I got a bunch of free records off my friend Aphasic about two years ago, all of which were great and some of which ended up getting played on RSI Radio volume 2. A couple of them were so mental they had to be played towards the end.
Of those, Toe Cutter was arguably the maddest. From the “drinking lots beer and fucking shit up” end of breakcore (rather than the ultra-left avant garde one), Toe Cutter mashes up house music, blasts of digital distortion, pissed off people from the TV and anything else which is to hand. It’s not pretending to be clever or innovative or even “good”, which is why maybe it always brings a smile to my face.
Where are you from, anyway?
“Toecutter” is slang, right? I can’t figure out what it means, though?
It has many resonances in Australian culture, in the 1920’s and 30’s there were gangs in Sydney called razor gangs (they used straight razors as weapons) and there was one called the Toecutters. From there, a Toecutter came to mean a criminal who steals (by standover tactics / violence) from other criminals; eg. a crew robs a bank, the Toecutter hears about it, finds the gang before the cops and cuts off their toes until they give up the cash. Then in the late 1970’s, George Miller wrote and directed Mad Max, and the leader of the outlaw motorcycle gang was called Toecutter.
When did you start making music and are there any very embarrassing pre-Toecutter projects we should know about?
It was 1999 I started cutting and sampling sounds. Before then I was DJing about 5 years, mostly hard techno then DHR and related.
You mention in the sleevenotes for the “We Topia” double LP that you’ve had some grief off recording engineers and other people – is this common? Why do you think it freaks people out? I remember Scud and Aphasic taking an early Ambush record into a drum ‘n’ bass shop and the guy behind the counter just put the needle on the record for, like, 2 seconds and said “nah mate!” What is the strangest response you’ve had?
Very common. “It’s just not the way music is meant to sound” is the kind of attitude I come across all the time. The sound guys are actually getting more relaxed about distortion than they were when I was playing DHR before the turn of the millennium. I guess one of my favourite responses was in Holland where the guy in the shop listened to my record and just kind of gritted his teeth and said “I’m sorry, we only sell one thing here…” I guess my record wasn’t that one thing! Oh, another great one was “off, off NOW!”
What’s the first piece of music you heard which made you go “huh? wow!”
Probably the soundtrack to Beat Street when they used some digital editing like “Dancin-, Dancin’, Da-Da-Da-Da-Da-Dancin’- All night long!” and I couldn’t get my head around it, so I used to rewind it over and over again to in part relive the impossible and try to understand it. I have since sampled it and used it in one track already, but it needs a bigger feature, especially in my new house project.
(There were more questions but we were chronically unable to get our respective acts together over a long period of time, so here it all is, as is!)