Outside his trademark yellow van, white he uses to transport music gear, travel cross-country, and deliver beats to faithful fans, local DJ Cut La Whut can be found mixing different genres on his turntables.
Brian James, or “Cutter,” as he is affectionately known, is a master turntablist, blending house music, mid-tempo, breakbeats, and hip-hop.
Living in West Palm Beach, Florida, for a while, he was poised to enter the world of professional golf, but turned to music instead.
“I got into breakbeat sound in clubs in Florida,” he says. “It was huge back then, and I loved it, so I bought some records and turntables. I listened and learned what worked harmonically.”
As a teenager, James and his father visited Jackson from their hometown of Riverton, Wyoming, to hunt and snowboard. Jackson became home in the mid-’90s, and he learned from a host of local mentors including the beloved late King Weep and popular DJ Mikey Thunder.
“Being raised in a world of vinyl required infinite precision,” James says. “If you messed up a mix, you got booted off the decks.”
James worked with local promoter Dom Gagliardi to create Front Street Productions, which brought well-known DJ groups like Bassnectar and The Glitch Mob into Jackson to perform. “The DJ-centric lounge vibe didn’t exist back then,” James says.
But the 2006 Shambhala Festival in Canada was Cutter’s big break. “On my second year volunteering, the booking agent asked if I had any records,” he says. “It was one of the biggest game changers of my life.”
Now James lives on the Idaho side of the Tetons, and DJs local haunts in Teton Valley like the Knotty Pine Supper Club, Trap Bar, Wildlife Brewing, West Side Yard, and Tatanka Tavern. He mixes music at on-mountain events for Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club, Jackson Hole Moose Hockey games, summer concert series Jackson Hole Live, and private events on both sides of the Tetons.
Beyond his DJ empire, James is also a passionate artist and painter, and he recently finished a 9-foot by 4-foot glass mosaic of the Tetons composed of nearly 10,000 pieces of mirror. “It took a lot of tedious focus,” he says. “I spent about 180 hours over five years on it.”
Despite his busy schedule, James still finds time for art, as well as snowboarding and golf.
He plays about 100 gigs a year, traveling all across the region and to the West Coast and Canada, but he always loves coming home.
“Music is part of our lifestyle in Jackson Hole,” he says. “Everyone enjoys a good time, and DJ parties are the ideal platform. Setting up turntables in the parking lot for an après session, and seeing a crowd converge is the essence of why I DJ, and why I live in a ski town.”