Cut Chemist got his start with the group Unity Committee, which ended up merging with another group, the Rebels of Rhythm, to form the Jurassic 5. Over the years, he has been DJing for and producing joints for Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, plus dropping dope mix albums like “Brainfreeze” with DJ Shadow, or live recordings of performances. This June, he will be releasing his first solo album on Warner Brothers Records, The Audience’s Listening. You can preview two tracks on his album on his Myspace Music Page.
HHS: Let’s start with the new album, The Audience’s Listening. When did you get the idea that you wanted to devote your time to putting out a solo album?
Cut Chemist: Umm lets see… well i guess as long as i’ve been doing this, going back to the “Lesson 4″ days.
Speaking of “Lesson 4″, Steinski was a big influence on you. Do you plan to do any more cut and paste style songs?
I think all my stuff is cut and paste, even though it’s from live music. Like we will bring people in and record them and ill go through it and sample that and make it sound like a sample. I think i will always do that.
Have you grown as a producer with this record?
I think i have gone backwards. Because with Jurassic 5 you have to organize all these groups of people and with this stuff it’s just simple and personal. I don’t know if I can produce a record for someone right now. I’m more of an artist then a producer. One thing I have grown is at executing producing with this album. I have been working hard on going over the budgets and overseeing stuff like artwork and all that in that.
Was any song on the album hard to make and you spent a lot of time trying to get it just right?
Every one, really. I’m still tweaking them now, even the two that are out I’m still mastering. I’m like maybe we should raise this section by .1db and stuff. I’m always tweaking and messing with them, I can’t stop.
Did your record label want to push you in any certain direction or did they just say give us an album in a few months and left you alone?
Well, they said give us an album in a few months and it took me a few years, but yeah, they were pretty cool about everything. You have to be more careful with samples when your at this level.
Has not being able to clear samples hurt you ?
Yeah a little, it sucks sometimes. I have a guy who is really good and finding people and working things out. Sometimes you can’t afford it and have to swap it out with something else but that’s how it is.
Will people familiar with your work with J5 and your funk mixes enjoy your solo album?
I think so. I’ve played the album for a lot of people – some rap heads and some people that aren’t into rap – and they both seem to dig it. Like i have two songs out now off the upcoming album “The Garden” and “Storm” (with Edan and Mr Lif). They are both different but have been received well. I think when you listen to my stuff you come in with open ears so that might help.
Did you want to do anything or work with anyone on The Audience’s Listening, but didn’t get to?
Yeah I wanted to have Charli 2na and Marc7 on a track, but they are working on the upcoming Jurassic 5 album and we couldn’t get our schedules worked out. I didn’t want this album to be saturated with guests but I’m happy with the people I got to work with on this album.
So even though you didn’t do anything for the new J5 album and they aren’t on your album everything is cool between you and the other members of J5?
Yeah, everything is fine.
Do you and Shadow plan to do another funk mix?
We have been entertaining the idea. You know talk about it informally. We are going to dust off the set and play it at a benefit (for graphic designer Keith Tamashiro who suffered a brain aneurysm in March and is currently in the hospital with mounting hospital bills) so maybe doing that will help or maybe we will tweak and update the set a little. Shadow is three albums deep I haven’t dropped one yet. I feel I gotta put out at least one album before we do another mix. Also if we do another one it has to be really good, it has to annihilate the other two.
I know you and others went to Brazil for Brazilintime. Did going there influence you any musically?
Well, I have been a fan of Brazilian artists, even before I went down there. I started studying that stuff when I was in college, but going down there I got a greater appreciation for it. I like a lot of artists down there, but I tend to favor the way far out and psychedelic stuff.
You contributed a song to The Sound of LA release, how did that come about?
I had originally made the track for the last Jurassic 5 album but it didn’t make it. It didn’t really fit on my solo so i played for Carlos Nino and he wanted it.
Are there any current artists you dig right now?
Umm…lets see…not really.
What do you think about the hyphy movement in northern California?
It’s funny that northern and sourthern California aren’t that far apart, but there sounds have always been different. I think it’s cool. I want to know what the LA sound is. I want to be apart of a team, too.
You have been diggin records for a long time what’s your most prized record?
I don’t know that’s a hard question to answer. Plus, anything I mention people will hit up ebay and shops and raise the prices on, so I can’t really say.
What was the first record you found while diggin that you were really happy you got?
The Invaders “Spacing Out”, it’s such a great record, I would say my favorite of all time.
Do you get to DJ much anymore?
Yeah I DJ, because I love it. Sometimes I DJ in Hollywood on Saturday nights, which is funny because those people want to hear 50 Cent and these “I want to get laid” songs. I can understand that because when I go out on saturday night, I will turn my brain off. But its cool because say around 12:30 after they have a few beers in them i can throw on some Turkish shit and they will dance to it. Then when they come back next week they will be like “throw that Turkish joint on”.
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