Thoughts on a Sun-drenched Sound with RÜFÜS DU SOL

rufus du sol

Sun-drenched, melancholy, romance, coastlines, travel, and depth are a few descriptors that touch a bit on what RÜFÜS DU SOL is, but they are not like many other electronic music bands. At the basic level, they are an a trio that forms one complete, evolving band that works as perfectly together in an interview as they sound on stage. They may have a dance leaning with their style and sound, but there is a depth and intriguing wonder to their aesthetic. They have a sophisticated style, but as human beings they are authentically simple; humble artists who love what they do and are willing to go the distance to see how far they can keep doing what they love. Oh, and let's not forget some of the best songwriting you will hear in contemporary electronic music, yes I said it.

Working hard in a water tank on the Australian coast, RÜFÜS DU SOL came out with a number one album that has fueled their journey around the world over. They have given the world amazing shows and received rave reviews in kind, and now they dive back down under to work on their second great opus.

RÜFÜS DU SOL, if I had to sum my impression of them is this - they are super sentients who translate their own experiences and full spectrum of feelings and emotions fully into their project. Their sound is no different than their fingerprints, it’s clearly identifiable as their own, a feat not many bands will ever achieve.

What is up? How is life? What’s new with this thing called RÜFÜS DU SOL?

Jon George: Life’s good! We’re at the end of a pretty long stretch of touring, and it’s been heaps of fun, but this is the last of it. We’re pretty excited, it’s been tiring.

Tyrone Lindqvist: We’ve been touring for the last year and a half, we’ve had a few small breaks, but we haven’t had the chance to write for a really long time now, and we’ve been itching to do that. We got a taste for it when we were in Europe, playing some shows at the start of this tour and we did three weeks in Berlin and started on the second record. After this show, at the start of November, we start writing for the second album, or continue I guess. Pretty excited about that!

How does it feel to have hit #1 in Australia with your latest album Atlas? Surreal?

James Hunt: Surreal is definitely a word I would use for it. Particularly because we spent nine months to a year working on it; completely focused on trying to write something that we loved, took inspiration from all the people we listen to and that we are really happy with and that’s what we got in the end. So, we didn’t really have the foresight for how it was going to connect with people or how that was going to play, so it was just a massive surprise when it started rolling out the way it did. It was pretty amazing, and then full on effect that we could play shows to so many people around Australia and come across the world to US and to Europe.

In the past few years, you Australians have really conquered the world creatively speaking. Why do you personally think that is? What are they putting in the water down under that has you so inspired and ready to make beautiful things happen?

Jon George: We get asked a lot, particularly in the music industry, this sort of question and I think the most obvious thing to us is the support, from everyone, from all different genres too. Particularly with this electronic sound that we are pushing as well, everyone is so supportive of each other and everyone runs into each other in airports, in festivals, in the same sort venues around Australia, it’s not that big of a place. We definitely see a lot of artists all the time and you share your music, giving opinions back and forth and there is a real community vibe that’s really pushing each other with no negativity. That’s got to be a huge factor in this creative output that is coming out of Australia that seems to be pretty gold.

James Hunt: I think that once someone has gotten some international recognition, or an Australian artist is pretty motivating there is a knock on effect, I think particularly in the Australian industry because it’s so small and everyone knows each other and everyone is pretty friendly, there’s a bit of that camaraderie. You see your peers rising and that motivates you to rise. It’s pretty interesting to see that effect within such a small little island.

What would you say was the theme or overarching message of your most recent album Atlas?

Tyrone Lindqvist: It wasn’t really a theme. We write very much on a feeling basis. The feeling of the record was very much influenced by where we were at, and we were writing it on the coast of Australia, along the beaches during the summer in Australia. So, it was warm, I don’t know, I guess there are a lot of sun-drenched feelings in the album, so it’s a mixed feeling of euphoria and melancholy as well, it’s not too overtly happy. I think it was a good balance of light and dark.

When we went into writing the album, we all talked about what we wanted to get out of the album, and we wanted half the record to feel really light and to have this really nice positive energy to it. For the second half or half the sounds to have a deeper, darker undertone. I think the themes that come out of the record are probably pretty positive feeling.

James Hunt: There also was something thematically, and I don’t think this was something we calculated from the start, but it kind of became this way. There was a sense of and a real focus on places, locations, and sort of sometimes a sense of escapism, on taking yourself somewhere. That was what we were trying to do with the music, even down to each time we would write a demo track, we would go alphabetically for the working title. A would be Aubury, a town in Australia, B would be Berlin, etc., etc. I think that inherently became this theme of traveling or moving or taking yourself somewhere.

What is going on with the next album? What is it possibly going to sound like in a few words? If you can share, or is it super secret?

Jon George: Top Secret, haha! We don’t really know too much just yet, but from what we have been doing. It’s funny when people ask us what it’s going to sound like, or if it’s going to sound different from the last album. It’s going to sound different, but it’s also going to sound like us. We’re just always developing, progressing our natural tastes, listening to new artists and experiencing new things. Like Tyrone was saying, before the last album was definitely influenced by where we were, geographically. We are starting the writing process of the next album in Berlin, so maybe we’ll be vibing some of the feel of Berlin itself, and we’ll be finishing the album in Australia in the summer. We’re all better producers than when we wrote the last album, so hopefully we’ll bring some new techniques to the process as well.

Okay, so the name discrepancy, RÜFÜS DU SOL or RÜFÜS, why are you established and well known by both? Is there something different with either name?

James Hunt: RÜFÜS DU SOL is basically just an extension of RÜFÜS. It came down to basically copyright in North America, so we’re known as RÜFÜS everywhere in the world, and RÜFÜS DU SOL in North America.

Jon George: Basically, once we could release the album internationally, we couldn’t go ahead with the signing of the record in North America until we agreed to a changed name. So we tried to do a subtle change, there was a bit of back and forth between us and the lawyers at Columbia who we signed with. We finally came to an agreement with RÜFÜS DU SOL.

What is the RÜFÜS DU SOL philosophy?

Tyrone Lindqvist: Live a pretty great life.

Jon George: Chill.

Tyrone Lindqvist: Have a great time. Do what you love to do.

Jon George: That’s it! I like that.

James Hunt: I agree.

Jon George: Coasting by. Sun. Water.

James Hunt: Travel.

Jon George: Friends. That’s our philosophy.

James Hunt: Bass.

Jon George: And music!

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What do you want to achieve with RÜFÜS DU SOL?

Tyrone Lindqvist: Our goal has always been, when doing music, to make any form of money or if a living, doing this, that would be incredible. When we got to a position of just being able to pay ourselves a very small wage, at the start of last year, that was a dream come true, and we’re just trying to maintain that really.

Now, having travelled the world a little more, and seeing a little bit more of what’s possible and had a taste for everything, it’s the same goal, if we can keep doing this for as long as we can, and make an okay living out of it, that’s living the dream!

Jon George: Feels good to live the dream!

How do you feel about your success to date? Are you even aware that you are crushing it, or are you just in the thick of doing it, that you just play the hits and think nothing of it?

James Hunt: It’s funny, it’s completely on perspective. You can take yourself to a different perspective in a second, if you want to. Definitely when you are playing shows, like show after show after show it can be easy to forget where you are at or where you’ve come from. Then it’s also easy to go, “Hey, we were just playing shows to like twenty or fifty people when we started out in Australia in small pubs, bars, and then now, playing shows in LA and San Francisco like tonight.”

Jon George: I think most of the time your state of mind is you are not very aware. Anytime you play to a lot of people, you have good a festival slot, you hear your song on the radio in another country, and you’re in another country getting paid to do this sort of stuff, every time you remember some of that stuff or witness it, it’s just like an unbelievable feeling, we pinch ourselves to know it’s happening. I think the rest of the time you’re just coasting along on a whim.

Tyrone Lindqvist: You have to remind yourself, those moments remind you, and sometimes you can be on stage and it just hits you in the middle of a set, and you’re like, “Whoa…” and you come to and you really realize what’s going. Like I was saying, it’s really hard to know because you’re always striving to push yourself and push the band as far as you can as well. You have goals that you want to meet that might be pretty big goals and you don’t meet some goals.

Jon George: Keep your eyes on the prize.

Tyrone Lindqvist: Yeah, it’s hard to see what you’ve achieved when you’ve achieved so much, to acknowledge that and just to enjoy it.

Can you share a little bit of insight on your approach to remixes?

Jon George: Generally, with a remix, we’ll have to agree that there is something we really like in the original, something that we want to take a particular sound or idea from the song and turn it on its head and give it our own interpretation. In the past it could be someone asking, can you remix this for me, or us chasing down someone saying, can we remix this. From there, we really just start with one of the parts, I’d say, of the song, and just writing around it, establishing a new feeling, particularly compared to the original, and go from there.

James Hunt: It’s also fun with a remix that you can step stylistically, a bit away from the aesthetic of the originals.

Jon George: Our remixes are usually more dance floor oriented, whereas our album stuff is more band.

Tyrone Lindqvist: You’ve got freedom to explore more sounds that you might not be necessarily a RÜFÜS DU SOL sound. You can try some things that you might not put on an album because it’s not an album track. You’re influenced by certain artists that you’re hearing in clubs or DJs playing certain songs and you take influence from that, and you have a bit more freedom to toy with it and play with that. Sometimes that’s when we learn a hell of a lot when we’re going into new territory, and that’s often the case from remixes to production.

What moved you to do you great recent remix of that mysterious Zhu character?

Jon George: Well, we got the offer, and James started pursuing it first. Then we had it go from there.

James Hunt: We had some back and forth, like we usually do. Some feedback off each other. That one was done pretty quickly. Sometimes it works, and it seemed to work for us.

Jon George: We’re all massive fans of Zhu, I loved that EP when I first heard it. So we were pretty stoked to get our hands on parts, particularly of that song. James established a new feeling straight away, and we just built on that.

Were you at his first show in Australia?

Jon George: No, we were overseas.

So it’s not you!

Jon George: Haha!

That was my one suspicion!

James Hunt: Process of elimination. It could be you! We’re being interviewed by Zhu right now.

Who or what inspires you?

Tyrone Lindqvist: Other artists, like artists from now, from eighties, nineties, it doesn’t really matter. Anyone that we used to listen to, anyone that we listen to now that are pushing boundaries or territory that we are really excited by, or things that we haven’t heard before. Those things are exciting, but also live shows, when we go see live acts. That is really exciting and inspiring. Last year we went and saw FOALS, at a theatre in Australia.

Jon George: We saw Moderat, at Berlin recently.

Tyrone Lindqvist: Yeah, seeing shows like that, seeing the lighting designs that go with shows like that, the production value, and the performances from the guys on stage. Just the care that they give the audience, the sound, the lights and the show, you can tell everyone on the stage gives a shit about what they are doing, and that’s really inspiring to see and that eggs us on to push all avenues, whether it’s film clips, songwriting, production, lyrics, performance on stage and how to execute it.

Jon George: Sometimes even seeing shitty acts, or performances that you were expecting to be good, really fell short in areas, can really inspire you to lift your game.

Any final thoughts?

Tyrone Lindqvist: If you didn’t know, we recorded most of Atlas in an emptied out watertank. It was the only space we could find that was affordable for us. We emptied it out, cleared the floor, put in carpet and soundproofed it as well as we could for a concrete water tank, and we spent about eight months in there, and as much as it sounds like it could have been a grueling process because we were in a tank, you walk outside and you’d be on almost like a cliff face into the ocean, and it was a really nice spot. So that probably influenced the sound of it somewhat.

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