By Jeevin Johal
VANCOUVER – It was the early ’70s, in the Bronx district of New York City, and the kids were hungry for a new sound. On one infamous night, a DJ known as Kool Herc opted to try something crazy. He took the drum break parts of old funk and disco records and juggled the beats between two separate turntables, while his confidant Coke La Rock played hype man, wiling out on a mic. The shit was wild.
“To use pre-existing music was embedded in hip hop’s roots,” explains Lukas MacFadden, better known as Cut Chemist.
Best known for his work with Jurassic 5, Ozomatli and DJ Shadow, MacFadden came up through the Los Angeles hip-hop scene in the ’90s. The Los Angeles DJ’s cut-and-paste style of snipping beats and samples, and pasting them together with so much duct tape and Elmer’s Glue put him on the hip-hop map, becoming a staple of the genre as one of the most recognizable turntablist beatsmiths in the world.
On Die Cut, his first solo record in 12 years going back to 2006’s stellar The Audience’s Listening, MacFadden once again emerges from the shadows to give genesis to a new saga of collaboration, featuring the likes of DNTEL, Biz Markie, and Parenthood actress Erika Christensen. ”I think I was just living such an isolated lifestyle at that moment in time that I needed some interaction, and to be a part of something bigger than myself,” confesses Macfadden. “I think I missed it to be quite honest.”
Annihilation of the old, and rebuilding anew is a constant theme throughout Die Cut, one that, to MacFadden’s surprise, was a natural conception while making the record. The studio sessions generated a sort of telepathic energy between the director and his muses, as he experimented with a variety of musicians, singers and dope as fuck MCs.
“Listening to the record now I realize that there is a common theme of destruction of the mind, and manipulation of the mind,” reveals MacFadden. “All of these things are loosely interpreted through every song, even though these people never talk to each other. It’s like that record the universe brings you randomly in a record store. The universe did me a solid.”
Throughout his career, the universe has brought a legion of music MacFadden’s way, chronicling a multitude of genres and obscure sounds. Die Cut is both a departure and return for MacFadden, brazing old territories with new opportunities and alliances.
“I felt like I wanted to write songs more than sample, and cut-and-paste them together from old songs,” says MacFadden. “I think the main thing is I never like to repeat myself.”
Cut Chemist plays the Cobalt on March 10th, 2018Cobalt, cut chemist