Reigniting the full-throttle thrills of big beat for the TikTok generation, Cheap Cuts took a giant first step with their debut single ‘Check Your Phone’.
Twisted into an art-pop social commentary with anxious spoken word from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, the track received attention from Dork, Notion, NME and Rock Sound plus early support from US alternative radio. Its universal theme then went global, with subsequent French and Korean language versions.
The shape-shifting conceptual duo – Johnny Harris and Jack Leonard – now heighten the fun factor of their irrepressible productions with their second single ‘You Make Me Wanna Dance’. Like big beat’s crowd-pleasing heyday, the song’s funk-fuelled bass, unrestrained piano and infectious handclaps provide an animated elation, while Dan Caplen provides the chic R&B/pop vocal that helped him make the Rudimental / Macklemore / Jess Glynne hit ‘These Days’ a worldwide smash.
We caught up with Cheap Cuts to learn more about “You Make My Wanna Dance”, and more. Read on!
Varun – Hi there, thanks for taking time out for this interview! How has the past year been for you?
Cheap Cuts – You’re welcome! Thanks for having us. Same as it’s been for everyone – weird! Luckily we’ve been tucked away writing new material which has set us up for this year.
Varun – Can you introduce yourself to fans around the world?
Cheap Cuts – Hi, we’re cheapcuts. We’re made up of a Yorkshireman named Jack Leonard and a Swedishman named Jonny Harris. We’re based in London and we like trumpets.
Varun – We’re loving You Make Me Wanna Dance! Can you’ll tell us more about how the creative process came about with the single?
Cheap Cuts – Thanks! The initial demo was written in about ten minutes in 2019. But the evolution of the song went through multiple stages over 18 months. I (Jack) originally recorded the demo vocal in a ‘Right Said Fred’ kind of way which was definitely a vibe but not exactly what we were after. Then I met Dan Caplen and played him the track, which he loved. He jumped on it and re-did it the week after and absolutely nailed it. Then the lyrics changed slightly, so I had to fly out to Barbados and a re record Dan in a flat in Oistins, sandwiched between two mattresses in 40degree heat (but that’s another story).
The song is about the energy you get from other people, the people that make you feel most alive. It’s a celebration of connection. But At the same time it’s not to be taken too seriously. More dancing, less thinking!
Varun – Musically and otherwise, how has the pandemic affected your creative process?
Cheap Cuts – Producers and songwriters spend most of their time locked away making music, so it didn’t seem to affect anything at first. But the lack of engagement with people, and those chance occurrences which make for great stories meant the songwriting well became pretty dry. But it means you have to dig deeper and press on. The introduction of zoom in songwriting and music making has been a revelation to me. Being able to beam someone in for half an hour for an extra ear is a luxury. For a collaborative project like cheapcuts that sort of thing is great, so I suppose that’s one of the positives.
Varun – What is your thought on the important of social media platforms like tik tok and Instagram to promote music for upcoming artists? Do you’ll think it influences the direction in an artist’s production in any way?
Cheap Cuts – I think it’s pretty essential if you want to get your music out there. These platforms are essentially just modern day billboards that people look at multiple times a day. To not engage or to think you’re above social media or too cool for is just silly and a bit ignorant. I’m not condoning social media at all. But in 2021, it serves as an artist’s fanzine, billboard and communication tool – and it helps push a project forward. It just needs to work for you.
Has it influenced pop music? I think it has For example, chorus’s are brought to the front of a song to keep people hooked from the off so they don’t change the track.
Although I would never advise bending the will of a song. People are too clever and can spot it a mile away.
Varun – Can you tell us about your top 3 records at the moment?
Cheap cuts – Sure.
1. 6’s to 9’s ft Rationale by Big Wilde is on repeat at the min. It has a 90s flavor but uses great contemporary synth sounds.
2. Heir – Nobody Wants Me. She’s a new artist and has something really special about her. We’re producing her next single but this track just has a great feel to it.
3. Tomorrow never knows – Junior Parker. chemical brothers at latitude was the first gig I saw back after the pandemic. They played this out before they came out and it blew me away. It’s a totally different spin on the Beatles original. It’s super tense and a bit dark, but it’s got an amazing psychedelic quality to it. It’s like everything is about to kick off!
Varun – What is next for Cheap Cuts on the music front?
Cheap Cuts – Lots of new music. You’ll see very soon!
Varun – Can you tell us about your best tips for upcoming producers, in terms of what you guys wish you had known when you started out?
Cheap Cuts – Listen to everything. Your taste and point
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