Cut Copy
Future Music|Autumn 2020
Cut Copy
With its overt nod to climate change, Cut Copy’s sixth album Freeze, Melt is their most contemplative to date. Danny Turner delves into its making
Danny Turner

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia electropop veterans Cut Copy were established almost 20 years ago by former graphic designer Dan Whitford. The band’s debut album Bright Like Neon Love (2004) flew under the radar, but the follow-up In Ghost Colours (2008) truly signalled their intentions, hitting No. 1 in their homeland and attracting global critical acclaim.

The group took a more radical approach to their latest release, Freeze, Melt. Conceived by Whitford in Copenhagen, demos were file-shared to globally dispersed band members Tim Hoey (guitars), Ben Browning (bass), and Mitchell Scott (drums). The collective then regrouped at Melbourne’s Park Orchards Studios to complete the album.

Going full circle, Whitford and crew returned to Scandinavia and Christoffer Berg‘s Svenska Grammofon Studios in Gothenberg to mix. The result is a stripped back, emotive and more electronic-oriented collection of songs, drenched in warm layers of monochromatic synths, ambient textures and Whitford’s mellow, reflective vocals.

You’ve been compared to bands like Daft Punk, Fleetwood Mac or The Human League. Is that flattering or lazy? Dan Whitford:

“Both. I love all of those artists – they’re part of the canon of electronic music, but in my mind, we represent something a bit more than that. Journalists will often hear synths and an emotional chorus on a song and make the most obvious comparison, but our influences go a lot deeper. I started collecting records in the mid-to-late ’90s and my research crosses so many genres that a lot of different sounds infiltrate our music.”

The new album, Freeze, Melt was conceived in Copenhagen. Were you on a writing retreat?

“It was more of a lifestyle decision. Despite touring the world with the band, I’d lived in Melbourne all my life and wanted to be based somewhere else for a while. Europe’s appealing as you can jump on a plane and be in any number of countries within an hour and my girlfriend got a job in Copenhagen. I barely took any gear with me, just my laptop, a soundcard, microphone, MIDI keyboard and a guitar, but it wasn’t long before my electronic gear addiction kicked in and I was scouring the second-hand stores for things to make weird noises with. That was the beginning of me starting this album with a whole new palette of sounds.”

Does the title relate to the sub-zero conditions you were working in?

“Well yes, partly. Until I got to Copenhagen I didn’t realize that what we call seasons in Australia are just different shades of summer. It rains a lot, which was part of the connection to the album title but, thematically, it was more about the different emotional states I was feeling and our current effect on global warming.”

It’s certainly a more emotive and introspective album than we’ve heard from you before...

“The mood I have indefinitely added a watermark to it. I was often riding my bike to the studio through sideways snowstorms and stuff, so by the time I got to the studio I was more inclined to make something sparse, dark, and minimal than breezy and summery. That definitely imprinted on the music a little, but also it’s about the stage our career is at as a band. We collectively felt that we wanted to try something slightly different. While working on the demos, there was a sense that some of the sounds were heading in a colder, more synthetic direction, which was something we were keen to lean into and push as far as we could.”

How did that work with you being separated from the rest of the band?

“Thankfully, in the age, we’re living in, bands can manage to stay together and make albums despite living on different sides of the world, so it was necessary to file-share in order to complete anything. It was probably the first time we’d made an album that way until it got to a point where we needed to get in a room together to complete it.”

Does the album’s simplicity reflect that experience of lasering in on what’s important?

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Autumn 2020