Cut Snake discusses sunrise sets and if he'll ever DJ with former partner Fisher again
Australian DJ and producer Leigh “Sedz” Sedley, known as Cut Snake behind the decks, has had problems staying awake lately.
On this May afternoon, it’s because he’s stuffed from a hefty poke bowl he ate near his home in San Diego. A few days earlier, however, being asked to DJ at the crack of dawn at Desert Hearts Festival had been messing with his sleep schedule.
Sunrise sets are some of the most coveted slots at events like Desert Hearts and Burning Man, where music echoes through the air at all hours of the day and night. Setting the tone of the day for thousands of campers, who often become euphoric at the sight of the rising sun, is considered an honor.
But for Sedley, it was trickier to navigate. Firstly, the 35-year-old had never before played at sunrise -- not for an official festival booking, anyway. Furthermore, he only learned of his assignment less than a week before the event. It was also a lot tougher to see daybreak after a pair of long nights spent performing in El Paso, Texas and Santa Barbara, California.
Nevertheless, Sedley persisted and lived to tell the tale. He's in the process of starting his own label, Big Bamboo, and the imprint's first Cut Snake release is tentatively set for June.
Sedley talked to AOL about who he thinks plays the best sunrise sets, his former career as a professional surfer and a possible reunion down the road with former partner-in-crime Fisher, who left Cut Snake last year and has found success as a solo act.
AOL: What did you think about your first sunrise set? What did you like and not like about the experience?
Cut Snake: I loved it. The only thing I didn’t like was the stress it gave me leading up to doing it. I was worried because I hadn’t prepared for it until a few days before since I thought I was playing at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Then, I found out I was doing sunrise!
The best thing was it allowed me to play different music than I normally do. It was a challenge. It ended up working out really well, everyone seemed to be pretty into it. Going into Monday morning, people are dealing with a lot of mixed emotions and are on different wavelengths. So, I didn’t wanna play anything too heavy. I wanted to play something that was pretty easy on the ears so people could just kind of kick it and bring their weeks smoothly into Monday.
AOL: Is there a DJ who you think puts on especially good sunrise sets that you drew inspiration from?
CS: There’s definitely some DJs who are known for that, like Lee Burridge and some guys who play every year out at Burning Man. I was getting inspiration from a Carl Cox sunrise [set] I saw out at Burning Man in 2017. I wanted to be a little more uplifting and fun. I wasn’t trying to play anything too deep or trippy, just boppy fun stuff to put people in a good mood.
AOL: Did you sleep at all leading up to the set, or did you stay up?
CS: I had passed out Friday night in El Paso, flew straight to Santa Barbara for Saturday and didn’t get too much sleep either night. Then I drove home [to San Diego] on Sunday, did some prep and started to get really tired. So I slept a bit, then had a couple mates come and get me. We left at 1:30 [a.m.], don’t think we got to the festival until 3 a.m. I was pretty delirious by the time it had finished. But compared to some of the people I saw out there, I wasn’t as tired as some of them [laughs].
AOL: You're a former professional surfer -- how much do you get to surf these days? When did you switch concentrating from surfing to DJing and why?
CS: I get to quite a bit, still. I live really close to the beach. Whenever there are a few fun waves, I'll go out there. I actually just spent a week in Australia, surfed a bunch out there. It's probably something I'll do for the rest of my life.
I got to a point in my surfing career where I wasn’t cutting it with the young kids. They were so good, I couldn’t keep up. And I was getting into music, and even though I didn’t think that's what I wanted to do, it just kind of happened. I couldn’t have asked for two better jobs, I’ve been pretty lucky. But I started playing a few gigs here and there while I was still surfing. Then I started getting a bit more serious as I was transitioning out of surfing. I was also producing music, so I brought out records here and there to parties. Then I signed a deal with Warner Bros., and it was all on from there.
AOL: You and Fisher were together as Cut Snake for a long time. When you and him split last year, did you take it as an opportunity to change anything about Cut Snake's sound, or keep it mostly as is?
CS: I don’t think it's changed too much. The DJ sets have probably changed quite a bit, they’re probably a little bit more serious. Having full creative control, you tend to steer something in your own direction. But I don’t think the sound of Cut Snake tracks have changed too much.
AOL: You had some massive tracks come out on the "Want It All" EP for Desert Hearts Records last summer after the Fisher split. Do you like having more control or do you miss having someone to bounce ideas off of?
CS: I like having full creative control for sure. Those records that were on that EP, I think they're a true reflection of what I make most of the time. I'm going back to the stuff I made earlier on for Cut Snake, like "Time" and "Face Down." Just a little bit more melodic stuff.
AOL: I've seen some great back-to-back (B2B) performances where you and another DJ alternate tracks at different festivals. Who is your favorite to do a B2B set with?
CS: Justin Jay. He really switches up vibes and is a fun bloke to DJ with. I had a good one with Ardalan at CRSSD, he had some really weird records for that. We had no plan at all for that, we just kind of winged it and it worked out. It's also great to go B2B with the Yolanda Be Cool guys, because we just get drunk and have a hell of a time. DJing with any fellow Australian is a great time.
Hell, I went B2B with Fisher for about 10 years and that worked out pretty well!
AOL: I'm sure fans would love to see you and Fisher do a sort of B2B reunion at a festival in the future. Could you see that happening at some point?
CS: It hasn’t been talked about, but I definitely wouldn’t count it out. I'm sure we’ll cross each other in the future at one of these festivals and we’ll pop on. It'll have to come really naturally, I think. He’s just so busy these days, I might have to tie him down!
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.