Cut Copy’s Ben Browning talks new solo album + exclusive psychegroove mixtape
July 16th 2015
After releasing his Lover Motion EP in 2012, Cut Copy bassist Ben Browning has been hard at work completing his first full-length solo effort, Turns: a bright and brilliant release inspired by old-school pop, modern electro and everything in between.
James Law had a chat with Ben about going solo, his songwriting process and how one crafts a ‘psychegroove‘ mixtape like this one he made for us.
- Ben Browning :: Psychegroove Mixtape
James: So firstly, congratulations on releasing your first solo full length LP. How’s it all feeling?
Ben Browning: It’s good, man! It takes a long time for these things to come together and when it gets released, it’s almost just a sigh of relief – you’re sort of like ‘oh right, so it’s done’ – you know?
The last album with Cut Copy was a few years ago now. What did you find different about solo writing as compared to your work with Cut Copy? Were there any challenges you weren’t expecting?
I’ve always worked on my own stuff, even before I was playing with Cut Copy, so I’ve always had an approach that’s different to what I do in the band. I’m more of a collaborator in the band, one of four, and Dan Whitford’s probably the main songwriter in Cut Copy, so my role in that situation’s pretty different. Obviously I get a lot of enjoyment working on my own stuff. Usually I’m just doing it in between touring or recording sessions with Cut Copy, so it’s great to find time to get away and work on my own thing.
Was there any particular pressure to establish yourself as a solo artist, or deviate from the Cut Copy sound?
It’s interesting – people are going to hear Cut Copy’s music, and I’m a huge Cut Copy fan [laughs], so it’s hard for me to fully separate myself from that! But I’m really happy just to pursue this and see where it goes; I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, or wanting people to think this is bigger or better than CC or anything. It’s just part of the journey that I’m on.
There are themes of sentimentality, heartbreak and moving on that are all explored on Turns, which feel quite personal in a lot of ways. Were these inspired from personal experiences?
It’s all kind of coming from my own experiences. I find lyric-writing comes later in the song-writing process, so I’m starting with the music, and a lot of the time the music or the sentimentality of the music is telling of what the song’s about. Sometimes I try not to let the lyrics be too specific so people can have their own take on what the song might be.
A lot of this album was written when I was travelling between Australia and the US, and a lot of it was written in the US, where I’m based now. So there’s kinda this feeling of long-distance relationships, which I’ve been in a lot of over the years. Even being on the road a lot is like being in a long-distance relationship, so there’s always that yearning of not being with the person that you love. And just the abstract nature of being all over the place, in different parts of the world all the time. It’s really exciting – but at the same time it’s quite bewildering.
In terms of personal influences, I noticed that you mentioned Swedish techno in previous interviews. I was wondering if you could explain a little bit of that, for those of us who are less well-versed in the scene.
[laughs] Yeah it’s pretty musical techno. If you’ve heard Todd Terje or Lindstrøm, it’s some of the more dancier music that I’ve really been obsessed with over the past 4 or 5 years. The Todd Terje album from last year had some songs that were pretty funny, almost, and there’s a lightness to their music that you don’t find in a lot of dance music. That’s something I’ve really been interested in. I feel like the space-disco thing is a personal favourite for me.
You’re going to be on a tour with Moullinex in about a month from now. How did that line-up come about?
Moullinex has never done live touring in the US, and he’s put out a record at the same time as mine, so it’s kind of a good pairing there. I haven’t done a live tour of the US as a solo act for over three years, so it’s going to be fun.
You’ve also presented us with a ‘psychegroove’ mixtape… what exactly is ‘psychegroove’?
[laughs] I don’t know! I just made that up as kind of a joke so I mean it’s… I don’t think it’s a genre. There are so many words out there – if you put something up on Soundcloud these days, they want you to tag everything. I’m sure that psychegroove has been used before, but I made it up for this mixtape.
How did you choose the artists, and do you like to pick a theme or genre, or do you start from one song and build from there?
For that one, it was just really some stuff that I was into when I put it together. It’s kind of got a dancey feel to it – obviously – but I was trying to find some more esoteric dance music that I had on hand, and some recent gems, as well as a few old classics as well.
Turns is out now via Yellow Year Records.
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