Coldcut

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Music driven by DJ'€™s / producers has evolved beyond our wildest imagination. For decades, listeners usually focused on the singer'€™s voice, the musical genre/style, and the lyrics. Some forms of music, like jazz, were based solely on the music itself. The lead singer was not more important that the other band members. Groups like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive made music with drowned-out vocals. Other eccentric artists like Brian Eno, Meat Beat Manifesto, and The Orb made solid instrumentals, which took the listener on a journey. The DJ was the true catalyst for this movement. Hip-hop has become more of a producer'€™s market. People are buying albums because they like the producer'€™s beats even though they may dislike the emcee. Respected hip-hop producers like J Dilla, Prince Paul, MF Doom, J. Rawls, Fat Jon (of Five Deez), and DJ Spinna have all released instrumental albums under their own name. As groups, DJ'€™s and producers have used their talents to work with their idols. With different vocalists on almost every song, some these DJ groups create diverse albums that that cross multiple genres. Massive Attack albums have included Tricky, Elizabeth Fraizer (of Cocteau Twins), Sinead O'€™Conner, and more. The Chemical Brothers released albums featuring Tim Burgess (of The Charlatans), Q-Tip (of A Tribe Called Quest), and Ian Gallagher (of Oasis). While hip-hop music is diverse, the sound always fits within the hip-hop genre. Groups like Massive Attack can be categorized as trip-hop, but their music truly defies any categorization. Coldcut is one of these DJ/producer groups who have crossed genres, opened minds, and made people dance.

Jon More and Matt Black are the mad scientists behind the musical experiment known as Coldcut. As a duo, these DJ'€™s / producers have paid their dues and have made an impressive contribution to hip-hop and dance music. Their remix of '€œPaid In Full'€ by Eric B. & Rakim has earned them a place in hip-hop history. For years, Coldcut has been making diverse music with exceptional rhythms. Their list of collaborators ranges from Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Roots Manuva, '€¦. And more

Consistently releasing solid records is just one element of Coldcut'€™s musical contribution. They founded Ninja Tune Records in the U.K. Parent label of Big Dada, Ninja Tune has released music for MF Doom (King Geedorah), Mike Ladd, Roots Manuva, Cloudheaded, The Magesticons, and more. VJAMM is another addition to the list of Coldcut'€™s amazing accomplishments. VJAMM is a musical sequencing software where the user can remix audio and video. Demo versions have been included on their CD releases.

Coldcut have reached the pinnacle of their career. In 2006, Coldcut released their best album to date, '€œSound Mirrors'€. Released on Ninja Tune, '€œSound Mirrors'€ includes songs filled with passion, diverse musical styles, and a myriad of excellent vocal performances from varied guests. The opening track, '€œMan In The Garage'€ is a classic song with a heartfelt performance by John Matthias over an unusual musical backdrop. Roots Manuva contributes one of the best performances of his career on '€œTrue Skool'€. Delivering a powerful message, Robert Owens gives dance music substance with '€œWalk A Mile'€. Mpho Skeef dazzles the listener on '€œThis Island Earth'€. Political issues are explored on Whistle And A Prayer" featuring Andrew Broder aka Fog. '€œMr. Nichols'€ is an exceptional track where Saul Williams uses his poetry to talk a suicide jumper off the ledge. Other powerful tracks include '€œColors The Soul'€, '€œJust For The Kick'€, and the title track, '€œSound Mirrors'€.

As DJ culture evolves, the infinite possibilities of musical revolution will continue to entice music lovers. Coldcut has not only survived for decades, but they have become an element of the culture'€™ foundation. Their musically creative contributions are just as important as their technological innovations. Their label (Ninja Tune) has also opened the doors for a myriad of unique artists. When Jon More and Matt Black are in front of their '€œSound Mirrors'€, they should be proud for what they hear and see.

T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œCheers.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about Coldcut'€™s new album, '€˜Sound Mirrors'€™.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œWe wanted to make a more complete album. Everyone tells us we'€™ve succeeded, and that does feel good. Dance music is about tracks. It'€™s about 12'€ singles. The number of albums by dance artists that can be seen as successful are pretty limited. You can almost count them on the fingers of one hand. '€˜Journeys By DJ'€™ was a good album, but then that was put together as a montage of loads of other people'€™s stuff, so that didn'€™t quite count. We did want to make something complete and coherent that you could put on from start to end. I don'€™t know if we'€™ve succeeded in that, but I think we have at least partly succeeded. It'€™s a balance between coherency and diversity. We are pleased with it, Jon and me are getting better at what we do. The novelty of just doing phat beats and funky noises has worn off a bit. We thought, '€˜What are we going to do with all this tech now?'€™ The answer? Write some songs. We'€™re not Lennon and McCartney yet! But, we'€™re still sharpening our edge, not loosing it.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite song on '€˜Sound Mirrors'€™?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œ'€˜Colours The Soul'€™ is my favorite track. It came about in a really strange way. I was having my VW van repaired in a local garage where I met a man who Jon had taught 20 years ago. He was a singer and guitarist, so I invited him round to my gaff to sing on '€˜Everything'€™s Under Control'€™. In the end, he only did backing vocals for that, but we were chucking some things around. Out of that, came '€˜Colours The Soul'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhy did you choose '€˜Sound Mirrors'€™ to be the title?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œIn 2004, we produced a play for BBC Radio 3 called '€˜Sound Mirrors'€™. Sound Mirrors are giant concrete ears on the English South coast, military installations that didn'€™t work and are now art installations. The play itself was about an obsessive record collector and sound collagist who went mad. I guess this struck a chord with us which we played on in the album.'€

T.JONES: '€œYou released your last album 8 years ago. What took so long? Did that lengthy break affect this album?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI'€™ve been away on the beach researching my new film, '€˜Beaches and Massages of the World'€™. A guy called David Rockerfeller gave me $50 Million to produce it with, but, we got through that and now we'€™re seeking further funds. If any readers fancy contributing, just get in contact with us via Ninja Tune. I don'€™t think it'€™s affected the album in a negative way.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you hook up with Saul Williams for '€˜Mr. Nichols'€™? What was this collaboration like?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œThere was a DJ Spooky project by Saul called, '€˜Not In Our Name'€™. It is an anti-Iraq poem, which Ninja put out a few years ago. And even though it wasn'€™t a big earner, we thought it was an important record to put out. So, Saul was open to doing something with us because we'€™d taken a risk on that. In terms of the theme of the song, it was about something I have been finding out about recently, the crisis of men in today'€™s society. I really relate to the story of a man throwing himself off a building. I'€™ve thought about that sometimes, but I don'€™t think I'€™m the kind of person to do that, so maybe thinking about it is a waste of time. But getting yourself out of the downers is hard sometimes.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you meet Jon More and eventually form Coldcut?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œJon and I met in classic DJ style, in a secondhand record shop where he was working. Reckless Records. He sold me a bootleg copy of '€˜Cross the Tracks'€™. We were both fascinated by records coming from New York, go-go, funk, and particular the records of Double Dee and Steinski. I had already done a record like the '€˜Lessons'€™ trilogy. It was called, '€˜Say Kids What Time Is It?'€™ Jon liked it and we decided to form Coldcut and put it out.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you think success and credibility are mutually exclusive?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œNo, but they'€™re rarely combined. It is a personal goal for me to reach both of those. Success is an interesting word. To do what you want to do and to make a living from it is success in my definition. We'€™ve managed that as Coldcut.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of the term trip-hop?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œAs a keyword, I like it. But as a label, it can be a straightjacket, like most labels. Keywords and adjectives are better than labels because they'€™re not exclusive. Something can be jazz, electro, and afro-beat if you think in terms of labels.'€

T.JONES: '€œDescribe the overall recording process.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œEach track is different. Some of the recording sessions started 4 years ago and have weaved their own little way. Others only came together at the last minute, like the Roots Manuva track. Some of them are mainly Jon'€™s work. Some, mainly mine and some, we collaborated on.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow do you decide which artists will be the guests on the album?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œIt was different with each collaboration. Some came about because we wanted to collaborate with the artist before we'€™d written anything. Others we had written something and it struck as that a particular artist would suit it. That'€™s what happened with '€˜Walk A Mile'€™. Originally, Jon had done it with a white rock / soul vocalist. It sat around for ages and no one really liked it, but he was playing with it one day. Me and Ross said, '€˜You know, this is alright. It'€™s a bit trancey. The vocals are not right, but the idea is really good.'€™ Jon wasn'€™t convinced and neither were the rest of Ninja Tune, but Ross and I hung in there because we reckoned it could be good with a new vocalist. Someone suggested Robert Owens, who we thought would be very difficult to get hold of, because he'€™s a legend. But I happened to have a friend in London who knew him, so he was very easy to get hold of, in the end. One of the good things about being Coldcut is that we have a fairly good rep because we'€™ve been round for a long time. We haven'€™t blotted our copybook too often. We'€™ve hung in there. If we approach someone like Annette Peacock or Robert Owens, and even if they don'€™t know who we are, their mates or their kids say, '€˜Yeah, Coldcut, they'€™re pretty cool. They'€™ve done a lot of good stuff. You might as well give it a go.'€™ So, we haven'€™t been turned down by anyone asked to do a vocal for us. Obviously, Roots Manuva is on the label, but you can'€™t force Rodney to do anything. He'€™s his own master. He wanted to do a track and we jumped at the chance to do it.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did Ninja Tune start? How has running the label changed things musically?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œNinja Tune was formed as a Technicolor escape pod to get out of the music industry contractual swamp we found ourselves in when we signed to a major label. We saw that a lot of house producers used to release things under different names, so we started DJ Food and that was Ninja Tune. Ninja Tune is about small, sustainable, organic growth. We always thought that if we built it well, people would come. And here we are.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Do you write the music first? Or, does everything come together simultaneously?
MATT BLACK: '€œThe music is always first. All the songs have come from music we wrote first. Either we'€™ve got a vocalist in and worked with them, or we'€™ve sent the track to a vocalist.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite sampler?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œAbelton Live 5.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite keyboard?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œEMS VCS4.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your opinion on downloading music from the Internet?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œIt depends whether you mean for free or not. I have downloaded things illegally, but have given it up. It'€™s bad karma for a musician to do that. If people think that all music can be free on the Internet, than there won'€™t be any new music made. I do buy stuff on iTunes. Downloading is a cool way to get music. Systems like iTunes enable artists to bypass the monopoly of big companies and that'€™s good.'€

T.JONES: '€œOn the song, '€˜Money, Power & Influence'€™ from Guru'€™s '€˜The Street Scriptures'€™ album, Talib Kweli mentions that Protools made producers lazy. Do you agree?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI can appreciate the sentiment, but like everything, there'€™s a duality. The expertise that producers needed in the past, when studio time was expensive and resources limited, is no longer necessary to an extent. Protools offers a shortcut. However, extra power often just gets used up. Today'€™s R&B groups expect to record 96 tracks of vocals rather than 3, which just results in many long hours spent staring at a computer screen, rather than significant musical developments.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of film '€™24 hour Party People'€™?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œPass.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the favorite part of your live show?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œMy favorite part is my video break beat solo using VJAMM. It'€™s pure freestyle beat juggling improvisation using a new instrument we'€™ve developed.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI'€™d quite like to do a track with M.I.A. She'€™s wicked. I'€™d like to do a track with George Clinton whilst he'€™s still around.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you during September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œWe were on tour in the Balkans. In fact, we'€™d just left Mostar having done a show there, with 20 people and a 40Kw sound system. If there was going to be an outbreak of war, we felt we were well placed to survive having already adopted a nomadic lifestyle.'€

T.JONES: '€œDeath penalty '€“ for or against?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI'€™m against. But I don'€™t think that murderers should be released after a few years for good behavior. Life, in some cases, should mean that convicts are not released.'€

T.JONES: '€œAbortion '€“ pro-choice or pro-life?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI can'€™t see such a crucial question identified by these two polarities. It'€™s more complex than that. Each case is individual.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat has been in your CD player or on your tape deck recently?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI'€™m getting into the Temperance Seven at the moment, who were a bunch of art school students in the 60'€™s. My parents used to play them and I'€™ve recently rediscovered them. They'€™re absolutely stinging! They'€™re like us, man, four white guys who fell in love with Black music. In their case, 20'€™s and 30'€™s New Orleans jazz. It'€™s so witty. The musicianship is excellent. I'€™ve been learning the Charleston, with my girlfriend, over Christmas.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. I am going to say an emcee or name of a group and you tell me the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜Lennon'€™. Ok?'€

T.JONES: '€œMassive Attack.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œHeavy.'€

T.JONES: '€œTrisomie 21.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œUnknown.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œFlowers.'€

T.JONES: '€œMorrissey.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œShoes.'€

T.JONES: '€œSlowdive.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œCarpet.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Fall.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œTrue Grime (laughing).'€

T.JONES: '€œThe New Fast Automatic Daffodils.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œOld.'€

T.JONES: '€œMy Bloody Valentine.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œPark.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe House Of Love.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œNonsense.'€

T.JONES: '€œMomus.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œOne brown dried leaf.'€

T.JONES: '€œFelt.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œSvelte.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Wolfgang Press.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI am not a computer.'€

T.JONES: '€œCocteau Twins.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œLush.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Dandy Warhols.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œA copy.'€

T.JONES: '€œPsychic T.V.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œSoftwarmgood.'€

T.JONES: '€œRenegade Soundwave.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œBass.'€

T.JONES: '€œNew Order.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œNew York circa 1979.'€

T.JONES: '€œMeat Beat Manifesto.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œDangerous Tones.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œPlaying the role that has been prepared for him by his handlers.'€

T.JONES: '€œMargaret Thatcher.'€
MATT BLACK: '€œPeople should be numbers in a state computer.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œUS involvement in the Middle East has many unfortunate, clumsy aspects, but I wouldn'€™t know how to fix it. I admire aspects of American culture immensely, but the way it is painting itself as the 4th Reich is pretty upsetting.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho came up with the name Coldcut? Is there a deeper meaning?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œI came up with the name. Hip-hop DJ-ing is about cutting records, hence the term '€˜cut'€™. '€˜Cold'€™ is cool. So, '€˜Coldcut'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is music lacking these days?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œCowbell.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is next for Coldcut?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œGigs, Gigs, Gigs! Party, party, party! We'€™ve got about 30 or 40 gigs in the tour. That'€™s going to be a hard grind, but we love it. We'€™re going to do Europe, Japan, the States, and even Chile this time, I think.'€

T.JONES: '€œFinal words?'€
MATT BLACK: '€œThanks!'€


Thank you MATT BLACK!!!

Interview by Todd E. Jones aka New Jeru Poet
toddejones@yahoo.com


NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.


OFFICIAL SITES:
Coldcut: http://www.coldcut.net/coldcut/
Coldcut Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/coldcut
Ninja Tune: http://www.ninjatune.net

AUDIO:
'€œEverything Is Under Control'€ eFlyer
http://www.ninjatune.net/etucflyer

Listen to streamed tracks of the whole album:
http://www.bleep.com/mediaplayer/launch_playlist.php?ninja/Coldcut_Sound_Mirrors

VIDEO:
'€œMan In The Garage'€ '€“ COLDCUT (f/ John Matthias)
http://www.video-c.co.uk/dance/micrositedisplayfull.asp?vidref=cold008&page=watch&FileType=ADSLProg

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