Interview: Cuttooth

Cuttooth

“I’ve written a couple of things that I like and I feel like I’m progressing well. I’m speaking with a couple of superb vocalists but there’s nothing confirmed in that regard yet. I’m just concentrating on writing the best material that I possibly can.”

 

We interview Cuttooth, an upcoming act hailing from North East England. Many thanks to Nick Cooke for his views:

 

1. I’ve been listening to the EP and like you said, the laidback hip-hop influences really shine through, and the record certainly seems more refreshingly avant garde than most electronic stuff around. Any particular motivation for going down that road?

 

Really I just wanted to do a record that was wholly instrumental. The standout tracks on the Cuttooth LP were all vocal ones but I felt that there were a couple of strong instrumental tracks on there and I wanted to see if I could put that together into an EP. The original idea, when I spoke to Plynt way back was to do a beat tape, something a bit like Madlib’s Beat Konducta series or Rap Beats vol 1 by Samiyam. Thing is, I don’t really write beats in the same way as those guys (I don’t think), so it ended up being a little different from that stuff.

 

It was a bit of a long process making the record. I was originally going to put instrumentals on there that didn’t make the LP but I felt that was a bit of a cop out so I just wrote entirely new stuff. It was supposed to come out last December, then February, then August, and I finally got it done for November. I write really slowly and reject a lot of stuff and to be honest it was a tricky record to write anyway.

 

2. Being a small operation as you say, is that in any way helpful in letting you push your boundaries – having more freedom to experiment as compared with being on a major label?

 

I don’t really give a toss about pushing boundaries or anything like that. I learned ages ago that I can’t really control what direction my music takes when I’m writing it. Without wishing to sound pretentious, my approach to making music is a bit Zen and the art of Music Production. That whole form is emptiness, emptiness is form sort of idea where it’s just about letting it flow naturally and not trying to control everything.

 

I’m not saying I wouldn’t sign with a major but I doubt very much that any major would want to sign me so that’s really a moot point. I’d like more people to hear what I’m doing of course but I’m not willing to change my approach one iota because that would compromise what I want to do and defeat the object of creating music in the first place. I still have a lot of work to do to develop as an artist.

 

3. By the way I absolutely loved the EP, and I believe that the purely instrumental nature of the music was key. Does the fact that you’re not using vocalists liberate you in any way?

 

It’s a different approach certainly. When you’re writing tracks for vocalists you have to keep in mind the way that most vocalists like songs to be structured, often pretty rigid arrangements, clear verses, choruses etc. At least that’s how I do it. You can’t have anything that’s too bold in there because that’ll distract from the vocal so lead lines are often a bit more low key and mixed differently.

 

With instrumental stuff you can afford to have a bit more freedom. Every track needs some sort of hook, whether that be a sick drum beat, bass line, vocal, synth lead or whatever. Obviously if you’re writing for a vocalist then the vocal is usually your hook but with instrumental stuff you have a bit more freedom so you can be a bit more up front with your instrument lines.

 

Cuttooth

“The standout tracks on the Cuttooth LP were all vocal ones but I felt that there were a couple of strong instrumental tracks on there and I wanted to see if I could put that together into an EP.”

 

4. In the blurry world of crackling textures, electronica and ambient music, genres can be secondary. But the more downbeat hip-hop vibe is a major part of this album. Do you think this heralds a major shift in the music you make or was it just an experiment?

 

Not really. I’ve always considered what I do to be downbeat hip-hop. There’s electronica, abstract, dubstep and other influences that come into that but at the core of virtually everything I write you’ll find those sort of solid boom-bap drums. If anything I’m trying to get away from that a little bit and experiment with rhythms that are a little bit more varied.

 

5. You’ve had two releases this year. Looking back, has all gone to plan or do you wish you’d done some things differently?

 

It’s been OK. There’s always stuff that I would do differently with a lot of things but hindsight is always 20:20 isn’t it? I was happy with both the releases overall, I think they’re both nice little self contained worlds and they both have a feeling of fluidity and consistency to them which I like. Not sure how they’ve performed sales wise as yet because the figures don’t come back until January so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ve done. I really just want as many people as possible to hear what I’m doing because I think there’s some merit to it. It’s nowhere near the sort of standard that you’d hear from artists on Ninja Tune or Hyperdub for example but it’s getting better and for what it is I think it’s OK.

 

6. Where does Cuttooth go from here? Any other great stuff in the pipeline?

 

Yeah, I’ve been working really hard getting instrumentals together for vocalists for my next record. People seem to respond best to my vocal stuff and it’s often the material that I’m most proud of myself so I really want to push that angle over the next year or so. I’ve written a couple of things that I like and I feel like I’m progressing well. I’m speaking with a couple of superb vocalists but there’s nothing confirmed in that regard yet. I’m just concentrating on writing the best material that I possibly can.

 

Want to know more about Cuttooth? Begin by looking up Nick’s Soundcloud page, and give him a shoutout on Facebook too. Also check out our review of the Cuttooth self-titled LP put out in June.

 

 

 

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