In Dan Whitfords
pursuit of a producer for his debut album,
Cut Copy's Bright Like Neon Love,
he and label Modular Recordings hit on
the idea of getting a more renowned 80s
pop mogul to lend some studio flair to
Cut Copy's synth-driven, melancholy, love
song opus. As it turns out, the problem
of the 80s was simply surviving them.
"We had a shortlist of producers who had done stuff back in the day. But
pretty much every request came back and that they'd either died or were in
rehab, or they'd become tired or a recluse," laughed Whitford. "All of these
people had dropped out of the producing game for some particular reason. It
was like 80s had destroyed them all."
A combination of Whitford's own studio
machinations and the four-piece Cut Copy
band, the Bright Like Neon Love's
demo reel encompassed a variety of influences.
From the obvious affection for 80s acts
like New Order and Human League to melodies
from the likes of the Beach Boys and Fleetwood
Mac, it was still very much grounded to
indie rock roots from Whitfords native
Whitford wanted to get a producer who loved music, in all its myriad and
wonderful forms, as much as he did. He found an unlikely fan in Philippe
Zdar, the French house don probably best known for his work behind Cassius
"One of my favorite recent albums is by the French group Phoenix. We had
found out that Philippe did the some of
the mixing and production," Whitford said.
While Zdars filtered disco touch is certainly
heard on "That Was Just a Dream," Whitford
said the Frenchman mostly made polishes
rather than wholesale changes to Cut Copy's
material. "He was quite mindful of keeping
the spirit of it," said Whitford of Zdar.
"He's obviously done dance music for a
while, but the stuff that he was most
keen to work on (with us) was the indie
rock stuff. In his youth, Philippe was
actually involved with French punk bands
and rock stuff."
Not that Whitford was necessarily opposed to Zdars potential tweaking,
anyway. Cut Copy's entire approach musically has demanded a certain amount
of adaptation. "Half the record was written with the guys from the band
Mitchell on drums, Tim on guitar and Bennett on keys and bass. The other
half was written in the studio," said Whitford.
"There's a bunch of synths that we play live ... about two or three synths
we take us all the time plus a sampler," he continued. "Two of the guys in
the band are big fans of Sonic Youth, so there's that kind of thing going
Whitfords diverse musical interests has also necessitated expanding Cut
Copy into an umbrella concept encompassing the band, Cut Copy Live, and his
own dabbling into the realm of turntablism, Cut Copy DJs. "It's kind of
confusing sometimes because people show up expecting one or the other. It
can be kind of funny," he said.
Bucking expectations is par for the course for Cuty Copy, however. Or at
least fitting in. "The majority of stuff in Australia is more on a rock
edge, particularly the sort of the bands like the Vines and now Jet. We do
have a good solid fan base in Oz, but I was hoping it was going to have a
good solid release in Europe and America," he said.
Achieving that kind of success, hence acceptance, has also entailed Cut
Copys open-arms policy with regards to gigs. "When we actually play live as
a band, were not really playing with people exactly like we are," he said.
"I mean, we make an effort to play with people we like, but they're not
necessarily the same style as us. We've played with sort of hardcore bands.
We also recently finished a tour with Junior Senior from Denmark. You
shouldn't box yourself into one particular niche."
Whitford, in turn, can readily extol the virtues of the likes of the Steve
Miller Band and ELO, and he'll also happily sell up Montreal electro house
producers Chromeo. Whitford recently shared the decks in New York with
Chromeo, who also provided a remix for Cuty Copy's first single, "Future."
In spite of the influences and the current vogue of 80s retro in music,
Whitford said Cut Copy may be paying homage, but they're not, well, copying
anyone. "I dont think theres anything I specifically try and emulate or
anything. (Bright Like Neon Love) is quite a pop record. In the long run, it
kind of makes things more interesting when you dont know what youre going
You can get Cut Copy's Bright Like
Neon Love album in stores right now.
buy their CD here
- written by Yuri Wuensch