ICON: Freeze, Melt is the result of spending a winter living in Copenhagen. Were there any standout influences that shaped the albums creation?
Dan Whitford: “Yeah, I think probably just being in a different place was a big part of it. I lived in Melbourne pretty much all my life even though I’ve done a lot of touring over the years but as far as relocating, it’s the first time I’ve done that. I think just being in Copenhagen, different surroundings and scenes and climate so I think part of what I was excited about going there was, just not taking all this baggage from previous history in Melbourne.
“I brought barely any equipment across, I think I had a guitar and a keyboard and my laptop and that was it.”
I didn’t bring any records with me; I have a big record collection but just left it at home in storage. So it was almost like going there and starting fresh and that was something I was excited about, just the idea of not just jumping in where we left off with the last album but actually really finding something new in a new direction and that’s what I think we did.”
Hailing from Australia, what does travelling lend to the creative process of your music? Have you found it a necessary aspect?
DW: “Yeah definitely, I think particularly right now, in the middle of COVID lockdown it’s become a lot more apparent – the touring and performing and the creative process for me… It’s a weird repeating cycle that every time there’s a new album out, you launch it out into the world and you’re travelling for the next 12 months or so and then you come home and you’re a homebody for however long it takes to make the new music. That somehow balances over time but I’ve noticed having spent a long period of time at home and now we plan to be touring all this year and that’s been cancelled so it’s a little bit difficult, that reset you’d have by going out and touring and being exposed to new artists or buying records or travelling. That sort of thing can’t happen this time around and I don’t feel like it’s a complete thing for me right now, I feel like there’s something lacking.”
Cut Copy has expanded since the early days. Was that always intentional?
DW: “No, it wasn’t the intention. I signed back in the early 2000’s as a solo artist and that was basically a bedroom musician – I had a few keyboards and mucked around and ended up making a few songs that I liked and got signed off the back of it. So that was my world back then. Then in the process of making our first album, I’d made a bunch of tracks and thought, what if I sent this across to my mate Tim, who’s like more of a guitar guy and he recorded a track with his guitar and bass and sent it back. I was like wow, this is actually really interesting idea combining the guitar bass sounds he was doing with the electronic stuff I was doing in my bedroom and that was the genesis of Cut Copy as more of a band. Once I finished that album I was like, okay, we need to get a band together to do this. Find a drummer and bass player and get out there. So it really just evolved.”
What have been the challenges in working as a group as opposed to just one or two people?
DW: “Well I guess we’re all different people with different opinions on things. It’s inevitable, you can’t agree on everything, I think we’ve been pretty good over the years. Generally, our perspective on things match up in the long run. But you can’t always agree on everything and sometimes there’s an idea, maybe in the studio, there’s a song that you’re really attached to and no one else likes. Those are the things you have to work through. It’s like any relationship… So, in the long run it’s an enriching thing.”
The album was finalised at Svenska Grammofon Studion in Gothenburg, home to the legendary Neve Console. What was it like creating an album using the same equipment that Bowie, Queen, Aretha Franklin and countless other timeless artists used?
DW: It was pretty amazing, it’s a weird intangible quality in some respects, working with gear like that because it’s like it has ghosts inhabiting it or some sort of weird aurora of these amazing records that hopefully are channelling in the music you are doing and making it better. But I’m a massive historian and collecting records and for me these kinds of weird connections are the things I live for, like the idea of being in the same studio that someone worked or using the same equipment.
“It was cool and ironically that particular desk had some real technical issues with it when we were working on it.”
I think we actually lost a day because things weren’t working, and we couldn’t get sound through it. We had to get a tech in to fix it. But I’m glad we had the opportunity.”
Next year you’re celebrating 20 years on the music scene, what has been the biggest changes in the industry for you since 2001?
DW: “The internet, it’s reached everything. It’s really amazing just thinking across our four or five albums, every single album we have made, there’s been a different format that’s been the go-to way of releasing things. Initially it was CD’s then MP3 downloads and now across to streaming, obviously vinyls are in there somewhere but the dominant way we listen to music has changed, two or three times across the course of our career which is pretty crazy. So, it’s almost like each time we’ve come out with a new album we have torn up the rule book from the last time we released an album. So, it’s been interesting, I’m curious to see where things head from hereon in. ”
Looking back now, can you pinpoint the “I’ve made it” moment?
DW: “Yeah, it’s a tough question. I would be able to identify that a bit more by looking back, I’ve always been someone who looks forward. Everyone has some pretty amazing periods in their careers, it’s never been a ‘Wow, we really made it now’, it’s always been ‘Ok, what’s the next thing.’ I think certainly getting our first album out and getting to tour the U.S. for the first time, some of those experiences were really amazing. Then our second album becoming number 1 in Australia and getting to play with Daft Punk in front of 30,000 or 40,000 people. I wouldn’t say money is a great reason to get into the music industry, but all these experiences have their own value and you can’t put a price on the memories you come away with and that’s been really cool for us.”
The pandemic has squashed the music industry. How does it feel releasing music during this time?
DW: “It’s difficult, I think we were caught in two minds at the start of the year when we realised that COVID was hitting and it looked unlikely we would be unable to tour, at least for a while this year and now it looks like not at all. So, we were thinking, like most musicians, we rely of live music and income from playing shows and festivals and that’s basically how we survive, not from other means. So, we were thinking, we made this album, but we can’t actually tour it, we can’t pay our rent or make money to survive from. We considered delaying it, but then we just thought there’s so many people in the same position and fans that would really appreciate getting some new music from us and it would give us something to focus on from this year. We can at least connect with our fans and get some good karma that comes back to us. It’s a bit doom and gloom here at the moment but getting music out makes me feel a bit better.”
You’ve picked up awards and nominations across the Grammy’s, ARIAs and J Awards and played sold out shows across various continents including Coachella and Primavera Sound. With so many accomplishments, what’s next for Cut Copy?
DW: “Hopefully we survive it, I think like everyone we are trying to keep the goals simple at the moment and I think looking too far ahead is a mistake because we just don’t know what’s coming. So, I think we are all just trying to hang in there at the moment, times are pretty tough for a lot of people so we are just trying to get through the short terms but we’d love to come out of this and get to perform some shows to fans next year if that’s a possibility and certainly in the interim work on some new music to get out there. It’s all sort of very hard to know what you’re going to be doing in a few months’ time because things are changing from week to week. We’d love to play to people and see the fans responding to the new tracks as well.”
Cut Copy drops its sixth studio album ‘Freeze, Melt’ on August 21. For more from the band, visit their website here.