> WILLIAM BENNETT (CUT HANDS) INTERVIEW by Chris D (Decibel Magazine)
Decibel Magazine (DM): What is Afro Noise?
William Bennett (WB): This was the name of the debut Cut Hands record, essentially referring to two fused elements I began experimenting (and not without some initial trepidation!) with around 2003: hand percussion and electronic ‘noise’, initially on the song ‘Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel’.
DM: Where did the name Cut Hands originate?
WB: It was from the song I wrote entitled ‘Cut Hands Has The Solution’, released at that time (on the album Bird Seed, 2003) which mostly deals with eating disorders.
DM: You are still part of Whitehouse. Is Cut Hands a sort of creative release from Whitehouse or are they mutual exclusive creative spheres?
WB: I put a stop to Whitehouse as an ongoing project in 2008, it wasn’t really planned that way but Cut Hands has taken up all my time ever since.
DM: What’s different about electronic music in the 80s when you kicked off Whitehouse and now?
WB: I guess the main thing is that audiences had such little access to information, not to mention electronic musical technology, that there was a dramatically different level of expectation. At shows, for example, there was a real sense of ‘what the fuck is that’, it’d be very difficult to achieve that type of response now.
DM: Polyrhythm is a common attribute across African music. How do polyrhythms play into the music you create for Cut Hands?
WB: With an absence of voice and conventional musical instrumentation, it’s to polymeters and polyrhythns I turn to provide the overwhelming intellectual and physical stimulation I crave. Many of the voodoo polyrhythns are intensely complex and I wouldn’t know how to deconstruct them if I tried, or even wanted to, nor do I have the musical skill or background. Therefore, I merely take inspiration from the feeling and take it from there within my own musical domain of experience, which is complex in its own right.
DM:You’re bridging vévé art with African-informed musical styles. Where’s the connector between Haitian voodoo symbols and Cut Hands’ musical endeavors, which appear to be more African than Caribbean (realizing there’s a cultural and historical connection, obviously)?
WB: Voodoo is a syncretic religion that borrows from a wide range of sources both African and European, in addition to local Caribbean or American. It is also a very open and permissive religion to all kinds of people and sexuality. As with the music I think what’s important is the spirit rather than specific geographic origins of its various facets.
DM: You say you’re “Easily pleased, never satisfied”. What does that mean in relation to Cut Hands?
WB: This is just kind of how I am with life so it applies to making music as much as eating out or watching a movie. Creatively, it can be a curse too, things end up taking much much longer than they need to.
DM: What excites you about making music at this stage?
WB: That rare moment of successful alchemy, when the components produce a magical sound far greater than the sum of their parts. Sometimes you can go many weeks without getting that. I adore playing live, too.
DM: Damballah 58 came out last year. What are you currently working on? And where can people find it?
WB: Volumes 3 and 4 just came out as vinyl LPs, am also working very hard on a brand new studio album.
DM: Is there still art in releasing physical product? The digital age has its pros and cons, naturally.
WB: I think so. There is a palpable kinesthetic pleasure in touching and manipulating that I find deeply attractive. Certain types of music perhaps don’t benefit from that so much. For me, nothing beats physicality.
(** Cut Hands’ Damballah 58, Volume 3, and Volume 4 are available now. Check out Bennett’s blog (HERE) for ordering information, what’s he’s listening to, what he’s reading, and more!)