Featured image: Peter Daye of Greensboro operates Cut the Music, a design and screen printing business. (photo by Todd Turner)
With options running low, Peter Daye scrolled through pages of Craigslist ads in search of a job.
“Deejaying was drying up and I was really hurting for cash,” he says.
Daye, who performed under his stage name — L in Japanese — began producing beats in 1999. He relocated from Chapel Hill to Greensboro 10 years ago, when the popularity of his musical artistry became overwhelming.
“Being L in Japanese, nobody saw me as Peter anymore,” he says. “I felt that it was time to leave because I was gonna be frustrated with being seen as this thing and not this person.”
He chose Greensboro because he had friends in the area, and he didn’t want to leave the state.
In 2013, Daye landed a job as an assistant at the now defunct Wear Yours screen-printing company in Greensboro. After two years with the outlet, he realized screen-printing was something he wanted to do on his own. He began paying closer attention at work and watching YouTube to learn graphic design. Once he felt prepared to start his own business in 2015, he made a bold move.
“I spent my last dollar buying a beginner’s DIY screen-print set and I borrowed money to buy a press,” Daye says.
Daye, a huge professional wrestling fan, gathered inspiration from World Wrestling Federation professional wrestler “Ravishing” Rick Rude for the name of his company, Cut the Music Prints. Rude would enter the arena and shout, “Cut the music!” so he could speak. For Daye, the phrase takes on a different meaning.
“By me saying, ‘Cut the music,’ it’s like me saying, ‘Kill the noise! My craft is speaking,’” he says.
Daye knew he wanted his first design to be Greensboro-themed, but was unsure where to begin. One day, he saw a man on the street wearing a shirt of a chemical element, and the light bulb in Daye’s head lit up.
“That’s perfect!” he remembers.
His “GSO Isotope” shirt design reimagines the city as part of the periodic table of elements. Greensboro appears as the element name, GSO as the element symbol and 336, Greensboro’s area code, as the atomic number. He chose that design as a starter for learning Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. After an hours-long night of toying with the software creating the design, Daye was mentally exhausted.
“I stared at it for about 10 minutes and went, I think I’m onto something here,” he says. “And then I went to sleep.”
With his screen-printing kit and press set up on his kitchen counter, Daye began printing “GSO Isotope” shirts.
In his business’ infancy, Daye would create his items in multiple locations: his former place of employment Home State Apparel, the screen-printing co-op in the Center for Visual Artists and even Supertex in Liberty. Now, Cut the Music is located in the storage area of Fire Star Pro Wrestling Academy, thanks to Daye’s friendship with owner LaBron Kozone.
“This has been my workspace for two years now,” he says. “It always comes back to professional wrestling.”
Using customer’s images or one’s he thinks up on his own using Illustrator or Photoshop, Daye prints designs onto a transparent overlay which gets applied to a screen using emulsion, a light-sensitive liquid that hardens at the application of ultraviolet light.
“It allows you to make better curves in designs than scissors or an X-Acto knife,” Daye says.
After rinsing the emulsion from the screen and leaving it to dry, Daye is left with a stencil of the design. Pressure is applied by a squeegee to an ink-loaded stencil onto fabric. Finally, the fabric is sent through a dryer on a conveyer belt, drying the ink and completing the item.
In addition to custom designs, Daye creates designs that are plays off popular logos, aiming to strike a sense of familiarity in viewers. The word “Greensboro” has taken the form of logos from various brands including sportswear brand Champion, soft drink Mountain Dew and adult film company PornHub.
Cut the Music saw its greatest amount of growth last summer as protestors marched the streets. Initially, Daye said he didn’t want to create shirts during the protests prompted by the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd because he didn’t like the idea of profiting off of the movement. But that changed when he saw a video of a guy demeaning the idea of Black Lives Matter Shirts on social media.
“Fuck this guy. I’m going to make Black Lives Matter shirts,” Daye thought.
The black shirts featuring the words “Black Lives Matter” in American flag print were purchased just as fast as Daye created them.
“That summer last year was Cut the Music prints coming into itself as a business,” he says.
Daye considers printing a powerful trade, commending the ability to create designs and send messages with printing. With his company, Daye aims to disprove the idea that years of schooling are necessary to become successful.
“If you’re someone like myself who’s a college dropout, and you’re looking for a trade without necessarily having to go to a technical school, you can learn everything from YouTube,” he says.
He defines himself as a person of the community, using Greensboro-based shirts to contribute to the town. He hopes his shirt designs create connections between him and the people wearing them, as well as the people wearing them with each other.
“I use this trade to be able to connect with the community that I’m in,” he says.
To learn more, follow Cut the Music Prints on Facebook and Instagram @ctmpgso. Find Daye’s pieces online at CutTheMusicPrints.com or in person at Design Archives Emporium in Greensboro and Winston-Salem and Vintage 2 Vogue in Greensboro.