RÜFÜS DU SOL Interview - Sucked Into The Vortex
Over the last few years, RÜFÜS DU SOL emerged as a crowd favourite in the Australian electronic music scene. Following the release of their third album Solace and the launch of their international tour, we had a chat with James Hunt from the Sydney-based trio about what went into the album and their upcoming tour.
Futuremag Music: Hey James, how’s life in the US at the moment?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: Yeah it’s good! We’re just on the road at the moment. I’m currently in Denver, Colorado and it’s snowing, which is pretty exciting. We don’t see snow much in Australia. We’ve just done the first two and half weeks of our tour after putting Solace out.
Futuremag Music: Jumping straight into it, with Solace as your third album, how has your sound and approach to music changed over the last few years?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: With Solace we were able to take more of mature approach with the production and song writing. Just from having written two albums we felt like we were much more capable producers. After putting Bloom out and touring that for two years, we were so hungry to get back into the studio. We had so many ideas and a million notes in our iPhones. As soon as we got back into it, we were just generating a lot of ideas. We wrote the most amount of songs we ever had for a record.
We moved over to LA to record this one. In the process of doing that we went over and set up a studio for ourselves. We had all of these amazing synthesisers and toys, and we were working crazy hours. It pretty quickly became an unhealthy process. We were working till 6am every day and it started to become really exhausting. We felt like we were getting sucked into the vortex of it. We tried to channel that darkness rather than shy away from it. That was definitely a newer approach for us, trying to embrace the light and the dark so we have the full spectrum of emotion.
Futuremag Music: This maturity is certainly evident in Solace and it delves into some deeper themes and messages. Can you talk about how these developed during the writing process and what inspired this?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: There’s a few different themes that kept coming up in terms of feeling submerged in something. That’s where the theme for ‘Underwater’ came out of. It came out of a lyrical jam and the repeated triplet lyric, “I’m stuck underwater.” We realised that it was on point for where we were at, because it felt like we were stuck underwater and lost in this process. We were just working day and night, and not giving our bodies any rest. We were neglecting our personal lives to work on music.
There’re also some nostalgic points, and points of hope. The whole record feels like a snapshot, with each track portraying an insight to a different point during the writing process. When I listen back now, it’s like a portal back to that point in time and whatever we were going through.
Futuremag Music: Can you tell me about ‘Treat You Better’ and what inspired that one?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: That one was more of a nostalgic and bittersweet ode. At the time that wasn't the calculated theme, but it became apparent quite quickly that it was an anthem for ourselves towards our friends, family and partners. We were almost neglecting that part of our lives. We were focusing on making music and there was no sense of balance. It was a promise to treat people better, and there’s a sense of hope in that.
Futuremag Music: You're currently touring internationally, with shows in the US at the moment and more planned for the UK and Europe later this year. What has that experience been like?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: It’s been really cool! It’s been interesting. We started out just touring around Australia for the first four or five years. Since Bloom came out, we’ve been able to see the world more. It’s been interesting to see how different crowds react. We’ve had some cool growth in the US which has been amazing to see. There’s a really cool fan culture here. Definitely really excited to come home and play again, I think I just miss Australia because I’ve been away for about two years.
Futuremag Music: How will these Australian shows compare to the rest of your international tour?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: I honestly think that the home crowd is always the best. There’s a sense of triumph when you play a show in your hometown or in Australia. These are the people who were listening to us before anyone else in the world and that’s why it feels really special.
Futuremag Music: What can fans expect from these live shows?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: We’ve spent four weeks in pre-production which is the longest amount of time we’ve ever spent working on a live show. We’ve been working on a lighting set up and on the journey of the set. We've pushed ourselves so that each night, the set won’t ever be the same. This allows for some unpredictability - some jams, covering some songs and flipping things around. That was our whole intention this time, so it keeps us on our toes a bit more.
Futuremag Music: Moving on, you’ve used some interesting desert visuals in the album art and in music video for ‘No Place’. Can you tell me about the inspiration for this?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: We were trying to figure out the visual aesthetic for the record at the start of this year. We stumbled upon an artist through her Instagram. Her name’s Le Fawnhawk. She has a specific, surrealist style that has the desert landscapes and weird mysterious black cloaked figures. It’s kind of psychedelic and minimal. We thought that was really tasteful and we worked with her for all the single art and album art. She also collaborated on the music video with Katzki who’s directed pretty much all of our music videos.
Futuremag Music: Do you find that these visuals feed into some of the themes and messages in the album?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: Even before we had delved into working with this artist, it started to become more locked into the themes of isolation and being out in this abyss. That’s emotionally what some of the record is about, so it tied in in a way we didn't predict.
Futuremag Music: Would you say that this is some of the inspiration that goes into ‘Lost in My Mind’?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: Yeah definitely, I had that in my head while I was answering that. We wrote ‘Lost in My Mind’ out in Joshua Tree. We went to Joshua Tree with the intention of just writing lyrics for a bunch of the other tracks. We took a synthesiser and recording interfaces and we quickly got side-tracked from writing lyrics and started jamming on this idea. Within five hours we had the entire lyrical journey and structure locked in. We had this idea of a character who was lost in the desert and wandering, but he was okay with that. He was content with being by himself in this weird place.
Futuremag Music: And do you have any further plans for after you finish touring?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: I can’t image stopping making music. It’s kind of funny saying that after our last album came out three weeks ago. With this record we wrote so many ideas. I’d say there’s about 15 strong ideas that we didn't put on the record. There’s one song that we tried to put on Bloom actually that we’ve never been able to figure out for the last two records, so maybe that will be our next one.
Futuremag Music: A bit of a funny one to wrap it up, if RÜFÜS DU SOL was a cocktail, what would be in it to best describe yourself and your music?
RÜFÜS DU SOL: That’s a really good question! I reckon a spicy margarita because it’s a little bit spicy and it’s also got a bit of sweetness.