When RÜFÜS DU SOL burst onto the Australian music scene in 2013 with their debut album “Atlas,” it peaked at No. 1 in the land Down Under.
Flash forward to 2019, and the electronic trio — made up of Australia natives Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt — is currently on a world tour, packing massive crowds at festivals like Coachella.
Their latest album “Solace,” released a little over a year ago, received international acclaim. Lindqvist describes their musical approach as “a vulnerable, relaxed tone that isn't pushed too much.”
But fans of RÜFÜS DU SOL’s psychedelic sound noticed the songs on “Solace” were darker than previous albums.
“That wasn't really like a thing that we set out to do when we started writing the record,” Hunt says.
A lot of the lyrics came from writing in a studio that was designed by their friend — a shaman. It was attached to the house they were living in Venice, California. But being transported into “beautiful, escapist wonderland,” as they called their studio, had its pitfalls.
“I think the ability to keep going without limits definitely, at times, we find ourselves in some darker spots,” Hunt says. “It was a little bit unhealthy at times, but also one of the best, fun times we've had writing. So I think the spectrum of those emotions brought out some of that darkness and we allowed that and let it breathe.”
But escapism remains as a key part of their music-making process.
“We love being able to create our own little fantasy world the same way an author would be writing a novel or something,” George says. “You can just dive back into it and forget about everything or at least, you know, embrace some of those feelings and move forward.”
On emotion in their music
Tyrone Lindqvist: “Not really sure how to put it, but it feels probably similar to like an actor onscreen not giving a lot, just getting to see the actor on the screen, getting to see their face not do a whole lot of things. The audience gets to interpret a certain amount of emotion from them. I feel like it's similar in the way that I sing, like it isn't too on the nose, and I think it allows the listener to just interpret a little bit of what the song is meaning.”
James Hunt: “I think having written the first two records, having a little bit more experience under our belt as producers and songwriters, initially maybe we had a better ability to capture certain moods but also the environment we were writing in now.”
On their LA music studio — and having their shaman friend create the space
Hunt: “The infamous shaman. We did have a friend of ours who came in and imbued the studio with his creative ... kind of like one corner would be the underwater corner, so there was seashells in there. There was a sort of outer space part where he put fairy lights up. And initially it was like, ‘Oh, this is pretty funny,’ but it actually did transport the space into a little bit more of this escapist realm where we would ... walk in and instantly be transported. We were doing that from night to night. We were allowed to transport ourselves and right until the early morning.”
On the process behind writing their song “Eyes”
Lindqvist: “That trip to Joshua Tree was like lyric-writing trip. And we went and we had like three days. We wrote a song, we wrote ‘Lost In My Mind’ in like a day. And we wrote all the lyrics of ‘Eyes’ there. It was such a magical place to do it. It’s like, there's no people, no cars, you’re just kind of in the middle of nowhere, under the stars. It made writing lyrics fun and very easy for us.”
On their song “Innerbloom,” which is 9 minutes and 38 seconds long
Hunt: “Well, I think one of the beautiful things about the writing process is that every now and then we find ourselves with a song that just kind of presents itself and unfolds before you. With ‘Inner Bloom,’ that was one that just happened so sequentially and naturally and we didn't overthink anything or reimagine anything. Even in terms of some of the vocal takes, we tried to rerecord or sort of affect them, but we ended up using these initial takes that had a little bit of a raw emotion. And so that was just a really beautiful experience for us.”
On their inspiration for “Innerbloom”
Lindqvist: “I guess the Pachanga Boys. We like referencing other artists and artists that have influenced us and the Pachanga Boys put out a song called ‘Time’ a few years ago. And they use that sort of trick as well where it sort of stops at a certain moment, and they hold on a cord and you think that it's over. And then it kind of ramps back up and you get this reprise. It's kind of like a bonus track or something, but it's still the same song. And that feeling was something we knew we wanted to explore as soon as we'd made the foundation of this song.”
On making a song that long
Lindqvist: We didn't have to convince anyone really. I mean, we knew we loved the song. We really connected with it. We knew we wanted to close the album with it.
Jon George: “But I think also we do get pressure sometimes to, you know, make a track record 30 seconds shorter or something for radio. But this track in particular, everyone was very quiet about the time. It felt like, yup, that's it. That’s the one.”
On whether the news influences the music they make
George: “Well, I don't think we speak about politics or news too often. We've since seen some strange opinions or heard some strange opinions from different people across America. And it doesn't really influence the music, but our moods, I've certainly been through the same waves of emotion that most people would be experiencing here.”
On who they’d want to eat a Zambrero (Australia’s version of Chipotle) burrito with
Lindqvist: “Maybe John Lennon.”
George: “I think maybe Thom Yorke.”
Hunt: “Well, I was gonna say Thom Yorke, but I guess now I'm going to say maybe Nicolas Jaar. He's one of our favorite electronic producers, and I think it'll be a really good time.”
This segment aired on June 5, 2019.