A Group Like CUTWITH.
A group like CUTWITH, on paper, shouldn’t work. The members, Sean, Shem, and Betty Adewole, who met through nights out and mutual friends, began freestyling together and knew instantly there was a music chemistry they wanted to tap into. Already a highly successful model, Betty Adewole saw the opportunity to join the group as a chance to show a more collaborative, creative, raw, and honest side of herself whilst also doing something fun with her friends.
Their sound, carved from, but not limited to, choppy trance-like synths and pulsating beats delivers the perfect fusion of genres ranging from hip-hop to soul to jazz resulting in a tonality that aims to flip and disrupt the current musical trends and make their own mark and transport us into their universe. Flitting around styles like 90s sub-genres, their overflowing rich musical tones and confessional verses carry a genuinely creative and candid message offered in a thrilling ride. CUTWITH, a name conceived from a previous mixtape project idea, fell into the right hands when the trio met and the result is their latest EP release Delivered By and latest single release Just Met. Filled with abundant free-flowing raps packed with undulating energy and infectious soul-punk undertones. Here is the our discussion below where we discuss Betty Adewole’s transition from modelling to music, the trio’s songwriting and creative process, releasing their music independently, and the current state of the music industry.
What are the origins of CUTWITH? How did you form?
Shem:I met Sean through a mutual friend at his bar in Peckham, a couple after parties later we ended up back at his place waved recording our first song together the very same night we met. Betty is my g [so] we used to always freestyle whenever we hung out. One night I brought her over to Sean's and she spat a killer freestyle which he recorded on the low and it became " Betty Bars ". We asked Betty if she would join Cut With she said “hell yeah” and the rest is history.
How did you develop the bands sound and direction? Did you discover it early on?
Sean: Whether its a toy keyboard, a new bass effect or a lyric that I had in my head for a while its always been a journey. Trying to make the experience of writing less like driving down a road and more like riding a rollercoaster. Sometimes a song will change 10 times before any one hears it, nothing is set in stone and we are not precious about anything. Fluidity and natural progression have been the drive since I first played in bands 15 years ago.
Shem: As far as the direction we are all artists and creative thinkers so it's always evolving.
Betty: I think we each individually bring something to the table organically.
What kind of music was around you growing up? Was there someone in your life that encouraged you to be artistic?
My dad exposed me to a variety of music when I was growing up and there was always music playing in the house. He had a record player which he would play music on.
Shem: I grew up listening to everything my mum played around the house. The sounds of soul, reggae and Jazz was constantly filling up our hallways, I remember loving Sade and Kate Bush as a kid.
My mum is a multi disciplinary artist and designer so I've always been around art growing up. My uncle is a photographer and filmmaker who would always encourage, educate and inspire me to pursue and value my art.
Sean: I never had CD’s until I was a teenager I was brought up on my Dad & Step Dads old Dub and Punk records, still have them all. Growing up I was a little skaterat punk kid, did badly at school and only found solace in being creative, kicked out of 2 schools and only ever been given merit for my art whatever form.
Talk a little about the process when creating a song...Your music often contains an honest flow and so I wonder how you organise these flows and sounds and raps into a song?
Betty: The process of creating a song usually starts with Sean making a beat and template which Shem and I then listen and write to. Or we’ll just be chilling together and it will happen organically…
Sean: It's a great release of energy, however it starts or ends up. A lot of freestyles a lot of rough sketchbook style work until we pull it together. It’s like knowing when to put your paintbrush down.
Whose music recently has inspired you the most?
Shem: I just love Suicide and Gray they always inspire me.
Betty: The music that has recently inspired me the most has been by the Migos. I think they have their own sound and style of rapping which is recognisable and fresh. Listening to their music encouraged me to embrace my own style or styles of rapping. I’ve also been inspired by Donny Hathaway as his music is times and soulful.
How and when did you decide that music was something you were going to pursue?
Betty: A couple of years after I started modelling I began to network and meet more people that were seriously into music. I then started randomly jamming with people and decided to vocalise my passion amongst peers. Through this I decided I wanted to pursue music as I felt more confident in myself from modelling and was exposed to people that could bring that to fruition.
What would you say are the biggest differences between modeling and getting involved in music with CUTWITH?
Betty: I think the biggest differences between modelling and getting involved in music with CUTWITH is the creative freedom I have. I find modelling to be more structured compared to working with the boys. Making music in general I find is very creative but it’s a very relaxed atmosphere whenever we make music. I also feel that as we are friends it’s very enjoyable and fun and feels like play rather than work.
What was the creative process behind making the 'Delivered By' EP? What themes or stories did you want to express?
What was the idea behind the latest music video and artwork?
Sean: It’s about meeting someone for the first time falling in love and knowing how much it will hurt when they are gone but still wanting to take the jump. It’s a lot of footage from the last few years from [our] phones and cameras. We framed it in the crucifix we have kind of adopted in our branding. [The idea of] good vs evil, negatives and positives. [There is] so much space where nothing happens and a small space where loads happens [and] the colours and the mood fit the song.
You released your EP independently. Why did you decide to go down that route?
Sean: The world has changed and changes every day. The music industry is a secret club that you don’t have to be part of anymore. It hasn’t necessarily worked for us yet but we get to play music we have made to an audience, [and] that’s all I wanted when I started. If something was thrown at us we would take [it] but it’s not a luxury we have at the moment so why let that limit us.
Shem: It's great to have full creative control and your destiny in your own hands.
How do you feel about the UK music industry? Do you like the direction it is going in? What are some things you have noticed?
Betty: We have a lot of UK talent that gets ignored because it’s too different. The UK has a lot of talented, undiscovered and unique artists to offer.
Sean: I’m gassed to see grime smashing it worldwide. Drum and bass having a big resurgence and some exciting guitar stuff out there too.The UK has been the centre of underground music for so long now. I’m just happy to be part of it.
Who would be your dream collaboration be with and why?
Sean: Shem always talked about making a film of our journey [so] for me I would definitely love to do a musical. Probably all the showtunes my Mum played when I was a kid [helped influence that]. I like to tell stories in our songs so [that] would cross over nice.
Betty: I think my dream collaboration would be Kanye West. We all admire his creativity. He is my favourite artist and I think he is fearless and also a visionary. I believe he takes music beyond just music into a boundless place.
What other passions do you all have outside of fashion and music?
Shem: I’m an artist, I paint pretty much anything I get my hands on and I will make a film one day.
Betty: Another passion I have outside of fashion and music is acting. It’s something I’m currently pursuing and working on. I also enjoy painting like Shem but in my spare time. It’s more of a personal expression.
Sean: I work a full time job [so] the music is my passion and escape I struggle with time and mostly work on the music in inhospitable hours. I’m excited about having a family too and bless my girlfriend for putting up with the late nights and muffled bass tones ringing through the walls while she sleeps next door.
What do you want people to take away from CUTWITH's music? And what is next for CUTWITH?
Betty: What I would like people to take away from CUTWITH’s music is the expression and experience of individuality. Also the confidence to be unique and fearless in that uniqueness and to love yourself. Overall love wins!
Shem: I just want people to learn to love themselves as no one is perfect and it's actually fine, as we all f**k up we all feel low but as long as you know who you are and you are always prepared to grow things will be ok.
Sean: I think if someone takes anything from it our job is done, we are lucky to have the opportunities to connect with people on those levels and next up for CUTWITH is more gigs, videos music and projects.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity]