ONE NIGHTMARE. ONE CAT. TWO BROTHERS.
photographed by JEANEEN LUND. written by NATHALIE ROCK.
Tambourine lessons with Stevie Knicks, touring with a circus and full-on sing-a-longs outside of your shows? If that seems unreal to you, then you’re probably neither Django or Samuel Stewart — offspring of music/producer Dave Stewart of dance power duo Eurythmics and Siobhan Fahey of British girl group Bananarama — founders of Nightmare and The Cat, their own foray into the music realm. Finding a home with Capitol Records in 2013, NATC is comprised of vocalist (and tambourine man) Django, guitarist Sam, bassist Scott Henson, drummer Spike Phillips, with Claire Acey on additional vocals. Their Simple EP was released late last year and as BMI put it, “It’s impossible to pin Nightmare and The Cat into one genre.”
One thing that unites their sound is the influence of their British heritage. “We grew up most of our lives (in England) and subconsciously are really influenced, not just the by music, but of the era we grew up in,” says Sam. “But also, the mood of being a British person and the humor and everything about it.” What exactly is the British mood? Sam clarifies, “Well, we’re not very… Like, optimistic people, but we tend to make light of bad situations. I think it’s just easier to laugh at things that are negative rather than get depressed by them. I think that comes across in our music quite a bit.”
The NATC home base is now Los Angeles, where their last show (at the time of this interview) had taken place. Django tells us, “I think it’s taken a while to build a following (in L.A.), but the Bootleg Theater show was amazing — we sold out, it was jam packed, people that couldn’t get in stayed outside, and like 60-70 people were outside singing along.” Django adds, “It was one of my personal proudest moments, since we picked all the local acts on the bill, and it was such a success — it was really nice.” On their favorite spots to play in L.A., Django notes that while The Troubador is nice, the Bootleg Theater is “just more intimate.” Still, their career aspirations are a stark contrast from those cozy types of places, as their dream venues would be: “Glastonbury festival, hopefully on the headliner stage… And also the main stage at Coachella, or the main stage at any big festival.”
NATC was named after a song by Anthony Harwood, a musician who was around in the ’90s then faded into obscurity, maybe even moving into a cave in Afghanistan... The duo hopes that one day Harwood will come out of his cave, so that they can “thank him for all the inspiration.” As far as other inspirations, Django says, “I love that Jeff Buckley song, ‘Hallelujah,’ and Iggy Pop for instance, his energy and power on stage is so captivating. Lyrically, it’s mostly Leonard Cohen and Morrissey… But the Smiths, some songs are hypnotic, really straightforward and great songs to rock out to.” He adds, “All kinds of music are great for their own personal qualities. It’s really about the artist and if they can actually let their inner self into what they create. Other music is amazing for its technicalities; some music is amazing because nobody’s ever done it before. As long as it’s pure…”
Django also plays tambourine for the band, and learned a few tricks from the legendary Stevie Nicks. “To be honest, I was supporting Stevie with my dad, and singing back-up for my dad and playing the tambourine for him, and she taught me a few things backstage one night. That got me more into it as a real instrument.” As far as working with and creating music alongside your sibling, both Sam and Django agree that it works in their favor rather than against it. Sam also says, “It’s equal parts a great positive thing and can also be very challenging, but it’s all about finding the balance.” The key to success? “What works really well is that we’re able to tell each other what we don’t like, and it’s not like stepping on eggshells as you can actually just get to the point. If it’s to anyone else, you’re less comfortable speaking how you really feel.”
Now what couldn’t NATC like? After all, they’re music has been described as having elements of folk, blues, rock and even a little country. But, as Django tells us, “I can’t stand modern music, it’s weird. Something like Daft Punk, I could really get into that. But I just find some of it to be quite soulless.” On working in a crazy industry that favors more radio-friendly kinds of songs, Django states that, “Being an artist, you really have to stand up for yourself. I’m also just a big believer in karma and that things will work out the way it’s supposed to. And I honestly just work as hard as I possibly can.”
Where could this road take them next? A big show at SXSW this year, but it won’t be their most interesting gig to date. “We actually played a couple gigs with a circus.” Django starts to sound a bit dreamy. “Who knows… I might just run away and end up with the circus one day.” Sounds like we have to keep an eye on NATC to see where they could possibly end up next.
This story was produced & published in SHK Magazine's N.05 issue.