Cut Copy Will Free Your Mind

29_CutCopyPhoto: Courtesy of Cut Copy. Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Four albums in, Australian act Cut Copy has perfected its house-inflected synth-pop to a near science. But, the band's new album, Free Your Mind, hearkens back the simpler days of early rave culture and the so-called second summer of love. "This kind of euphoric, uplifting feeling was really common on a lot of the tracks we worked on," says front man Dan Whitford, who took the Madchester dance scene as a key inspiration. The album release is also celebrating the pre-Internet days of yore by printing its first single on a vinyl lathe and calling for fans to visit far-flung billboards to hear the record. We caught up with Whitford as the band was rehearsing in Nashville to talk the new album, the "sinister" Alexander Skarsgård-starring video, and the lasting appeal of analog.

Hitting the Scene
"Coming back to Melbourne, I sort of reengaged and reconnected with some of the underground club nights and things going on. It seemed really exciting to me — a bunch of smaller artists and little scenes of people who were really dedicated to dance music. I DJ'd at a couple of these nights after getting back and became really inspired with old-school dance music and some of the stuff I got into when I first got into electronic music. Stuff like The KLF, The Orb, Orbital, 808 State, [and] some of the early U.K. house music. It was an influence on starting the record. The concept of Free Your Mind slowly emerged as the consistent feeling through a lot of what we were working on."

Free Your Dress Code
"For the last record, we sort of had this idea of being these almost business[men] going off to work in a crazy, surreal, almost-jungle-like environment. We decided to free up the dress code, so we could wear the clothes we'd normally wear rather than getting suited up. But, we've also got some interesting visual stuff, which I don't want to give away. Some interesting lighting and stage design."


Billboard Bonanza
"There's such an over-the-top amount of information being thrown at people through the Internet. It's sort of an overload situation, to the point where people's attention spans — even when good music pops up — are quite short. For us, the really interesting things that were happening were physical, or real-world events and happenings. Tim [Hoey] originally studied in fine art and always wanted to do something with a billboard. We thought — what if we got a bunch of these billboards and placed them in the most bizarre, remote locations we could think of around the world? People would have to journey to these locations to hear the new songs. That's what we ended up doing, and lots of people ended up making trips out to the California desert, the mountains in Chili, or Australian outback to listen to the new music."

Cult Fan Base
"A good friend of ours, Chris Hill, directed the clip [for 'Free Your Mind']. He's someone I used to room with when we were both studying. We sat down and workshopped a lot of the ideas leading up to the record – from the record-lathe idea to the billboard idea. We almost saw the 'Free Your Mind' video as the continuation of that. 'Free Your Mind' can be this meditative idea, it can be an uplifting idea, or it can be a more sinister interpretation. The video plays on that more sinister interpretation...obviously placing it in the commune of a cult."

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