The crowning jewels on the Australian electronic scene, Cut Copy are unquestionably one of our finer exports of the past decade. Able to seamlessly weave synth-pop, electronica and indie like no other, the Melbourne quartet have steadily taken the world by storm with each passing release. Following a somewhat quieter year than most, front man Dan Whitford shares how 2010 unfolded for the group and how 2011 is truly their oyster.
“We did a bunch of shows through the UK and Europe and also played Lollapalooza – we were the second headliner on the day that we played which was pretty amazing,” he shares with a sense of earnest appreciation. “Beyond that it was all about finishing the recording of our album. We headed to Atlanta and spend quite a lot of time there to complete the mixing and put in some additional recording. That more or less brings us up to the present. We’re gearing up for a big year of touring and the release of our album.”
The widely anticipated album Zonoscope has been eagerly awaited by their legions of fans worldwide. Their third studio album, the follow up to 2008’s critically acclaimed In Ghost Colours marks a turning point for the group. Merely weeks before its release, Whitford explains how the album came to fruition and its natural progression from their previous productions.
“While In Ghost Colours was well received and left us with the feeling we had accomplished what we wanted, for me it felt like there was a journey that we were on making that album which we almost got to the end of but didn’t quite complete. It felt as if there was unfinished business in terms of what we wanted to do creatively,” he explains before a momentarily pause. “Coming back to Zonoscope it was really all about trying to find a new direction, a new idea and new thoughts to work on.
“I didn’t feel any pressure as much as wanting personally and creatively to be excited and inspired by a new direction and that was half the challenge of the record – finding a new way of working, something that would be exciting and satisfying artistically. I think we’ve done that. In Ghost Colours felt like it was a meeting point for some old-school house and modern dance music, along with some ‘70s pop stuff like Electric Light Orchestra, to even some ‘90s shoe gaze like My Bloody Valentine. Those were the references points that we kept coming back to,” he muses. “We spent a lot of time listening to a whole bunch of new records and thinking about what would be exciting to explore.
“With Zonoscope it feels much more poppy from the outset,” he adds. “A lot of it is much more rhythmic and repetitive and has a more hypnotic and psychedelic edge to it, whether it’s the dance tracks or the more guitar-based songs on there. I guess,” Whitford muses, “a lot of that stems from working on and being inspired by a lot more rhythmic – almost tribal-like – music and then building from that to make the tracks.
“It’s more about making the groove and then building on it,” he continues. “In the past it hasn’t really been the way that we’ve written tracks so it represents that a lot more. It’s also really got a vision and a sense of place to it, much more than In Ghost Colours. When I listen to Zonoscope now that’s really evident, it’s like a dark tropical journey that you get led on and hopefully that’s what people get out of it.”
Underpinning their natural prowess within the studio is Cut Copy’s finesse and adaptation of their records to their live performances. While beginning their careers as regular fixtures on the Australian festival scene, their expansion as musicians has seen their constant development as performance artists showcased globally.
“Over the past few months we’ve been playing three or four of our new tracks at our shows and they’ve been received really well,” Whitford relates with a happy vibrancy. “A lot of them have obviously just been freshly recorded and I guess because of the way we write it’s not just us sitting in a room jamming and recording, often it’s us sitting there and listening to something we’re working on and figuring out what we can add on top, change or manipulate.
“Often when it comes back to playing things live it’s a challenge to figure out how to recreate it. A lot of it is done in the studio where you have the endless ability to add and change things. We revisit songs and figure out what they are and how they work. It’s been a challenge for us, but each time it’s gone down really well and now that we’re leading up to the album being released, and we’ve got quite a lot of shows coming up, we’re really psyched to play a lot more of our new songs and see how it all goes down.”
For a year that’s promises to be relentless and demanding, Whitford is optimistic and excited in his approach for 2011. A year that will the undoubtedly see the further artistic progression of the group as they prepare to once again showcase their talents around the world. “I’m not sure if there’s a whole lot of room for much else besides from touring” he laughs. “We’ve got to reach all parts of the world and visit everyone who has made us who we are today. Certainly for the first nine months of the year it’ll be non-stop touring. :But there’s always other things bubbling in the background; we’re running our own record label and we have a lot of releases scheduled for this year and we’ll probably even work on some new remixes if we find the time. It’s going to be very busy, but we’ll see.”
CUT COPY play LANEWAY FESTIVAL with Beach House, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Deerhunter, Les Savy Fav, The Antlers and many more at the Footscray Community Arts Centre on Saturday February 5. Zonoscope will hit stores this Friday February 4 through Modular.