Cut Copy: Wine Bottles And Electronic Beats

Dec 28, 2011
Originally published on December 29, 2011 6:03 am

As 2011 winds down, Morning Edition is looking at music we missed over the past 12 months. Cut Copy has been entertaining its fans for more than a decade with electronic music that mashes together all sorts of genres, from pop to ancient tribal music. The Australian group is led by Dan Whitford, who didn't think he had a future in music growing up.

"I never sort of considered myself to be particularly musical," Whitford says in an interview with NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "I actually got told that I wasn't musical and sort of couldn't sing fairly early on when I was in school."

Ten years ago, Whitford was just out of high school, working as a DJ and experimenting with beats on a computer. He made some demos "just for the hell of it," found people who liked his sound and formed the band that became Cut Copy.

A decade later, the group is touring the world and playing at festivals in front of thousands of fans at a time. More than a few music writers have compared Cut Copy's sound to another Australian band, Men At Work, but Cut Copy's members say it's not an intentional 1980s throwback. At the same time, however, Whitford says he isn't afraid to take inspiration directly from music he loves.

"I just listen to records and think, 'That's kind of a cool sound, how do we get that?' " he says.

For example, for the opening percussion in "Need You Now," from Cut Copy's latest album, Zonoscope, the band drew inspiration from Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

"There's this bit at the start where basically he'd fill different wine bottles with different amounts of water," Whitford says. "We thought that's a pretty cool idea, and we actually had some wine bottles sort of kicking around in the studio, strangely enough, so we set up that same idea and got them in tune with the track and played it."

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Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This week, we're looking back at music we missed in 2011. Today, "Zonoscope," the latest album by the band Cut Copy. The Australian band made a name for itself with its poppy, danceable electronic sound. The group's led by Dan Whitford who, when he was a kid, did not think he had a future in music.

DAN WHITFORD: I never sort of considered myself to be particularly musical. In fact, I think I actually got told I wasn't musical and sort of couldn't sing fairly early on when I was in school.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE ME OVER")

CUT COPY: (Singing) Do you hear that voice inside your head, whispering to live your dreams instead? Some people cling to what they know, but I woke up, now it's time to go.

WERTHEIMER: Ten years ago, Dan Whitford was just out of high school, DJ-ing and experimenting with beats on a computer. He made some demos and played them for folks around Melbourne.

WHITFORD: I kind of just did it for the hell of it.

WERTHEIMER: His demos got attention, and Cut Copy was born.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE ME OVER")

COPY: (Singing) Take me over, now take me out, give me something to dream about.

WERTHEIMER: A decade later, Cut Copy is touring the world, playing at festivals in front of thousands of fans. More than a few music writers have compared its sound to another Australian group, the '80s band Men at Work. The members of Cut Copy say it's not an intentional throwback. But at the same time, Dan Whitford is not afraid to take inspiration directly from music he loves.

WHITFORD: You know, really, I just listen to records and think, well, that's a cool sound. You know, how do we get that? We'd sort of been listening to a Michael Jackson track, and there's this bit at the start where, basically, he's filled different wine bottles with different amounts of water.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH")

WHITFORD: We thought, that's a pretty cool idea. And we actually had some wine bottles sort of kicking around in the studio, strangely enough. So we set up that same idea and got them in tune with the track and played it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE ME OVER")

WHITFORD: We sort of listen to a lot of different records and a lot of things that maybe don't sort of seemingly relate to one another and, I guess, bridge maybe some of the gaps in-between different types of music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE ME OVER")

WERTHEIMER: That's Dan Whitford of Cut Copy. The band's latest album is "Zonoscope." You can hear more at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.