Future Cut, The Brains Behind the Scenes

You might not recognise these two sharply dressed men from their photo, but between them they’ve contributed to over 25 million record sales,.

Published Jan 8, 2014 by admin

Words: Kyle Goodmin

You might not recognise these two sharply dressed men from their photo, but between them they’ve contributed to over 25 million record sales, three UK #1 singles and countless other international chart-topping hits. This is Future Cut – the production team that every big star wants to work with. After meeting on Manchester’s drum ‘n’ bass scene in the mid-nineties, Tunde Babalola and Darren Lewis, who were both rival promoters at the time, swiftly put their contentions aside to form the most formidable production partnerships of the 21st century. “He blagged himself into one of my nights,” jokes Lewis, “which was only a pound on the door. We just became friends from there really.”


Their big break came as somewhat of a surprise when a young female singer was sent up to Manchester to record an album in their tiny basement studio for a mere £500. “There was this girl from London that no-one really cared about,” recalls Lewis, “and it turned out to be Lily Allen. It sounds stupid now, but we thought we were doing a UK hip hop record with a female singer and it ended up being Lily’s first album.”


The extraordinary success that followed was something neither producer was expecting, and before they knew it, lead single, Smile, had rocketed to the number one spot in the UK singles chart. “Our manager at the time phoned us and said he thought Smile would go to number one,” Babalola explained. “We just thought he was nuts. We had no idea it would make that much of a splash.”


It’s been six years and four months since Smile hit the top spot, but Lewis still remembers the day clearly: “We were touring with Lily at the time, going from Oxygen to T in the Park,” he recounted. “We were all a bit tired when we got the call saying the single had gone to number one. It hadn’t really clicked. But that night Lily announced it to the audience and they just went ballistic, at that point it really kind of kicked.”


Since that evening, the two friends have gone on to work with artists such as Shakira, Professor Green, Rihanna, Nicole Scherzinger and Olly Murs – and although their days of putting out drum ‘n’ bass tracks are now just a raucous and distant memory, the spirit of the genre will always remain at the core of their musical relationship. “We still draw influences from drum ‘n’ bass,” says Babalola. “It was a great breeding ground for how we produce. Drum ‘n’ bass, especially in the UK, was at the forefront of music technology. We’ve taken that ethos and turned it into pop music.”


For all their success, Tunde Babalola and Darren Lewis have remained completely ego-free. They are the most in-demand producers in the country right now but their feet are still planted firmly on the ground. “We genuinely love what we do,” said Lewis. “We appreciate that we’re lucky to do a job we enjoy. I love getting up in the morning and going to the studio and making music, everything else is just a bonus.” And thankfully for these two producers, the bonuses sure have been fruitful.


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