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Guest Reviewer: Cutline

Reported by Jack Bridges TID on April 16, 2012

This week we welcome Bristol bass duo Cutline to the Guest Reviewer hot seat. Their versatile productions and remixes have been sending international crowds crazy while clocking up an insane number of plays across youtube and soundcloud.

They have released tracks on UKF, Pilot Records, Never Say Die, Suicide Dub and their own Not Safe For Work label while performing alongside the likes of Andy C, Skream, Rusko, Friction and SKisM.

These guys are seriously taking things next level so pay attention to this infomrative interview folowed by a selection of the hottest tracks being dropped in their sets... 

Bass in the place! Tell us a little bit about yourselves guys and what you’ve been up to recently please?

Hello to all the Trackitdown clientele! We’re Cutline, we make dubstep, electro and drum & bass and we also play computer games professionally. Lately we’ve been touring a lot, doing remixes for Ayah Marar and Rudimental and signing an album deal with Speakerbox / Ministry of Sound.

It’s safe to say that Cutline is the go to act for killer dubstep and DNB remixes. Can you tell us a bit on how you go about creating the perfect remix and what remixes in particular you’ve been proud of?

That’s good to hear! We always do our best to try and take on remixes where we feel we can take the original and blend it effortlessly with the Cutline sound. We always try to improve the original track in some way… at least to our own musical tastes. There’s a lot to be said for being choosy about what you take on and making sure it’s something you can do a good job with.

Our remix for Ayah Marar’s ‘Mind Controller’ has been the most well received and the one we’re most proud of to date. It’s got so much going for it, Ayah’s incredible vocals, an epic build up and a really heavy drop. That’s out now, but the next remix we’ve done for Rudimental’s ‘Feel The Love’ seems to be getting a similar response. It’s really exciting to be involved with two really great original records to be able to give them our own take and make them fit into what we do.

You’ve both had a long career in the bass heavy ends of the music scene. Can you give us a run down of that path that’s brought you to where you are today and how you came about to work together?

We’ve been best friends since we were 7 years old. While we went to different secondary schools (in different towns) we always stayed in touch and as we got older we kind of grew into doing almost all of our business together.

We’ve DJ’d together, run record labels together, worked at Nu Urban Music, which is a big record distributor, together. We’re both 30 now and we’ve been doing music industry stuff as a partnership for so long but this Cutline project has really thrown us into the limelight. It’s nice to be at the front end of things after a long time working behind the scenes.

Jeryl Cutline, you’ve got a well-respected background in marketing and promoting dance music. Can you explain to young producers and DJs reading this how important this part of the plot is when they’re trying to create some excitement about their career?

It’s really just as important to create a brand that people can buy into as it is to write excellent music – take artists like Skrillex, Deadmau5 or Feed Me as examples. Great music and great branding put together. 

Some people are best at being artists or pure musicians. I would never recommend that they give up some of their creative time to concentrate on the boring stuff, but in order to stand out, someone needs to be doing that for you. 

Cutline works as a great team because the responsibilities for writing the music, performing, marketing, branding, promotion and all the other things that need to be done are shared between two of us. And fortunately we both have lots of experience in various areas of the industry.

What would be your 3 essential tips that any young artist should remember when trying to present themselves and their music to the public?

Never put anything into the public eye unless you are 100% sure it is ready.

Always ask for the opinion of other people and don’t just accept answers from yes men or your friends who only want to boost your ego. Find people who will offer real constructive criticism and take it on board.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Dan Cutline, you’re the magician in the studio we understand and we love the way you make the most of great vocals on your productions and remixes. Are there any tips or tricks that you can recommend to young producers reading this when it comes to getting vocals sounding just right?

I wave my magician's love wand and they magically sound amazing.

With regards to remixes you have to work with what you're given, luckily most of the time they have been engineered well when recorded.

With your own vocals it is very important to have good equipment, i.e. a good mic, pre-amp and vocal compressor.  The old adage "you can't polish a turd" is never more true than here.  Post recording I always try to hear where the vocal sits within the mix and EQ accordingly, usually taking out anything below 300hz so that it doesn't conflict with the low end of the track.  I also compress and occasionally limit the vocal so you don't lose any of the words and to also make sure there are no unwanted jumps in volume.

The Cutline road show is hitting towns and cities worldwide right now with blistering performances. You don’t seem to be afraid to mash-up all kinds of bass in the mix. Do you think keeping an open mind with your playlist helps out there in the clubs, as there are so many folk just hammering one niche right?

It was a very conscious decision for us to try and mix up all the genres that we really love to play. It took some time to make it fluid and to figure out exactly what does and doesn’t work in a Cutline DJ set, but we always try different things out. We think it helps to make us stand out. There’s a definite language with our mixes, combinations of tracks that make sense to us and hopefully speak to the audience in a different way than other DJs. 

You tour schedule keeps you busy. Are there any particular parts of the UK or the world that you particularly look forward to hitting? And any secret spots off the beaten path that just go completely wild that we should know about?

We’re playing at a Skrillex after-show with MistaJam, Adam F, KOAN Sound and a bunch of others at Melkweg, Amsterdam at the end of the month. We’re really excited about that one, Netherlands crowds are always off the hook and we’ve wanted to play Melkweg for a long time. 

Back to the marketing, you guys are obviously utilising all available avenues to promote Cutline and the sound. What is the order of importance for you when it comes to social networks and other media or should young artists be hitting everything just as hard!?

Well to answer this question I would really recommend that anyone interested in promoting themselves (or another artist/label/small business of any kind) reads some books on marketing and branding. Having an appreciation of how many times a person needs to read your name, hear your latest track or see you DJ somewhere in order to really buy into what you’re doing can pay huge dividends. 

The huge benefit of social networks is that the people you’re trying to reach are often getting referrals from their friends… you know, ‘So and so liked Cutline’s fan page’ or ‘So and so shared Cutline’s latest nude photos,’ that kind of thing. So they already have an association with your brand via someone they’re already linked with. 

It’s not all cynical marketing though; we really enjoy talking to people on our social networks. Fans often say we’re very normal and real on our Facebook page where we’ll regularly answer Q&A sessions or post stupid stuff and interact with our fans. 

Fortunately that’s all tremendous marketing, but it’s just natural and organic for us to speak to people and mess around on there. A lot of artists don’t respond to their fans on social networks which is a shame. Obviously for some artists who have a million or more fans it would be impossible but a lot of people are missing a trick by not interacting with their fanbase properly.

Finally, we love your nascent label NSFW and love the name most of all! What are you guying watching right now that not safe for work in your office!?

Well midget porn is on regular rotation. It’s often too short though. *BOOM BOOM*

With regards to NSFW though, we have actually just signed two extremely talented producers, Bill Posters and Deckscar. These guys will be dropping their first singles for us in the coming months and we’re really excited about them.

Cutline Reviews

This has been one of the biggest tracks in our set since the day it was completed. Easily one of the biggest tunes we’ve ever made, Ayah’s incredible vocal is paired with some serious Cutline beauty and the beast dubstep action.

Label: OWSLA
Genre: House / Electro (Electro)
Release Date: 2012-01-31
MP3 320kbs$ 1.65
WAV$ 1.95

DJs Supporting: 13

Absolutely love Zedd. We have a few go-to artists when it comes to the electro that we play and this guy has just jumped right to the top of our list. We slept on this tune for a few months when it first came out, but now it’s in our set and it goes off every time we play it.

Remixer: Xilent
Label: Ministry of Sound UK
Genre: Dubstep
Release Date: 2012-02-05
MP3 320kbs$ 1.65
WAV$ 1.95

DJs Supporting: 6

Xilent is one of those producers who never seems to put a foot wrong. We’ve been supporting almost everything of his we get sent in the last year and we’ve been playing this remix for months. It mixes so well with the ‘Mind Controller’ remix and always goes off!

Remixer: Skrillex & Nero
Label: New State Music
Genre: Dubstep
Release Date: 2011-12-25
MP3 320kbs$ 1.65
WAV$ 1.95

DJs Supporting: 10

What can you say about this anthem? It’s basically a get out of jail free card. Crowd not reacting? Run out of hot new tunes to play? Need to convince an entire arena to sing along to a track? Best drop this one then! 

This has been our secret weapon for a long time. Well, not so secret because everyone knew about it, Andy C, Sub Focus and all the big D&B guys have been playing it for over a year. But until this month it never got a full release. Now we’ll have to find something else to draw for that no one else has got!

Smash two of our favourite acts together and what do you get? Well it could just as easily be ‘Contact’ or ‘Soul Purge,’ but we’ve been playing ‘Shellshock’ a lot recently. Truly incredible music; an effortless combination of styles and ideas that just works on every level.

Label: Rottun Recordings
Genre: Dubstep
Release Date: 2011-12-05
MP3 320kbs$ 1.65
WAV$ 1.95

We put this in our Dubstep Download for MistaJam. Two mates of ours hook up and create a full on dubstep banger. This is probably a bit dark for most of our sets, but we’ll sometimes draw for it when the crowd wants something a little filthier.

Label: New State Music
Genre: House / Electro (Electro)
Release Date: 2012-02-26
MP3 320kbs$ 1.65
WAV$ 1.95

We play a lot of different styles in our DJ sets and we’ll often create a mash up to go from one tempo to another. This track from Swedish House Mafia and Knife Party is right up our street when it comes to electro and we always mash it up with…

… this massive dubstep track by Document One. It absolutely smashes it every time we play this mash up. The switch from bouncing electro bass to a hugely disgusting dubstep drop really makes any crowd go nuts.

Last but not least this is something a little different from us. The original version of this track was already a firm UKF favourite by the time we were asked to remix it, so we thought it should go a little deeper and a little darker. Fleur’s vocals really make for a haunting build up before a grimy drop with plenty of edits hoves into view.

Massive thanks to Cutline for their time and selection!

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