For Cut Copy frontman Dan Whitford, 2008’s In Ghost Colours was a “coming-of-age album where we all realized the possibilities of what we were doing and were becoming a lot better at it,” he tells Apple Music. Assisting the Melbourne quartet on their second album was producer Tim Goldsworthy, who recorded with the band over six weeks in New York. Influential DFA Records co-founder Goldsworthy had produced for The Rapture and remixed artists such as Nine Inch Nails, Gorillaz, and Le Tigre. Given Cut Copy’s desire to merge as many genres as they could, they immediately recognized a kindred spirit in the producer. “Some of the ideas we’d been thinking about really got pushed further,” Whitford says. “The idea of combining some of the guitar-based stuff we liked with electronic sounds and the club music we were hearing when we were DJing, all those elements were a lot stronger and more potent. I think the end result was a lot broader, on both sides of the spectrum.” Here, Whitford talks through some of the key tracks on In Ghost Colours.
Hearts on Fire “I DJed at a club in Melbourne called Honkytonks, and the day before I was going to do that, I was mucking around with a demo idea for this song. I didn’t have any full lyrics on it, but just had this chorus: ‘With hearts on fire I reach out to you tonight.’ And I thought, what a great invitation to someone. You know, if they’re on a dance floor, obviously it’s got a lot of meaning packed into it, but then it’s universal as well. And I DJ’d it out and had a whole bunch of my friends run up and ask me what the song was. And so I knew after that there was something really cool in there that needed to be finished and people needed to hear.”
Lights & Music “This one started out as a bit of an electronic track, but we’d been touring a lot in the years preceding and we wanted it to reflect the sound of the live stuff that we were doing. I think it’s a nice reflection of some of the guitar-based stuff that we were into at that time–more post-punk-sounding, angular, with some feedback as well. Those sounds have a real dirtiness, which is a bit unusual for an electronic track. But I think one of the things we were always aiming for was combining everything we like into our music. It kind of takes you on a journey through all these different sounds on the song.”
Feel the Love “That was basically recorded on a $30 acoustic guitar, and I wasn’t even particularly good at playing guitar. It was definitely influenced by ’70s pop, and again that weird melding of electronic and acoustic instruments. And it’s obviously a bit of a tribute to Jeff Lynne, with lots of harmonies. I remember we played it to our label and they were a little bit bamboozled by it. It has no real structure, it doesn’t really have a chorus, it just goes meandering off into this electronic thing at the end. They were scratching their heads.”
Out There on the Ice “It’s painting a picture of a girl in trouble. It’s basically someone saying, ‘If you need a friend, I’m here.’ Like ‘Lights & Music,’ it’s one of the most recognized and requested songs when we play live. People always go nuts to it.”
Strangers in the Wind “The way the song goes from a fairly guitar-based thing into house music documents the way that we made it. It initially was this guitar-based song, a fairly melancholy ’70s-sounding thing, and then as we kept working on it, it just seemed to gain energy. I looped up different parts of the stuff that we’d recorded and put a big drum on it, and all of a sudden we’re dancing around in the studio and it’s like, hold on, this is going somewhere completely different. The song is about the idea of someone that you meet and you want to experience everything with them and it’s like, ‘Hey, come on, we’re under the lights of the city, let’s go, we can do everything.’ It’s that kind of feeling.”
Far Away “I guess it’s just a musician cliché 101, but we’d been touring for a long time on our first album, trying to make it and forge a path for ourselves, but probably at the expense of a relationship at the time. And the song was expressing that anguish of being separated from the one who you love.”