LIVE REVIEW: CAPTAIN CUTS AT EMO NITE DAY 2018
STORY // ANGIE PICCIRILLO
Captain Cuts is two things, 1) The Music Industry’s best kept secret and 2) three of the silliest dudes in existence. I’ve covered these guys before, and I can’t really understand why they aren’t a household name yet since their level of producing knowledge seems to far exceed anything I’ve heard lately. Plus, how must it feel to walk around in the world saying you wrote “Shut Up and Dance With Me?” — Arguably one of the most successful pop songs of the past five years, so successful I can’t even form a proper-sounding sentence as to how many times platinum this song has gone…
Besides writing and producing for mega acts like Walk the Moon and Bebe Rexha, these dudes have co-writes and co-producer credits for some of my personal faves like Smallpools, lovelytheband, The Night Game, Neon Trees and Amy Shark — and several “scroll pages worth” of other artists on their Wikipedia.
If you aren’t familiar, the trio consists of producer/songwriters Ben Berger, Ryan McMahon and Ryan Rabin (who’s also in the popular band, Grouplove). Oh, and you can add “artists” to that list, since the guys were signed to a deal with Epic records in 2016, and have released a few of their own tracks like “Love like We Used To” and “Cocaina.”
Maybe one of the more little known (to some?) things about Captain Cuts, is one of my favorite things about them — they also DJ at Emo Nite. Which, if you don’t know what Emo Nite is, it’s a monthly event created by three friends: TJ Petracca, Babs Szabo and Morgan Freed that celebrates the golden age of Emo music. With its’ line up of guest DJ’s like Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker playing their fave emo and pop-punk faves from the mid-2000s, featured appearances by Dashboard Confessional and All Time Low playing their classic hits, and even a bunch of new bands like I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME, and Machine Gun Kelly — the event just recently started having events in other cities, and will soon host a tour featuring 3OH!3 with Lil Aaron.
A few years ago, the Captain Cuts guys say they attended Emo Nite, and once they saw Mark Hoppus DJing, knew that they HAD to be involved. They started DJing the event, even providing their thirty minute sets on Soundcloud for download for the annual “Emo Nite Day” — which just took place for its’ third year in a row at the Shrine in Los Angeles. This year, the Captain Cuts crew has severely outdone themselves with their mix — that is NOT just a DJ set, but an actual thirty minute remixed and reproduced set of some of the best Emo songs ever. From My Chemical Romance’s “I’m Not Okay” to Paramore’s “Still Into You,” imagine your old faves from the mid-2000’s with giant Chainsmokers-like drops — and even some reimagined more stripped moments like a pretty epic autotuned solo-ed vocal for Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Kinda Life.”
Take a listen to this epic remix, and then peep the Q&A with your new favorite producer/DJ trip, Captain Cuts below.
How did you originally get involved with Emo Nite?
Early 2015. We heard through friends that Mark Hoppus was DJing an event called Emo Nite (started by TJ, Babs, and Morgan). We went and within 5 minutes, we knew we needed to be involved in any way we could. Every DJ was playing full emo songs thru Spotify, which was rad, but we had an idea to switch things up a bit. We went home and began making mash-ups, remixes, and shorter edits of the songs, which is where the idea for the mixtapes started to take shape.
This is the third year you’ve released your epic 30 minute set on Soundcloud — where do you guys start with the ideas to put these together? Do you each take ten minutes?
If by 10 minutes, you mean 10 months, then yeah! At this point, we have compiled a master spreadsheet of 100s of songs – it’s a list of older emo/pop-punks songs and newer pop/electronic/trap/future bass songs. Each song has a key and BPM next to it and we can sort the list by key, bpm or song title. So it makes it very easy to find songs that will mash up well together. But since we’re also producers, sometimes we’ll end up just doing a full original remix like the My Chemical Romance “I’m Not Okay” remix.
How long does the set take to put together? Do you have to get approval/stems from the artists you’re using in these mixes?
We spend WAY too much time on these mixtapes! Each mixtape takes 2-3 months to finish. The hardest part is finding acapellas of all these songs from 10-15 years ago – we’re constantly searching obscure internet forums, emailing the original producers or mixing engineers, using artificial intelligence engines that somehow separate vocals from an original mp3 (shout out to PhonicMind!). We even had Gabe Saporta (Formerly of Midtown and Cobra Starship) come re-sing his vocal from a couple old Midtown songs!
Do you think you’ve changed or learned anything new about remixing from listening to “If you’re listening….” to “The Life of Emo” to “EMOWORLD”?
We’ve definitely improved our production and mixing skills over the past 4 years. Listening back to the first mixtape now, the quality of the mixes are nottttt great. But one thing we always realize is that these old songs were just amazing pop songs with an alternative twist to them, so re-imagining them has definitely helped us become better writer/producers.
Did you guys grow up as “emo” kids? What was your favorite emo band?
100%. We played in some pretty bad pop punk bands in high school. We went to a lot of shows though – Say Anything, New Found Glory, Saves The Day, Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Something Corporate, and of course Blink 182 were the kings. We are legitimate fans of every single song on all 3 of our mixtapes.
Is Captain Cuts actually an emo band? (kidding)
Hit us with the aux cable and a hair straightener and we’ll show you
If you had to choose: Panic at the Disco or My Chemical Romance?
This question is just cruel!
What’s different performing the set live at Emo Nite? Can anything go wrong?
We have separate DJ edits of each remix/mashup bc it’s nice to have the freedom to change things up on the fly – also, it means every Captain Cuts Emo Nite set is different. We play last and by 1am, it gets unbelievably wild at Emo Nite. It wouldn’t be a true Cuts set without 100s of drunk sweaty kids on that tiny stage, PBRs exploding all over the mixer, and the occasional flying elbow off the DJ table.
Besides being known for Emo Nite, you guys have released a few of your own singles “Do you think about me”, “Cocaina” and “Love Like We Used To”…. are you planning to release anything else new?
We’ve done songs with Bebe Rexha, Walk The Moon, Halsey, Keith Urban… but sometimes there are songs that just couldn’t be cut by another artist. So it’s been great to have our own artist project on Epic Records as an outlet to release those songs. No pop artist would have ever recorded “Cocaina” – so we put it out with our buddy Jerm!
What is the plan for Captain Cuts Next?
We come up with a lot of Captain Cuts puns, so ideally we’ll eventually have a production company called The Cutting Room, a restaurant called The Cutting Board, and a pirate ship themed bar called This Is Your Captain Peaking
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