After years in the background with Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, Cut Chemist will grab some limelight with the fall release of his solo debut, The Audience Is Listening.
In assembling the album, the DJ followed an axiom laid down by the hardest working man in showbiz. “It’s like James Brown said, ‘Put the good shit first,'” says Cut Chemist. “That’s the main issue. If it doesn’t grab you in the first two seconds, you’re not doing anything. Hopefully there’s nothing on there to put anybody to sleep.”
As for The Audience‘s sound, not surprisingly, the album is all over the map. “There’s everything from Brazilian to rock to lots of world stuff — obviously Ozomatli influenced me a lot,” he says. “There’s a lot of hip-hop turntable stuff — like the stuff I did with Jurassic — a couple rap tunes, some straight-up samba and maybe a rockabilly-ish one.”
The samba track, “The Garden,” takes the vocal from Astrud Gilberto’s “Berimbau,” but, to spare any sample-clearance hassles, features a group of Brazilian musicians Cut Chemist met on a recent trip to South America.
The album’s title is a sly dig at the decreasing attention spans of music fans. “That Crazy Frog song is a ring tone — it’s not even a song — and it’s selling more than Coldplay,” Cut Chemist says of the novelty number that topped the U.K. chart. “It’s like, it’s here, and then it’s gone. Next one. All the time I take for the subtleties I wish people would get, and they’re like, ‘I don’t even have time for that kind of subtlety. Give me everything simple, perfect and then move on.’ I’m just going to DJ with a bag over my head like that dude on The Gong Show [laughs].”
This prompted Cut Chemist to distill the songs into a more digestible form. “This album started out as having seven- and eight-minute songs that went through all these movements,” he says. “Then, at the beginning of the year, I was like, ‘I need to edit these down to three minutes.’ This whole new consciousness is affecting me too. Without compromising what I do and keeping the progressiveness in there, I’m making my dialogue a little shorter. It’s all good . . . Gotta keep it moving.”
Cut Chemist will tour in support of The Audience Is Listening this fall.