Hermitude Talk The Dangers Of Trap And Groovin The Moo 2015

Incredibly, Sydney’s Hermitude has been extant for over a decade. DJ/producer Angus “El Gusto” Stuart and keyboardist Luke “Dubs” Dubber, both Blue Mountains kids, premiered on The Herd’s indie Elefant Traks back in 2002 with a vinyl EP.

While initially classified as “hip hop”, Hermitude foreshadowed today’s amalgamation of experimental urban and electronic beats. The duo came into their own with 2012’s HyperParadise, their fourth album, taking in the epic Speak Of The Devil. Hermitude would be the first electronic act to win the AMP (Australian Music Prize) over favourites Tame Impala and Flume, that leader of the new ‘Australian sound’ who’d remixed HyperParadise’s mega title-track.

They’ve since courted an international fanbase, especially Stateside. The pair remixed ODESZA’s nu-step Say My Name – a coup. Hermitude struck a deal with Nettwerk Records, the North American powerhouse that broke Coldplay (!), ahead of their latest album, Dark Night Sweet Light. The single Through The Roof (featuring Young Tapz) has already impacted bigtime.

Hermitude will hit Groovin The Moo, then embark on June’s national headlining tour. Later this year they’ll play Lollapalooza. We caught up with Dubs himself.

Listen: Hermitude – HyperParadise (Flume Remix)

Music Feeds: I understand you’re in the studio. I was quite curious about that, when you’ve got a new album. What could you possibly be doing?

Luke Dubber: That’s right (laughs) – why aren’t we at the beach? Well, we’re actually rehearsing for the upcoming shows. Now that we’ve got a new record out, we have to figure out how the hell we’re gonna play it live. Unfortunately, we don’t get to go and work on our suntans, post-records.

We come back into the dark depths of the studio where there’s no natural light and lock ourselves in the dark yet again to figure out how it is we manage to make all the sounds on stage. So we’re in here with all our gear set up and we listen to the songs and figure out what each of us is gonna do and kinda run it over and over again.

MF: You guys won the AMP for HyperParadise, breaking down some barriers – because it was always seen as a bit ‘rockist’. Besides the cash, what did that give you?

LD: Yeah, I guess it was great for the ego, for starters. But, besides that, it definitely opened up a lot of doors, some festival doors that maybe hadn’t opened previously, we started getting calls from them.

It was a great thing to have on the résumé, internationally as well, ’cause it’s kind of well known here, but not massively known, and even lesser still overseas, so when people see that on the bio they’re curious as to what that is. That helps sweeten the deal when you’re doing some overseas touring.

Watch: Hermitude – Though The Roof

MF: You’ve had a serpentine career. You started being tagged as an electronic, over hip hop, group only midway. How does this record stand in relation to what you’ve done in the past?

LD: It’s funny ’cause we’ve always seen ourselves as electronic, with a hip hop backbone, of course. It’s probably what started the love of the music that we do. But, yeah, the music that we were listening to when we first started out was the electronic instrumental hip hop of the time, around the early 2000s, the whole kind of trip hop thing was still going. So now we’ve gone in so many different directions over time and tried different sounds and come up with different ideas of what we want each of our records to be.

With this one, we didn’t really come into it with a real plan because HyperParadise took us by surprise when it did so well. We pretty much just got swept up in, not only the success of the album, but also in the success of the genre itself, like the whole kind of electronic beats EDM thing, whatever you wanna call it, and trap and all those little offcuts just became so massive shortly after that.

We took a little bit of time off I think after we won the AMP and we went away and stuff and [then] came back and wrote the first single, Through The Roof. That was a cool song to write, ’cause it felt like a nice bridge between where we finished with HyperParadise and where we’re heading to with Dark Night Sweet Light.

After we did that, we started more honing into the Dark Night Sweet Light side of Through The Roof. After a little while – like it didn’t really happen straight away, there was still a fair bit of experimenting going on – we discovered this sound that was a little bit influenced by that modern R&B-slash-trap stuff that’s been happening for a little while that’s also quite hip hop-influenced and quite minimal.

We found a nice little home within that kind of idea so, once we’d figured that out, the album took shape not quickly, but it was just a lot easier to move forward, instead of messing around with a whole bunch of different sounds and ideas. It gives you a direction, I guess. Once we found that, we just smashed it out. Now here we are at the other end, trying to figure out how to play it live! So it’s been quite a ride, that’s for sure.

MF: You mentioned trap. To what extent are you influenced by broader trends, because you still have your own vibe?

LD: Yeah, we do have our own vibe, I think. We try to retain that thing. We love picking bits out of our favourite genres and dropping them into what we do, but not fully going there, like not trying to really replicate a sound or anything. We basically bring our own flavour to the genre.

I mean, trap was really an extension of that kinda Southern hip hop thing that had been going on for years anyway, but then it just became so popular and also lent itself to instrumental music, which pricked our ears up. It became a really cool thing that we could relate to because it was like the new experimental kind of hip hoppy thing that was going on.

So trap is definitely something that we’re heavily influenced by. But there’s also an element of trap that we really don’t like, which is just the massive build-ups and drops. It’s become a bit formulaic and kind of played out a bit these days. We were very cautious not to write something that was overly trappy for the record, just because it’s been around for a few years now and it’s become so massive that it’s gotten tainted a bit.

MF: Brostepped!

LD: Yeah, brostepped, exactly!

Listen: Hermitude – The Buzz

MF: You played the New Orleans festival BUKU recently, as well as SXSW showcases. How was that US jaunt? You’ve got so much happening on the international front now with the Nettwerk deal and so on.

LD: Yeah, it was amazing, it was really cool. We’d gone over in October with RÜFÜS and supported them on their last tour, which was fantastic. Then going over by ourselves this time felt like the next step for us. We had some great shows.

We played a whole bunch of headline shows and we played some gigs in bigger rooms that were established club nights in New York and LA. We got to play some beautiful theatres like the Webster Hall in New York and Avalon, which used to be called The Palace, where Jerry Lewis used to have a residency for 30 years or something crazy like that. There’s photos of the Rat Pack all over the walls, which was awesome. But it was an incredible experience.

The New Orleans festival in particular was awesome ’cause we played on a small stage, but the stage was on a boat on the Mississippi. So they docked a paddle steamer next to the festival and we played on there. So that was really cool! It’s been kinda bubbling up over the last 18 months – or actually probably longer, since the HyperParadise, Flume remix, came out. I think that started pricking everybody’s ears up at least to our name.

So now when we go over, we have a bit of a following. It’s just something that we’re building up over this year especially. We’re going over two more times at this stage to do some festivals. It’s really exciting. The Nettwerk deal came through and it just feels like a great set-up for this next chapter of Hermitude world domination.

MF: So many acts have a huge buzz on the first release and then everybody looks to the next hyped thing. But you’ve had more incremental and sustained success. How do you feel about being late bloomers? Are you amused, even?

LD: I actually personally have loved that evolution ’cause you hear so many stories of people who blow up really early and then kinda fall by the wayside. A drummer friend of mine I used to play with in Sydney years ago before Hermitude, his punk band got signed to [the Beastie Boys’ label] Grand Royal when he was in high school. They did a tour with the Beastie Boys when they were 15 and went straight to the top… But it just fell over. Then, yeah, 18-years-old and he’s done all this amazing stuff, but you’re back to square one.

I am amused as well. Sometimes you’ve just got to sit back and laugh and go, “Wow, it’s so crazy that we’re 10 years deep and this is happening now”. We’ve always just bubbled up slowly in the background. I feel like the first two albums were a real incremental build and then the third album we plateaued and then, when HyperParadise came out, it just exploded.

So I have no regrets at all. We’ve had so many random experiences. We’ve played some of the shittest gigs you ever could think of and stayed in some of the most horrible places and had all our shit stolen overseas. There’s been numerous stories of multiple fails. But then, in retrospect, they make such great stories and the experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. So, yeah, definitely pleased to be where we’re at, at this point in our career.

Watch: Hermitude – Dark Night Sweet Light Album & Tour Announce

MF: How much of the album will you perform in the upcoming shows?

LD: Do you mean for Groovin The Moo or for our headline tour?

MF: Well, I guess Groovin The Moo will be like an abridged version, and preview, of the headlining shows?

LD: Yeah, that’s pretty much right. We’re definitely playing some new tunes for Groovin The Moo, ’cause I think people are pretty keen. The first single Through The Roof has been going really well on the radio, and the second single’s [The Buzz, featuring Mataya and Young Tapz] just been added to triple j, so hopefully people can wrap their ears around that.

So we’re going to be playing those tunes and a bunch of other new ones for the Groovin The Moo tour. But, for the headline tour, the focus will be on Dark Night Sweet Light and we’ll be playing most, if not all, of the tracks on the record.

Obviously, when you do your headline show you’ve got more time to play, and more scope to make it a little bit more dynamic, so we’re gonna have some really nice moments in that set, some great instrumental moments among the more high-energy stuff that we do and just take people on a bit of a journey, but also not neglect the old songs off HyperParadise and remixes that we’ve done, ’cause there’s some really great tunes there as well that we wanna fit in along with the new album.

Hermitude’s headline tour kicks off in June — details below. They’re appearing at Groovin The Moo festival for the next three weekends.

Photos: triple j’s Beat The Drum – Sydney, The Domain 16/01/15 / Photos: Ashley Mar

Hermitude Dark Night Sweet Light Australian Tour

With Basenji and Jayteehazard

Friday, 12th June 2015

Metropolis, Fremantle

Tickets: Hermitude

Thursday, 18th June 2015

HQ, Adelaide

Tickets: Hermitude

Friday, 19th June 2015

170 Russell, Melbourne

Tickets: Hermitude

Friday, 26th June 2015

Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Tickets: Hermitude

Saturday, 27th June 2015

The Met, Brisbane

Tickets: Hermitude

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