Cut Copy is enjoying their second week in the Top 10 of the Dance/Electronic album charts with their latest, “Free Your Mind,” based largely on the support of a loyal fanbase and the success of a few innovative marketing efforts. You can watch their performance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” from earlier this week below.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, the indie dance band has made notable efforts to tour North America regularly since they cracked the U.S. market with 2008’s “In Ghost Colours.” It’s a plan that has not only paid off in earning their third career Top 10 on the Dance chart and a Top 100 debut on the Billboard 200 (not to mention a Grammy nomination in 2012 for their previous record, “Zonoscope”), but touring has become a part of their creative process as well.
“You want to feel inspired all the time,” singer Dan Whitford explains. “When we’re out on the road we use that as a tool. [We’re] going around looking at galleries, films, going and seeing bands and kind of being surrounded by art, music and culture. Inevitably that leads back to what we’re doing.”
According to Whitford, the sessions for “Free Your Mind,” began with about 80 songs, eventually narrowed down to the 14 tracks, including four interludes that make up the album. Thematically, the album is an exploration of love, emotion, and consciousness-raising material the collection’s title would imply. Musically, the group is more experimental than they’ve been before, loosening the structural formalities of their songwriting style (a process that began on “Zonoscope”) and infusing songs with a freewheeling psychedelic-inspired electronicism.
“It’s about finding that moment of being inspired and wanting to really explore new ideas for each record,” says Whitford. “I think we’ve been successfully able to do that, even though each of our records claim a new bit of territory.”
Most of “Free Your Mind’s” songs extend to nearly five minutes, if not longer, affirming that despite their affinity for hooky choruses, bright sounds and lyrics about love, this is not an act concerned with pandering to pop conventions. If the crowd responses during their just-concluded North American tour are any indication, this left-of-center approach is part of what Cut Copy’s fans find so appealing.
“You’ve got to maintain a level of honesty with what you’re doing otherwise your audience will see straight through it,” says guitarist Tim Hoey. “We always maintain that if you’re being honest with what you’re doing you’ll always find an audience with it. That’s been our philosophy from day one.”
“You always have to go back to what it was that pushed you to make music in the first place and really think like that guy whenever you make a record and not be sort of concerned about how do we play this live, are we going to do this at festivals, is this going to be better than the last thing we did,” adds Whitford. “All we’ve ever done is make music. I wouldn’t know what else to do.”
“The other parts of our brains are no longer functioning,” Hoey jokes.
The band shrugs off any question of pressure they might have felt – from their label, their fans, or the notoriously snarky Australian pop culture media – to match or top the success of their previous releases. In part, that’s what the title of the album refers to.
“We just focus on the music part rather than all these other things,” Whitford admits. “We just make music for our own enjoyment. It’s a bit selfish really.”