108 – Cuthead

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Since its inception in 2010, Uncanny Valley and their collective have managed to break all the rules usually adhered to within modern house music production. We use the term house music loosely here as their output has often included hip hop, various takes on downtempo and weird versions of techno and acid amongst a bunch of other immensely enjoyable sounds.

Spearheading the label along with a couple of close hometown friends like Jacob Korn and Break SL, Cuthead has proven over three EPs and three digital albums of his own, plus appearances on some of the notorious Uncanny Valley VA’s that he’s no ordinary beat maker. His soul drenched music relies heavily on samples, rarely using synthesizers to create cuts which are heavily influenced by a long history as a DJ in Dresden’s beat and hip hop scene and his own legendary Kunst:stoff Breakz parties.

Just like his latest EP for Uncanny Valley, Everlasting Sunday, his podcast for us is a perfectly executed blend of chopped up hip hop beats and raw deep house, including a selection of unreleased cuts from the Uncanny Valley crew for good measure.

You are quite well known around Dresden for your Kunst:stoff Breakz parties, how would you describe those parties, and do you plan to continue them in the future?

The Kunst:stoff parties were free and illegal parties in the nature or in abandoned buildings. Some friends and I tried to find the most adventures places in the city.. Even the location scouting was thrilling sometimes and we had to drag all the equipment, the drinks and records to the spot which was sometimes 500m in the woods. We were hardcore hip hop heads by that time and rappers were a regular feature. Times were really cool, it was a lot about friendship, insurgency and adventure. You never knew if the police would show up. We did that for about 5 years and it faded out by itself. It might sound a bit stuffy, but i feel like I got too old for it. Nowadays I am more interested in finding a cozy club and focusing on the music. Also the other members of the crew moved away to Berlin and Austia, so I don’t think we will continue the series. Maybe just as a little reminiscence party someday.

For those who don’t know, what is your involvement with the Uncanny Valley label?

Four friends of mine founded the label in 2010. Up to this point there were a lot of different crews in Dresden. Though we knew each other, there was no platform or constant collaboration between the artists or promoters. Most of the musicians were producing in there bedroom studios and were not really good in making their music public. It is a lot of hard work to get connected to distributors, reviews, cover artists and get it together for a new release. The founding of a label focused the power of all people involved and put it really to another level. Suddenly there was feedback from all around the world and even big names charted our tracks. I think nowadays a label provides some kind of filter for the listeners. There is so much music coming out as free download, too much to listen to everything, when a label is well established its like a quality certificate for the certain style of music. The people who like a release of the label often check out the other artists and so everyone benefits.

Looking back at the year, what were the main highlights for you?

Scherbe – Jardin Du Midi EP
Greg Beato – Who’s The Licho In Charge Ovaa Here
Spaventi Dazzurro – Lonely
Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes
Kris Wadsworth – 333 B
Max Graef – Torben
Florian Kupfer – Feelin
Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
Suff Daddy – Sympathy For the Liquor
Siriusmo – Enthusiast
S3A – Vol.2

Your Everlasting Sunday EP on Uncanny Valley this year received some great reviews, was the idea behind that project always to combine experimental hip hop and house sounds, or was it more of a natural progression?

I come from a hip hop background and discovered house music just a few years ago around 2008, so I am still a big fan of beat and rap music. When we did the kunststoff parties, we played hip hop, broken beats, garage and early dubstep. That is why I really like the idea of not being bounded to a certain genre. Like I appreciate parties with a wide musical spectrum, I also love releases which guide me through different styles and influences.

Production wise it makes just a small difference to me if I produce this or that, as long as it has a good feel and groove. When I look for samples I am always interested in weird harmonies which have some kind of unexpected turn. For example François de Roubaix is a true master in creating these moods. When I manage to catch this positive melancholy, I am really happy with my track, no matter what style it is.

What can you tell us about your current studio setup? Do you often collaborate with other artists in the Dresden crew? I know you have been working on some new material with Jacob Korn…

My studio setup is very minimalistic. I just use my laptop and some samplers like the Roland 404, Zoom Sampletrak and the Korg ESX. My MPC broke a while ago. For most of my tracks I use Ableton Live and use the samplers as outboard effects. Mostly the 404 with its great isolator and vinyl sim compressor. I rarely use synthesizers and I only own a Microkorg and DX21. For sound synthesis I prefer to use little sampled sound snippets in a wavetable plugin. Its not building the sound from scratch but it gives a very unique sound to the patch.

Collaboration to me is very hard, because I don’t play most of my midi clips live and also prefer to program the drums with the mouse on the screen. This is very nerdy and time consuming, but gives the most control to the groove to me. This way of production makes it on the other hand hard to jam together with other producers. For me it works out best, if I start a track with, for example, the drums and then someone else continues with the bass and so on. Its like time shifted collaboration.

What can you tell us about this podcast you have put together for us?

Just diverse and enjoyable music. Like on my latest release I combined hip hop beats, house music and some disco tunes. There are also some unreleased tracks from Jacob Korn and some edits of mine in it.

What is coming up for Cuthead in 2014?

I will be a father in two weeks, lets see, but I think it will change a lot. At the moment I am working on a remix for 6th Borough Project and there will be a massive various artists anniversary release on Uncanny Valley 020 for which Jacob and I have done a track as Kornhead.

Tracklist:

Cuthead – Untitled
Flying Lotus – 1983
Jehst – ESP
Cuthead – Everlasting sunday
Captain – Light Years
Rob Who! – Bad Cop
Antennae – In My Room
Oskar Offermann – Sunlight Streaks
Francis Inferno Orchestra – Amber Express
Cuthead – Minerals
Spaventi Dazzurro – Lonely (crunchy Club mix)
Jacob Korn – Juvenescence (unreleased)
S3A – Forward
Athur Adams – You got the Floor (cuthead edit)
Wagon Christ – The Groove
GQ -Lies (minus refrain edit)
Moomin- I Whisper a Prayer
Nick Holder – Singing da Blues
Moodymann – Givin you something
Rubens de Falco – Os Seu Botoes

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