Foundations: Cut Copy

Diving into the roots of the Australian project...

Cut Copy have shifted and evolved since those initial recordings 15 years ago, but the group retain an allure like no other.

2008's 'In Ghost Colours' became a break out moment, but in truth each of their albums is worth investigating – a run of spacious synth pop that matches chamber arrangements to gorgeous electronic melodies.

Constantly creative, the group – led by Dan Whitford – went into the studio last year, aiming to construct a follow up to 2017 fan favourite 'Haiku From Zero'.

Out in just a few days, new album 'Freeze, Melt' is laced with fresh ideas, the sound of Cut Copy engaging with transformation once more.

That fondness for melody is retained, but the building blocks are re-arranged, allowing the Australian project to enter new spaces.

Clash caught up with Dan Whitford to discuss his Foundations – the albums that truly altered the way he perceived music.

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DJ Shadow – 'Endtroducing'

This album was probably THE album that made me want to make my own music. I remember when I first heard it I was doing a student radio show with a friend of mine.

We played a lot of UK electronic stuff and also hip-hop, but when my friend dropped 'Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt', it was like I was hearing the perfect amalgamation of all the different things I liked in music somehow distilled down into one song. And really it still stands for me as one of the most amazing hip-hop or electronic albums ever made, perhaps because Shadow had thrown everything from his life up until that point into making it.

Basically it blew my mind. I’d never had any real musical training, though I was a huge music fan, but suddenly I could hear sampling as an entry point and six months later I’d bought my own sampler, a cheap microphone and started making music.

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David Bowie – 'Low'

When I was at university one of my friends was about ten years older and had played in a lot of bands (also his brother was the legendary Roland S Howard of Birthday Party fame). When he found out I was getting into electronic music he lent me a handful of records and said ‘listen to these’. There was Can, Kraftwerk, Devo and one of them was David Bowie’s 'Low'.

I found this record amazing because it was half ambient, film soundtrack music and half band driven pop music. The record (apparently) was the least successful of his Eno collaborations, but I found it the most interesting.

The idea that these soundscape songs could exist next to more fully formed pop is something that we’ve delved into for the subsequent 15 years of making Cut Copy albums.

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Electric Light Orchestra – 'Time'

ELO seems to be one of those bands that gets a bad rap, perhaps seen as being overly cheesy, even when they originally appeared, but to me Jeff Lynn’s songwriting and craft as a producer is up there with the greats.

For some reason I discovered this album somewhere in the mid-2000s. I think I bought it for 50 cents from an Opportunity shop. And at the same time as a couple of friends including Andy Szekeres (Midnight Juggernauts) discovered it as well. I love this record because it took the lush vocal harmonies and instrumentation of ELO’s earlier work and combined it with the most futuristic production and synth sounds they could find.

It sort of became this unofficial soundtrack to any parties, recoveries after late nights, or casual hangouts. This was the period when our 'In Ghost Colours' album was getting written, when I listen back to that album I can really hear the influence that 'Time' had on it; with all the chorus harmonies, sprawling arrangements and fine details.

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Terry Riley – 'A Rainbow In Curved Air'

This is an album that I’ve discovered in the last five years or so, though it came out in the late 60s. I guess in recent times I’ve become far more interested in listening to music that is immersive and creates a tangible atmosphere. This album is one of my favourites for that.

Often I would put this record on if I was in the studio and it would be like going into a trance. All of a sudden almost half an hour had passed, and I’d be feeling inspired. It’s really quite amazing that he created this kind of music back in the 60s because when I listen to it, I actually think how hard it would be to replicate the cascading notes and rhythms even with a computer, far less when performed by hand. It’s quite an astonishing achievement.

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Daft Punk – 'Homework'

I remember when ‘Da Funk’ came out, it really stood out from any other dance music getting made at the time. It was musical, but heavy and robotic and alien sounding yet somehow it sent dance floors into a spin.

I loved this album because it connected house music and techno with stuff like the Beach Boys, Kraftwerk, glam rock, disco, funk, and soul. It’s like they reconnected dance music to all these other genres that I loved rather than being this distant musical cousin that really only spoke to people who were in that scene.

Everything from the music, to the logo, to the sleeve artwork, to the videos were all breathtaking so full of amazing ideas and a childlike sense of wonder.

These days you could almost take for granted what Daft Punk did, but that’s because they changed our perception of what dance music could be forever. They really gave some personality to it that had never existed before.

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‘Freeze, Melt’ will be released on August 21st.

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