Gearing up for the launch of his new label RSNTR Recs, with the first EP ‘Décollage’ out on the 22nd February, German artist CutOff!CutOff! is an elusive character that has been releasing music for the past five years on established labels such as TOYS, Shifting Peaks and Exposure Music. We caught up with him to discuss the value of owning a label, the inspiration behind the new release, why he’s obsessed with modular synths and what tracks would he rewind in a club.
We’ve recently discovered your music after receiving the new EP ‘Décollage’. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you’ve come to be CutOff!CutOff!
I’m originally from the south-western area of Germany but I’ve spent the better part of the last five years in Berlin. I started to make music at a quite young age – my first attempt at creating tracks was when I recorded my electric organ on tape at age 10 or so. Later I played guitar and bass in all kinds of different bands but always preferred to make music that is more on the Noise and heavy side. The first time I properly experienced club music was at a Drum&Bass event in a squat. The sheer volume and pressure of that relentless beat coming from a tiny needle on the record struck me and that was probably the moment I definitely knew I have to do something like this. I started experimenting with all kinds of music software I could get my hands on which eventually paved the way towards a bit of a hardware-fetish.
The idea to use the term for a synthesizer function as an artist name came years later and was stolen from LFO and Modeselektor. Shortly after I put a few tracks online as CutOff!CutOff! I got the chance to play a support gig for Schwefelgelb which forced me to work out a live set for the first time. Since then, performing live as opposed to DJing has become my main mode of expression besides daily studio work.
You’re quite an elusive character with the focus predominately on your music. Is it important for you to your personality and music as separate entities?
I find the anonymity of early Techno quite appealing as well as the reason behind it that there should be no stars because the music is the only thing that’s supposed to matter. Moreover, ideas are usually more interesting than people, including myself, which is why CutOff!CutOff! is definitely not about my day-to-day personality. Nevertheless, my personal experiences and interests are always reflected in my music but hopefully in a more artistically processed way than an Instagram post how I’m chilling on my sofa. Having said that, putting too much of an emphasis on anonymity would feel like a stale marketing gimmick which is the reason why I don’t wear a mask or an invisibility cloak.
You’re described as a modular synth aficionado, what do you love so much about the modular synth and how it sounds?
The beautiful thing about the modular synth is that there are no boundaries as to the kind of sounds that can come out of it. It can be used to achieve very clear goals as well as totally unpredictable chaos. My main motivation to get into it was to have an instrument that offers the broadest palette of sounds and possibilities for playing live sets. And it’s not only about the sound but also how the process of music making can be really different with a modular in comparison to common instruments.
‘Décollage’ is the first EP on your new imprint RSNTR Rec. What inspired you to create your own label and what is your aim for it?
The main motivation for RSNTR Rec. is to have a platform for my own releases I have total control over. I have a very strong opinion as to how things are supposed to sound like, what the artwork should look like and how the work should be presented. Art is not a democracy nor should it be. Compromises poison creativity. That’s why I’m not interested in releasing with any other labels for the time being. The first couple of releases will come from myself but if music crosses my path that resonates with my vision, I’m happy to help putting it out into the world.
How would you describe RSNTR Rec.’s sound?
Intense, dynamic, light and dark, experimental, frantic, meditative.
What was the inspiration behind the ‘Décollage’ EP?
The inspiration behind the music might only become apparent in hindsight because I try to engage in as little conscious decisions as possible while producing. The term ‘Décollage’ refers to the technique of creating an image by tearing away pieces of an existing image. I built the tracks of this EP by combining sounds I cut out from longer recordings I made earlier as I noticed afterwards, hence the EP title. Moreover, the technique of Décollage was employed by the Nouveau Réalisme art movement who attempted to merge life and art. As I try to process everything I find interesting in life in one way or another through my music, it appeared to be consequent to name another track New Realism.
We had to rewind ‘Décollage’ at the first drop, what tracks would you rewind in a club?
That’s great to hear! Rewinding tracks reminds me of my old Jungle and Drum&Bass raving days, therefore I have to name tracks from that period that got a lot of rewinds back then and still give me goosebumps:
Q Project – Champion Sound (Total Science Hardcore Will Never Die Remix)
Konflict – Messiah
The three tracks are quite punishing and would be suitable for dark peaktime sets. Do you aim to create tracks that are suitable for dance floors? Is that important to you?
I find it important to create within a clear frame and for me this means that the music has to work on the dance floor. Having clear boundaries helps to start and finish pieces while everything is possible within such limits. Ideally, people go to clubs that are hopefully equipped with proper sound systems in order to first and foremost experience music and I think it’s worthwhile to contribute music that gets heard within such a context.
You’ve previously released on Shifting Peaks and TOYS, how did these relationships form and what did you enjoy about working with these labels?
I got in touch with Shifting Peaks because Karma Kid heard a few tracks of mine and suggested that I should send those to the label. That was a few years ago and since then my sound has evolved quite a bit but I’m definitely grateful to having released on the same label as artists that I highly respect such as Tessela, Trevino or West Norwood Cassette Library.
TOYS originates from the club night in Berlin of the same name that I got involved with a few years ago through ASA 808 who is the driving force of it all. The idea behind the club night is to offer a space for a specific sound that is not strongly represented in the city at the intersection of Techno and House, often with a strong UK influence. I guess the releases so far portray the eclectic style of those nights. The next release will be a brilliant EP by ASA 808 comprising two heart melting yet dance floor oriented cuts.
You’ve been mainly playing gigs in Berlin, is 2018 the year where you start playing around Europe?
Right now I feel that my time is best spent not at airports and in hotel rooms but writing music and concentrating on the label. Nevertheless, gigs can be highly satisfying when I succeed to connect with the audience and we’re exploring unknown territory together. So while playing around Europe is not a priority, I might not rule out playing selected events with an appealing concept.
For those jumping on this whole ‘techno has become boring’ narrative, who would you recommend them to listen to?
Unknown Archetype, Umwelt and everyone on the Cong Burn label
What are your top 5 records at the moment?
1. Stenny – Old Bad Habits (Ilian Tape)
2. Arvo Pärt – Portrait (Analekta)
3. тпсб – Sekundenschlaf (Blackest Ever Black)
4. Vatican Shadow/Ancient Methods – Bunkerterror (Hospital Productions)
5. Blawan – Nutrition (Ternesc)