William Bennett (Cut Hands) interviewed
** The original interview Cut Hands’ William Bennett is featured in our groundbreakingly awesome “noise issue” (HERE). What follows below is the full transcript. If you’re adventurous enough to you’ll succumb to Bennett’s Afro Noise.
What is Afro Noise?
William Bennett: 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’.
Where did the name Cut Hands originate?
William Bennett: 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.
You are still part of Whitehouse. Is Cut Hands a sort of creative release from Whitehouse or are they mutual exclusive creative spheres?
William Bennett: 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.
What’s different about electronic music in the 80s when you kicked off Whitehouse and now?
William Bennett: 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.
Polyrhythm is a common attribute across African music. How do polyrhythms play into the music you create for Cut Hands?
William Bennett: 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.
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)?
William Bennett: 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.
You say you’re “Easily pleased, never satisfied”. What does that mean in relation to Cut Hands?
William Bennett: 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.
What excites you about making music at this stage?
William Bennett: 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.
Damballah 58 came out last year. What are you currently working on? And where can people find it?
Volumes 3 and 4 just came out as vinyl LPs, am also working very hard on a brand new studio album.
Is there still art in releasing physical product? The digital age has its pros and cons, naturally.
William Bennett: 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!