The past few years have been a cultural renaissance for dance music, but it's been a recession for dance bands. Most great electronic albums are born out of a single entity, a laptop, and a myriad of beatmaking programs. Cut Copy, however, is among the few that arrived as a fully formed, musician-based group of performers, perfectly capable of both mulching a dance floor with a booming single or dominating a stage with their syncopated movements. They achieved well-deserved crossover success back in 2008 with the release of In Ghost Colours, and their recently announced Zonoscope has shot up the anticipation lists of every music nerd regardless of whether they bookmark Gorilla vs. Bear or Resident Advisor. Here, the band discusses the new album and the state of Cut Copy.
So are you guys excited to start touring the new songs?
Definitely. Anyone deep in the creative process obviously wants the public to hear what you’re working on. It’s just an odd thing with music -- the gap between writing, recording, producing, mastering and finally releasing an album. Finally playing the new stuff live will be awesome. As long as they can hear it, whether it be on the radio … or downloading it for free, more likely.
When you played “Where I’m Going” at Lollapalooza this year, it had just been released as a promotional download, but it seemed like the crowd knew the song, the hook, and the lyrics. Did that surprise you, given how new it was?
Yeah, that was a song we added to our live set, and it went over well -- people obviously knew it. And I guess that just points to the fact that you don’t really need a physical release in order for people to know your music. It was out for a very short time, but people can get new music so quickly with the Internet, which can be a really good thing.
Lollapalooza seemed like a big moment for you guys. It was a giant American audience on a big stage.
I’d say it’s definitely one of our career highlights; it was certainly the biggest U.S. shows we’ve played and one of the biggest crowds overall. It was just one of those moments: nighttime, the Chicago skyline, the big enthusiastic crowd. It was a realization that we’ve got to do some pretty amazing stuff and play some pretty amazing shows.
The cover of Zonoscope is a photo collage of New York swept away in a waterfall, and you were quoted as saying it “summed up exactly what you wanted to get across.” Can you elaborate?
The image is very mechanical in one sense, but also incredibly organic in another. It’s also very grand in scope, which I think is well represented on the record. Working on the album I kept picturing a struggle between regulated mechanics and organic sounds – both sonically and lyrically. And people seem to be into it, we’ve gotten a lot of comments on how much they like the image.
“Take Me Over” is the album’s first official single. To me it sounds a little calmer than some of your other big singles, like “Lights & Music” or “Hearts on Fire."
I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a calm song, but when you’re working on the album for such a long period of time you’re bound to lose perspective on how some things sound. But it’s been interesting getting feedback on the songs because people have been hearing them in radically different ways. And “Hearts on Fire” and “Lights & Music” are definitely more dance-floor-oriented tunes, while “Where I’m Going” doesn’t really operate like that. But there are other songs on the record that have a much more electronic feel to them.
Zonoscope is coming out almost exactly three years after In Ghost Colours, and In Ghost Colours took you guys a solid four years to make. Why do you think that’s the case?
We still think three years is a long time, and we’d like to be getting music out much quicker. But there are always delays. This record could’ve come out a lot quicker. But between the first two records there was a lot more time for touring, and the record was released on a bunch of different dates across the world. But we’ve gotten better at scheduling and timing, and Zonoscope will be coming out at about the same time regardless of country.
Cut Copy is incredibly popular in your native Australia, and I remember one of you was quoted as saying the fame is “surreal.” It’s been two years since you blew up. Is it still surreal?
We don’t really feel our band fits in the world where bands are charting, and it’s not that we don’t think we should be popular; it’s just not something we’ve ever aimed for. Our goal was simply to be artistic and write good records and have a positive response from that. It still seems surreal, especially with this record, and talking about getting hits and chart play -- it’s always seemed a little irrelevant to us.
So you guys don’t feel like pop stars?
Pretty far from it.