Nostalgic anthems soaked in euphoria: We chat to Cut Copy about latest number Haiku From Zero

It’s fair to say Cut Copy are an electronic quartet we all know and love, responsible for creating soundtracks that have seen us through our earlier days of hitting the town, from our first music festival to the weekly Saturday night house party.

From releasing their first record Bright Like Neon Love in 2004, it’s refreshing to see that these Aussie groove makers are still making bangers 13 years on.

Since their memorable records like In Ghost Colours in 2008 and Free Your Mind in 2013, Cut Copy have returned from their unofficial hiatus with a mind-blowing new record, Haiku From Zero.

With all four band members now living on opposite sides of the planet, it’s beyond us how they’ve managed to pull off yet another impressive body of work. We chatted to Tim to talk the ingenuity behind Haiku From Zero, how they made it possible and where they’re all at now in life.

cut copy interview happy mag
Photo: Jimmy Fontaine

Nostalgic of their previous material yet entirely modern, after listening to Haiku From Zero one time over we’re already certain it’s an instant crowd pleaser.

HAPPY: Hey Tim, what’s been happening?

TIM: Hey! I’m currently on the west coast of America, on my way to LA to start rehearsals for the upcoming shows.

HAPPY: Awesome! Can you run us through what you’ve all been up to in the last four years?

TIM: As far as personally and creatively, after Free Your Mind we took a bit of time out and Dan worked on the Oceans Apart compilation, which he put out on our label. We also worked on January Tape which was the ambient project we did in conjunction with Sugar Mountain Festival a couple years ago, and between all that we started working for this record, but it was very loose. We’d work on it when there was time or we felt compelled to do it. And I guess we all are living in different parts of the world, like I live in New York, Ben’s in DC now, Dan’s in Copenhagen and Mitchell’s still in Melbourne.

HAPPY: Any life changes worth noting since the release of Free Your Mind?

TIM: Mitchell’s had kids, so that’s pretty massive and life changing. Ben got married, but he actually may have been married when we were touring last… apart from that living internationally is one of the biggest changes going on.

HAPPY: And I guess that’s why the album was recorded in five different destinations, because you all live apart?

TIM: Exactly right. It began in Melbourne when Dan was still living there and I was there for a few months and we began working on stuff. We started working on the January Tape and it had its genesis there, but as we moved to different countries it became more of sharing files and sharing ideas and then we all got together at the end of last year in Atlanta to finish recording and writing the record.

HAPPY: Feel The Love and Lights and Music were anthems for a lot of people growing up, myself included. Is Haiku From Zero nostalgic to earlier Cut Copy, or is there a new musical direction?

TIM: Haha, nice! Well it’s always going to sound like Cut Copy. There’s some tangible quality to each record that makes it ours. Whether that’s Dan’s voice and his singing, I don’t know, but with this record I think it sounds more like a band for 90% of the record, which was a bit of a reflection of our live shows which would be an interpretation of the albums. But after ten years of touring we wanted to try and capture that energy of the live show, so we thought ‘why don’t we record this as a band and together in a room?’, which was quite ironic considering we all moved to different parts of the world and wanted to make a band-sounding record. It’s contradictory in a way but it sort of just happened.

HAPPY: What are the lyrical ideas or themes behind Haiku From Zero?

TIM: It’s tough, I’ve kind of left that with Dan. With previous Cut Copy records they’d be really concept heavy and we’d build the music around the concept, but this time we let the music dictate what direction the record was going in and the concept evolved from that. Dan wrote all the lyrics but something he spoke about was this idea of being constantly bombarded with information and imagery in the digital world and at times it’s overwhelming and not aesthetically pleasing. Like you’re on the internet and there’s stuff popping up at you all the time and a constant barrage of images and you’re not really taking it in, it’s just washing over you.

Cut Copy Haiku From Zero album Cover

HAPPY: Does that also resonate with the album artwork?

TIM: Exactly. A lot of people ask what the hell is this artwork? Its like if you Google image something, its almost like clip art or something taking out random parts of random images and putting them together. Like symbols and stuff like that. There’s this idea of trying to find the beauty in all this information overload so I guess that comes across in some of the lyrics and, as you said, in the artwork.

HAPPY: Who was the artist?

TIM: It was Dan, Dan did all the artwork.

HAPPY: Oh wow, cool.

TIM: Yeah. He’s done the artwork for every record, his graphic design company have been on board for nearly all the records and he did this one as well. I don’t know if he planned this one but he just started putting ideas together and sent them to me and I sent him back stuff we were like yeah, this is an interesting direction. So yeah, it was all Dan.

HAPPY: What’s your favourite track off the new record?

TIM: It changes but I guess straight off the bat was Standing In The Middle Of The Field, I think that was the first song where I thought this was something. It sounds quite modern and not too retro to me which I really like and it touches upon the stuff Cut Copy does really well, anthemic choruses and slow builds. It’s something you can immerse yourself in and exist in the club but also at home. I think that was the track rally stood out early on and probably still does today.

HAPPY: Did any tracks not make the record? Tell me about them?

TIM: There were a few demos we didn’t work on in Atlanta and one we did for days, and then we scrapped it and came back to it and scrapped it and came back to it. I think we scrapped it like three times and in the end realised it wasn’t working. There’s a few tracks that didn’t make the record, there’s some laying around, yeah.

HAPPY: The album went up on NPR a few days early – how has the response been?

TIM: Good! I’ve tried not to pay too much attention to it. At this point releasing an album is tough for us, it’s a combo of anxiety and excitement and we want to get it out there. It’s not ours anymore, it’s everyone else’s to have and they can live with it and enjoy it. We try to stand behind what we’ve made and it seems like people have been into it from the feedback we’ve been getting which is great.

HAPPY: So there’s still a sense of nervousness for you, releasing an album?

TIM: Yeah, definitely. And I think if there wasn’t then I don’t know why you would do it anymore. I thin there has to be a sense of excitement and questioning about what your doing and I think that helps you move forward. Its really important although it doesn’t really help your health….haha. But that’s what’s so great about creating something, having that anxiety involved in it.

HAPPY: Well, from streaming it last night its fair to say it’s going to be my new party anthem.

TIM: Oh good, I’m glad we can still make the party anthems after all these years.

HAPPY: You’ve doing shows overseas, Beyond The Valley, and other Australian festivals…are you guys planning anything come 2018?

TIM: We’re trying to figure that out now. Over summer we would definitely love to do more in Australia so were trying to figure out when to do more and I think coming back and doing Splendour in August and smaller headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne reminded us we haven’t done that in Australia in a really long time. Also it was kind of good to get back home and play shows, its just a lot more difficult with us all living international, and our crew are all international too. So coming back home is like the hardest thing to organise now, but we’d definitely love to get back and do more over summer, so we’d love to get together in the next few months or so.

HAPPY: We can’t wait for it.

TIM: Yeah, us too!


Catch Cut Copy live in Australia:

Beyond The Valley Festival, 28 Dec – 1 Jan – Lardner Park, VIC – Tickets
Lost Paradise Festival, 28 Dec – 31 Dec – Glenworth Valley, NSW – Tickets