Dance music is thriving in Melbourne, and Cut Copy wants to document it. Paying homage to the city it came from, the Grammy-nominated band has curated a 19-track peek into Melbourne’s most promising and prolific talent, and is launching it at Melbourne Music Week with a host of the album’s artists.
Dan Whitford, who started Cut Copy as a solo project in his home studio more than a decade ago, says Oceans Apart is an outsider’s entrée into Melbourne’s fertile underground scene, and a chance to give some local unknowns a leg-up.
Broadsheet: Tell us about the launch of Oceans Apart at Melbourne Music Week.
Dan Whitford: The idea behind the project was to use the profile that Cut Copy has to faithfully document what’s happening right now in Melbourne and to give these lesser-known artists a better platform. The launch will be a good way of getting the word out there and introducing this music to people who wouldn’t usually be at the underground club events. We’re thinking we might just go old school and create a rave den.
What’s so interesting about Melbourne’s dance-music scene right now?
I guess there’s always been an interesting music scene in Melbourne, but recently electronic music and dance music has had a real upsurge. After a few interesting people emerge, they spawn five more people and it creates a wider group of artists doing great things in a nice little ecosystem.
Is there a Melbourne sound?
It’s less of a sound, more of an attitude. I think a sentiment of club culture is that everyone is a bit of an outsider, a bit left of centre, and there’s a unity to that. And we have such breadth, from No Zu making percussive and boisterous stuff, to Fantastic Man making much deeper club music, through to Andras & Oscar making more futuristic R’n’B. They’re all making different music but there’s a real camaraderie.
Where do you like to go out in Melbourne now?
Animals Dancing nights are the epicentre of Melbourne’s club scene at the moment. They put on the most awesome parties, with really interesting international guests and they – Andee Frost and Tornado Wallace and Otologic –are really renowned, amazing DJs in their own right. I like that it’s a collective thing; it reminds me of early rave culture and club culture.
I see Lewie Day has made it on twice, under the monikers Tornado Wallace and Coober Pedy University Band. Is that cheating?
[Laughs] Yeah, Lewie Day is really hoggin’ the track list there. I really had a vision of pulling together as many artists as was needed to represent what’s going on at the moment, but inevitably you have to make aesthetic choices and use tracks that work together. It’s a taste but not a comprehensive list … If only a compilation could go for four hours.
What is it about the track Kookaburra that makes a party go crazy?
It’s a funny story with that track – Tom and Lewie originally wrote that song for Meredith Music Festival, trying to think of the most awesome thing you could play there at 5am to make people lose their shit, with the tribal sounds and the kookaburra [laugh]. They approached a bunch of labels with it but everyone thought it was too hectic and strange – no one got it. So they just put the record out themselves and it’s become this weird anthem. It’s dialled into the subconscious of club goers.
What’s your take on all the park parties that have sprung up in Melbourne lately?
I love it. That DIY attitude to dance culture harks back to the real beginning, when acid house started in the UK and when people started having raves in Chicago and Detroit. Obviously so many things have changed since then, but people still come together and enjoy the DIY thing.
It’s cool to see some of those guys such as Sleep D and Tornado Wallace playing at the DIY things for free and supporting that environment.
Yeah, and beyond the artists and what they give to the environment, it also creates a sense of community between people who go, and they’re equally as important to the scene.
Is there one up-and-comer on the compilation you think people will really grab on to?
Michael Ozone. He was one of these oddball characters who would turn up to Bamboo music nights in weird outfits with these strange ’90s R’n’B dance moves. I always thought he was such a strange guy but then when I heard his stuff I was really blown away. People will really gravitate towards him.
Cut Copy will launch Oceans Apart at Melbourne Music Week on November 15 at the QV Music Hub, featuring a Cut Copy DJ set, Andras & Oscar, NO ZU, Sleep D, Roland Tings and more. Tickets available here.