Touring often, Cut Copy guitarist Tim Hoey is always glad to get home to Melbourne. “Coming back home is my way of decompressing,” he says. “When you tour you’re in a bubble. It’s a very unnatural way of living and takes it’s toll physically and mentally. So when I get home I see it as a place to get grounded again before the next phase”.
The last phase was an extensive US tour DJing with Cut Copy bandmate Dan Whitford. The tour ran from July to September of 2015 and followed the popular Oceans Apart compilation released via Whitford’s Cutters label. A snapshot of Melbourne’s underground dance music scene, the compilation features the likes of No Zu, Roland Tings and Tornado Wallace, and was an instant favourite among indie music blogs and press.
“Oceans Apart was also good because when [Cut Copy] is away we miss so much of the music that is going on in Melbourne” says Hoey. “We’ll return to see all these great musicians and producers have appeared, so we decided if we can use our name to really push what they’re doing and their creative outlets then we should"
As one half of Cut Copy DJs, Hoey never saw the side project going places. “We’d never actually done a solely DJ tour before, we usually just DJ after shows” he says. “But after Oceans Apart came out we wanted to promote it, so we saw DJing as a way we could play those songs and get them out there."
Forming in 2001, Cut Copy have gone from playing club venues in Australia to music festivals worldwide. But true to Hoey’s statement, stacks of new festivals and live music spaces have cropped up in Melbourne during their absence. Piknic Electronik, hosted in the Paddock at Federation Square, is one such example. It also happens to be Cut Copy DJs’ next public appearance. Piknic Electronik holds dance music events in such party capitals as Barcelona, Montreal and Sydney. The Melbourne incarnation is happening every Sunday evening until April, and this weekend sees Cut Copy DJs joined by Phil K and Christian Vance.
“Being a DJ is so different now to, say, five or ten years ago,” says Hoey. “The Internet gives anyone access to new music so quickly. Inevitably we have song requests for music that even we haven’t heard yet. The time when DJs were tastemakers is kind of passed. So apart from wanting to showcase music like what went out on Oceans Apart, we’re constantly on the hunt for new and old music that maybe crowds haven’t heard before”.
With the rise of electronic music technology, the line between what is a live show and what is a DJ set is easily blurred, with either performer just as likely to be behind a laptop. “I never thought I’d have to think about putting on a whole show just DJing before” says Hoey. “Though sometimes Cut Copy is the only band on a lineup and everyone looks confused when we walk out with guitars. It’s funny, because DJs are centre stage now too, and you’re raised up from the audience whose eyes are on you the whole time even when you’re blasting techno. It’s not easy to say where dance music ends and any other electronic live show begins.
In the midst of their DJing duties, Cut Copy have been working on a new album. As far as the recording process goes, it’s occurred outside of the chaotic, unnatural bubble of life on the road. “We took a short break when the Free Your Mind tour finished up because we realised we were just going from record to tour then record again for too long. We consciously made the decision this time that other projects could get some attention. So it wasn’t until nearly mid last year that we got together again, but we finally have a strong pool of tracks that we can choose from. All very much influenced by the stuff that Dan and I have been getting into over the past year and DJing."
BY HANNAH JOYNER
CUT COPY DJS, Christian Vance (live) and Phil K are playing at Piknic Electronik Melbourne on Sunday February 14 at The Paddock, Federation Square.