As 2011 winds down, Morning Edition is looking at music we missed over the past 12 months. Cut Copy has been entertaining its fans for more than a decade with electronic music that mashes together all sorts of genres, from pop to ancient tribal music. The Australian group is led by Dan Whitford, who didn't think he had a future in music growing up.
"I never sort of considered myself to be particularly musical," Whitford says in an interview with NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "I actually got told that I wasn't musical and sort of couldn't sing fairly early on when I was in school."
Ten years ago, Whitford was just out of high school, working as a DJ and experimenting with beats on a computer. He made some demos "just for the hell of it," found people who liked his sound and formed the band that became Cut Copy.
A decade later, the group is touring the world and playing at festivals in front of thousands of fans at a time. More than a few music writers have compared Cut Copy's sound to another Australian band, Men At Work, but Cut Copy's members say it's not an intentional 1980s throwback. At the same time, however, Whitford says he isn't afraid to take inspiration directly from music he loves.
"I just listen to records and think, 'That's kind of a cool sound, how do we get that?' " he says.
For example, for the opening percussion in "Need You Now," from Cut Copy's latest album, Zonoscope, the band drew inspiration from Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."
"There's this bit at the start where basically he'd fill different wine bottles with different amounts of water," Whitford says. "We thought that's a pretty cool idea, and we actually had some wine bottles sort of kicking around in the studio, strangely enough, so we set up that same idea and got them in tune with the track and played it."