Everybody is talking about RüFüS…
RüFüS is one of those names that are on everybody’s lips at the moment. The boys behind this talented moniker are the trio James Hunt, Jon George and Tyrone Lindqvist, who are a local contingent hailing from Sydney. To say they’ve had a huge year would actually be an understatement. With the release of their debut album ‘Atlas’ to consistent critical acclaim, it has kicked off quite a few things. From reaching number one on the ARIA Charts, embarking on a continuously expanding national tour and being announced on various festival bills including Listen Out, Falls, Southbound and Big Day Out. James managed to take some time out of his hectic schedule to have a chat with us
The year you’ve had so far has been huge, performing in front of members of LCD Soundsystem and selling out shows continuously, and now the year ahead is shaping up to be even bigger with multiple festival bills. How does this all feel? Is it surreal?
Yeah surreal is definitely an appropriate word for what's been happening lately. I guess the response to the album was far more positive than we ever imagined. Like the ARIA Chart positioning, even just moments where driving through traffic and someone next to you is playing a song from the album (laughs), it's generally pretty surreal and just pretty cool though. I guess we've been working hard for a long time on the album so it's really nice for this recognition to happen.
Two stand out tracks for me off Atlas are ‘Sarah’ and ‘Modest Life’ - tell us a bit about these tracks and how they came about
Well 'Modest Life' is actually a track we wrote from the album that’s from the first few days of writing demos back in July last year. It was kind of referencing a nineties house kind of groove, and a bit more summery and washy vocally.
With 'Sarah' that was actually one of the last tracks we wrote, we were going through several stages with some of the cuts from the demo, and if they weren’t fitting with the record we were completely stripping them bare and reshaping them. 'Sarah' was the product of two or three sessions, shaping this original track that was completely different. It was almost like an electro Presets-y kind of track, but turned into this mellow keyboard-driven tune that 'Sarah' ended up being.
You guys often talk about how you’re a DIY band and it’s great to see the level of success you’re now getting. Do you have any tips for current up and coming bands?
I guess it's a good point of knowledge to know that these days there's a lot of stuff that you can do yourself, particularly with recording and mixing. It’s not necessary to outsource mixing, although it can help for people who haven’t had much experience in it. It's just a fact that you can get the work done yourself, even with film clips. We were doing in-house film clips and we built our own studio, and that saved a lot of money. It was just a kind of cool feeling to know we had done everything ourselves, in that respect.
You've spoken before about you emphasise on the music rather than the marketing, is this focus something that you would recommend?
I don’t know if recommendation is the right word (laughs), but it's definitely worked for us. Organically, we were doing our own marketing online in the early stages, and the way it works is that you build up a team and get more people on board, and eventually that leads to a lot bigger things. We joined the Sweat It Out team this year and that’s really helped with the marketing side of things. All the publishing and PR they've been working with us. But musically we've definitely just been sticking to this DIY approach and focusing on the music.
Who would you say some of your biggest influences have been?
Definitely some big names of artist that we love and often reference are Trentemøller, he's a huge one. Royskopp, we’re a big fan of their production. We've been referencing some more Dirty Bird artists lately like Claude VonStroke and Justin Martin. Even artists like Disclosure we find inspiring just because the schmickness of their production, same with AlunaGeorge. The glossy kind of sheen that they strive we sort of take inspiration from that I guess.
You’ve described the Atlas release as bitter sweet due to Ajax not being here to see it all happen, what was it like getting the opportunity to work with him?
It was really amazing, we were all huge fans of him. Back 5 years ago we used to go his sets at nightclubs like 77, and when Bang Gang played. It’s pretty surreal and amazing to be in contact even just with this guy, who's a legend. But yea it’s really bitter-sweet, and very tragic, the timing and everything. We were really excited to keep working with him for a long period of time. He was such an inspiration, before his unfortunate passing away, so yea it definitely was tinged with a bit of tragedy. But it was an amazing experience.
You’re about to embark your ‘Atlas’ National tour, which includes some all-ages shows. How do you find these crowds and do you find that you get a better response than a regular show?
Well we actually have only ever played one all-ages show like three years ago, and we've only been doing 18 plus shows since so it is hard to say. I feel like it is going to be a different vibe. I feel like our demographic caters for younger and more teenage fans, as well as younger twenties and older, so I’m more just excited to see how that pans out and what the feeling is like at the shows, because I can’t really say for sure.
Craziest tour tale?
Yea I guess a pretty crazy story is back when we touring in the early 2012, we ended up with one of the last shows being at the Sydney Big Day Out in the Boiler Room. We were opening the stage so we had to start playing at 11, and the security hadn’t opened the gates by then. Our stage manager was like you've got to start playing, so we started playing our first track to an empty room with just our manager and one of our mates. Then literally like thirty second later the gates opened, and it had been raining outside, so all these wet screaming teenagers come running down in a heard to the front. We're just laughing to ourselves at this stage, like holy fuck, what the hell is going on! Yeah that was one of the craziest shows.
A few months ago you got the opportunity to play in Moscow, tell us a bit about that experience.
Yea it was pretty funny and pretty crazy I guess. We just were contacted by this Russian promoter who was organizing the festival, he contacted our booking agent, and he often gets these attempts from agents based overseas and then it falls through. But this guy kept calling up and actually went through with it, and we ended up going over there a few weeks later and playing this festival with Azealia Banks and Frank Ocean. In that whole week there was only the forty minute set of the festival, other than that we were just exploring Moscow, which is certainly a crazy and amazing place (laughs).
Favourite place to play?
I guess Oxford Art Factory, that's a really good, solid venue to play in. I think you always get a good vibe going on in there and a good crowd, there are still so many places we haven’t played that were excited too. We're playing at The Hi-Fi next week, so were pretty excited to see how that pans out, coz we've seen some amazing gigs there.
There is this continuous debate now of whether music streaming such as Spotify are helping or hindering independent artists in the music industry. What are your thoughts on it?
Well ultimately I think it’s doing you a favour, as it providing a service where people are having easier access to the music you make and providing that exposure. On a financial level, I'm not exactly sure where I stand, because each provider of the service has completely different rates for artists. But ultimately I feel like it is doing you a favour as an artist and providing that opportunity for exposure, whereas otherwise people would be straight up pirating your music, at least you’re getting some form of payment.
I see that you’re all huge fans of San Francisco producer Giraffage, who else are you currently digging?
I guess one of the labels we're currently loving is French Express, they get artists like Chris Malinchak, Isaac Tichauer and Jonas Rathman. We're into that type of production and that sort of house I guess. We also love Giraffage and have a lot of respect for Disclosure and AlunaGeorge in that sort of pop medium, and how they're reinventing that. I've also been listening to a lot of Dusky, who do some really cool deeper productions.
What’s coming up next for you guys?
Well we're currently planning frantically for this tour coming up in about two weeks. It’s spanning over one and half months, with around 25 shows I think. So it’s going to be a pretty hectic month of just touring and playing, which we’re really excited about though. We’re really keen to play a bunch of these tracks off the new album, that we haven’t had an opportunity to play yet. It will be good to hear them in front of an audience and put on a really valuable show for people. But after that it’s sort of up in the air and we're really keen to get overseas at some point, and head back to Europe or go to America to do some touring and exploring overseas.
RüFüS have currently got a sideshows planned for Sydney on their national Atlas tour. Check out the date below:
Friday, October 18
The Hi-Fi Sydney
- James Sherley