English DJs Matt Black and Jonathan Moore began working together in the mid-eighties on the pirate radio station KissFM. Shortly thereafter they released their first single, 'Say Kids, What Time Is It?', followed by an influential remix of Eric B and Rakim's 'Paid in Full.' In 1991 they started their own imprint, Ninja Tune, which continues to release groundbreaking and extremely diverse music by a small army of like-minded artists. In 1997 the duo unveiled their own real time video manipulation software, VJamm. Coldcut's current live and DJ sets rely on video as much as much as records, taking the concept of multimedia performance into largely uncharted territory.
Conceptually, Coldcut owes as much to the ideas of beat writer and cut-up theorist William S. Burroughs, 70's art/industrial group Throbbing Gristle, and the religious writings of J.R. "Bobb" Dobbs as much as to Hip Hop originators like Grandmaster Flash or later innovators Double D and Steinski. Recognizing the power inherent in Burroughs' cut-up technique and its presence in Hip Hop music, Moore and Black have relentlessly pushed the D.I.Y. ethic and an understanding of play as a means of fostering greater interaction with and understanding of the world around you. The similarities between this ethos and that of Hacking need hardly be stated. Their label, Ninja Tune, uses a corporate facade to communicate via the marketplace itself, an idea first implimented by Throbbing Gristle via their own Industrial Records imprint. One of the key aspects of the Ninja Tune ethos, Stealth, implies that their following of DJs and listeners are "agents" in a Burroughsian sense, propigating the D.I.Y. ethic of play as an essentially subversive act by replaying and manipulating media under the radar of mainstream culture.