You will be touring in support of your EP, what can fans expect from your show?
We like our shows to be fun and get people down to have a dance and hang out. It’s a pretty awesome thing to see the audience closing their eyes and really enjoying the moment they’re in. We’re just a bunch of mates who like to play music and make people dance. Plus, we’re guests in each city, so we want to make sure we have a good time too!
What is the music scene like in Darwin?
A growing one, for sure. We have a lot of untapped talented artists here, although the lifestyle is very influential in terms of being chilled out and laid back. There’s a real lack of industry here, so it’s harder for our artists to get stuff out without having to make a massive effort to be heard, and sometimes that can be pretty difficult. We’re really trying to get out there and bring some more attention over to what’s here in the Top End – we think people will be pleasantly surprised.
When writing what comes first, the music or the words?
It always seems to be music, for us. But that’s because Dylan (vocalist) is a gun with lyrics. As a band made up of songwriters, we’re all pretty jealous of his natural talent, and we’d been trying to get our hands on with magic flasks that secretly steal his songwriting ability but he found us out, so now we just have to deal with it.
But in all seriousness, our songs are usually themed around shared human experiences, whilst leaving enough room for the listener’s own interpretation on what the experience might be.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Who doesn’t? But really, if it doesn’t make you feel good listening to your own music, ego and self-loathing aside, you can’t expect others to relate. Love what you do!
What other music do you listen to?
We all have different tastes in music, and those influences certainly show themselves in our music. We really enjoy local artists, like Ocean Bones, Elli Belle, Green Stone Garden, Gaia, to name a few. Smith Street Band, Northlane, Sticky Fingers, Josh Pike and The Rubens are some of the bigger Australian artist we follow, and we’re pretty stoked to have some amazing support bands on our tour like SANS, Della Fern and Jakarta Criers. We’ve brought back Running Young from our last Melbourne show as well, those guys do great.
What do you have planned after your tour?
We’re actually supporting The Rubens when they’re in our hometown, just after we finish our tour. After that, we’re planning on heading back in to the studio to get started on our next EP. We’ve got a pretty clear idea of what we want from our next record, so we’re pretty pumped to get started on it.
Check out At the Dakota’s website to find out more!