Cut Copy guitarist and sampler Tim Hoey is feeling positive about their upcoming release, Free Your Mind. “I actually feel really good. I don’t feel anxious at all this time. But maybe ask me at the end of the week.” If you’ve ever danced – like, ever – then you probably know and love Cut Copy. The Melbourne act is born of a time that saw themselves, The Presets and Midnight Juggernauts unexpectedly take to the charts when dirty rock – with The Vines and Jet – seemed to own the airwaves. By the time 2008’s In Ghost Colours dropped with lead single ‘Hearts On Fire’, a change in the wind had secured Cut Copy a place in the mainstream.
But sitting at Universal HQ overlooking Sydney Harbour, Hoey seems gracefully unaffected by his band’s popularity. In the lead-up to the release of Free Your Mind, Cut Copy’s fourth studio album, Hoey is drinking what must be one of many coffees today, and remaining nonchalant about working under the spotlight. “It’s funny, now’s the time to kind of enjoy it,” he says. “I guess you work so hard for like a year – or a year and a half – on a record, and now other people finally get to hear it. So this is the good time. I think it would be a lie for me to say that you don’t get anxious at times, but I think there’s no way we’d ever put something out that we didn’t believe in one hundred per cent ourselves. We’ve kind of always maintained … that if you’re honest with what you’re doing then there’ll be an audience for it, so you just have to keep reminding yourself that.”
Later mixed by Dave Fridmann (MGMT, Tame Impala, Flaming Lips), the making of Free Your Mind was unlike any previous Cut Copy record, inspiring frontman Dan Whitford towards a new approach to songwriting. “The process that we did for this record was completely different to the last one,” says Hoey. “Like, just writing a lot of music and not thinking about themes too early on. The idea was to never second-guess anything. The process started out with a song a day or an idea a day, and once the day finished [we’d] start with something completely new and not overthink it. And then when we went into the studio to start really shaping these ideas into songs, we applied the same principle of never over-working it or second-guessing it. The first time you do something is generally the best, we found.” And it looks like they’re right: “Every song is very much uplifting and it kind of goes for the jugular a bit more in every track.”
For psychedelic synth title track ‘Free Your Mind’, the foursome had celebrity mate Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, The East, Melancholia) star in the video. While unwinding after a gig in Rio, Hoey and the others were told by the promoter that Skarsgard is a big fan and would love to meet them. They all ended up hanging out for the night and shared brekkie the next morning. Two years on, ‘Free Your Mind’ film clip director Chris Hill pushed the boys – who didn’t want to stretch the friendship – to ask Skarsgard to feature. “So we had to move the show within a week from Australia to LA – ’cause he only had two days free between film projects to really make a clip – and so it was a huge day; it was like a 17-hour shoot and he did it purely for the love as well, and just ’cause he was a fan and a friend. It was just really amazing to see him work … Before every scene he’d be like, ‘OK, so what was happening in the scene before, what should I be feeling walking into this room?’ It was amazing that he was able to find the time and make the time to do it.”
But having a film star on board isn’t all that’s landed Hoey, Whitford, Ben Browning and Mitchell Scott a little extra attention. After unveiling single ‘Let Me Show You Love’at Pitchfork Music Festival by cutting it to vinyl in real time, Cut Copy came back to release Free Your Mind in another unconventional way, placing huge billboards in six specific and remote locations across the globe (the Californian desert, Chile, Western Australia, Mexico City, Wales and Detroit). With the help of a laptop or smartphone, dedicated fans would be the first in the world to hear the track.
“We wanted to create real world events for releasing music,” says Hoey. “We didn’t want to just put a song up on the internet – we just feel like that’s such an anti-climax for releasing music. So we liked this idea that the song only existed in this place where you had to be and interact with it to listen to it. It was always going to go up on the internet a few hours after, but we liked that for this short amount of time it just existed for the people that were there to experience it. And they could take that away and that would be something they could kind of have forever … it’s just this really romantic idea and a bit more exciting.”
BY RACHEL EDDIE
Free Your Mindout Friday November 1 through Modular Recordings.