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Audiofile: Cut Copy Shows Off Synths and Talks Todd Rundgren

One of the reasons that Aussie dance quartet Cut Copy is constantly on our iPods is because the band, with its electro-pop-meets-arena-rock stylings, is one of the most forward-thinking dance acts around. The boys use the futuristic preoccupations that were pervasive in the '70s and '80s -- think classic synths or dreamy vocals that owe a bit to Boy George or OMD -- to make incredible music that sounds incredibly "now." We got to know them with 'Bright Like Neon Love,' 2004's stellar send-up of New Wave and uplifting house music, and still jam to 2008's groove-filled "Lights and Music," a dance song played with real instruments that could be at home in either 2011 or 1977.

Switched caught up with lead singer Dan Whitford to talk tunes: how he makes them, what he loves, and what equipment he cannot live without. He let us into his studio and allowed us to peruse his iTunes. We weren't surprised by his vast influences, like Windows start-up sound designer Brian Eno or Cut Copy's current labelmate Ariel Pink. Cut Copy proves music isn't "electronic" or "rock-and-roll" anymore. For their new album 'Zonoscope,' music, instruments and technology have an intertwined, symbiotic relationship.

What are your three favorite new songs?
Toro y moi, " Still Sound"
Nile Delta, " Channel"
ESP Institute, " Khoi Khoi"

Can you take a picture of your work set-up?

What is the most perfectly written and produced song you can think of? In other
words, can you name a track with production values that just wow you?

'Don't Bring Me Down' by Electric Light Orchestra. It's one of those songs where the
production is so amazing it's hard to imagine changing anything about it. We've tried
to imitate the way the drums sound so many times, but it's almost impossible. They're
perfect.

What is a song you'd like to reproduce, or take a swing at interpreting?
Perhaps one of the songs from the Avalanches' debut album 'Since I Left You.' It really
changed the way I thought about music and the way that I approached writing.

Name a producer, living or dead, you'd like to have remix, your work.
I'd love to have had Todd Rundgren reinterpret or remix our work around the era of his
album 'A Wizard, A True Star'. That record is a truly unique experience.

What is your favorite and go-to music program for editing and creating?
Cubase. I've used it since I first started making music.

Name your most crucial instrument, virtual or real.
It probably changes each record. But there's usually a polyphonic synth that I get pretty
attached to and have as a go-to when sketching tracks. On 'Ghost Colours' it was the
Prophet 5 and on 'Zonoscope' it was the Yamaha CS80. Both are total classics. Although
the CS80 is widely considered to be the best ever so I'm not entirely sure where I'll go
for the next record.

Name your single favorite musical noise/sound. Or several, if you can think of it.
It's a little strange, but I actually really dig the sound of the glockenspiel. It has a really
nice sparkly Beach Boys-esque sound to it, which surprisingly still sounds at home on
dance tracks.

Mac or PC?
Mac laptop.

Who is a person you'd like to collaborate with that you haven't before? Why?
I think Panda Bear would be really interesting to work with. I've been obsessed with
Animal Collective for seven or eight years, and his solo record stands as one of my favorites.
I think we probably write in a fairly similar way. I started out with sampling and hip hop
stuff and have more recently been inspired by African music. It seems like he's the same
but the end musical results are very different.

Organize your iTunes (or whatever program you'd use) by playcount.
Cut Copy iTunes

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