Dutch electronic music duo Cut_ have had a busy year so far. The band consisting of Belle and Sebastiaan released their latest EP Blind = Bliss, promoted the release with some club shows and launched a captivating video for the track ‘Trick Me’. We had a little Q&A with Belle about their latest work and their plans for the future!
What does the EP title Blind = Bliss mean to you?
“We – as humans – find comfort in turning a blind eye to situations we find difficult to deal with. We found it was a common denominator in the songs of the new EP. All the tracks touch the subject of turning away from a situation or experience that’s difficult to deal with. This ranges from not wanting to deal with getting older to having trouble overcoming a break up.”
The tracks on the EP are less poppy and more experimental than singles like ‘Undertow’, ‘Electrify’ and ‘Tune In, Tune Out’. Were you purposely going down a different road for this project?
“This was not done on purpose, but our music is a direct product of the mindset we are in. Generally our own preference tends to lean towards the darker sound and a slightly alternative composition and production anyway.”
Are there specific artists or producers around that inspire your sound?
“I would say most of the ideas originate from us, but sometimes we pick specific sounds from colleagues. For ‘Trick Me’ my vocals were directly inspired by the sound that Margrèt from Vök produces. Of course I will never sound like her, but I liked the breathiness in her way of singing and thought this quality would match the track so I tried it out and it worked. We sometimes use specific stuff like that to bring a track to a higher level. A song mostly dominates its own course. It basically feels like it already exists in some way and we just have to work out the right sounds, melodies, rhythm and words to get there. You cannot force a track to be something it is not. Of course the way we work is subject to change and we are influenced 24/7 by other artists but not always consciously so.”
You recently released a reworked version of ‘It’s On’. Does it happen more often that you keep reinventing songs after their release?
“It does not happen a lot. We were looking for a remix for this song, but Seb got inspiration and remixed it himself. For us the song felt done when we released the first version, but found out later that it could have two faces. We do look at the songs in a live setting, how they sound and feel. Sometimes they need a bit more bite to come across, plus it is fun to present songs in a slightly different manner live to keep things interesting.”
Recording together with Sebastiaan, do you guys often disagree on a lyric or how a track should sound production wise and how do you solve this?
“It does happen sometimes, but not very often these days. We have been working together for the past four years and find great trust in each other’s qualities. Sometimes I disagree with a certain sound Seb uses. I do vocalise my doubt but I’ve learned I also have to give him time to let him develop the track. I think on both sides there’s the ability to step back and let each other try something out without jumping into the creative process too soon. We don’t want to kill a spark before it had the chance to grow into a flame.”
Tell me more about the song ‘Trick Me’. How did it come to be?
“‘Trick Me’ was written in a secluded cabin in the French Alps. Late night talks between us and our friend Pierre ignited the inspiration for the song. Pierre holds a deep fascination for North Korea and has travelled there numerous times to photograph its people. The North Korean people featured in various documentaries show Stockholm Syndrome like symptoms, which I find highly fascinating. The song is about the love for a blinding leader.”
How did you come up with the idea for the video and why did you choose for an analog method of recording?
“The video was shot in an abandoned zoo with dancer Alice, who attracted my attention before with a combination of her animal-like movements and androgynous beauty. It is why we wanted her to be the one to embody this bizarre and alienating relationship. Crawling out of the darkness into the light, voluntarily blinding herself and searching for something else, something better, something she can’t see and wil never understand only to end up flinging herself back into safe warm darkness she knows so well and succumbs to. Aesthetically we were looking for something real, raw and analogue, which is why the entire video was shot on analog film. Nothing compares to the tension in the air when shooting on film, knowing that you have to get it right in as few takes as possible to save precious film. Sometimes doing things the ‘hard’ way, is just really worth it.”
From the moment you guys first came out, your live performances always had a strong visual element. How do you think your shows evolved?
“We don’t use visuals at this moment, but we try to use lighting as an extra element to give the show more power and expressiveness. We are looking into doing shows with a drummer in the future but if we play just with the two of us we find it most important to use all different elements so that our audience gets sucked into this otherworldly experience.”
What is the single achievement in your career you are most proud of and why?
“The fact that we have worked so well together for the past years I would say. I think that is the greatest foundation of our collaboration. It’s a very intense relationship when you work together in a band. Next to playing and writing together there’s so much that comes to the table. As a modern musician you have to do a lot yourself so you see each other almost everyday and communicate all the time. Especially on tour you are under a lot of stress. When you sleep in the same room, travel in the same car, play on the same stage and do all of the production, driving, updating social media yourself, you have to have a great working relationship to keep that up. I think a lot of bands fall apart for that reason.”
You have been around quite a few years now, but only released EPs so far and no album yet. Was this a conscious choice?
“We were testing the waters and wanted to have a strong output before we would commit to making an album. The good news is that we are actually working on one now!”
Other than dropping the album, what are your hopes and dreams for the future? Any dream collaborations you would love to do?
“We want to do a big international tour one day; travel the world and see new cool places. One of our hero’s is Jamie xx, we would love to get the chance to work with him.”