On a Friday night in New York in late September, two acts are but to take the stage on day one in every of Governors Ball Music Competition: teen sensation and headliner Billie Eilish, and Rufus Du Sol , “Sydney’s most interesting three-piece” based on BBC1 Radio host Pete Tong. The indie-dance band was second solely to Eilish on at present’s invoice and the gang that’s assembled earlier than their stage is testomony to their enormous following within the nation they’ve known as residence for the previous three years. Some barely dressed followers appear oblivious to the evening chill as they skip in the direction of the stage, the primary chords from Rufus’ Grammy-nominated 2018 monitor Underwater pealing into the evening air.
Atop three tall white blocks and in entrance of giant monochromatic projections of themselves, singer Tyrone Lindqvist, keys/synths participant Jon George and drummer James Hunt, all clad in black, look extra like rock stars than a dance music act. Their 75-minute set performs like one lengthy steady combine, loaded with their best-loved tracks plus a couple of from their imminent fourth album, Give up.
The band solely launched its newest single, the darkish, swaggering On My Knees, this similar day, however you wouldn’t comprehend it from the viewers’s response to the brand new tunes. Rufus followers – who’ve collectively streamed their music practically a billion instances – are passionate, loyal and enraptured to see the trio taking part in dwell for the primary time in 18 months.
Beloved in Australia, they’re a good greater deal within the US, the place their two Grammy nods in 2020 – for finest dance recording and finest dance/digital album (2018’s Solace) – lent status to their booming reputation. “I used to be shocked they didn’t win the Grammys,” says Jeff Sosnow, who signed Rufus to Warner Data within the US in 2017. “They’re a singular band who’re deeply dedicated to their artwork and its pursuit for greatness.”
The Governors Ball marks the band’s third dwell look because the pandemic hit in March 2020, forcing the band to cancel the remaining half of their US and Canadian tour. “It was fairly stunning and upsetting that day we needed to ship residence all our crew. Half of them had been from Australia and needed to go residence earlier than they obtained locked down over right here,” recollects Hunt.
The band members, all of their early 30s, spoke with Spectrum in New York a day forward of the pageant. Sitting on a sofa sipping smoothies, they’re dressed head-to-toe in black and look pictures shoot-ready. Flying within the day earlier than from their adopted residence of Los Angeles that they had managed a spot of procuring. George fashions one in every of his purchases: a glossy Prada jacket.
The band’s private wealth has expanded considerably together with their world viewers and worldview within the 11 years since they shaped in Sydney. Lindqvist, who grew up within the opal mining city of Lightning Ridge, and George’s youthful brother, Alex (now the band’s inventive director), had been finest pals who attended the Sydney boarding college, St Ignatius’ School Riverview.
The elder George, who had studied audio engineering, hit up Lindqvist for a jam within the studio the place they found a shared love of digital artists reminiscent of Booka Shade and The Chemical Brothers. Hunt, who was within the 12 months beneath Lindqvist at college , was recruited to finish the band. In 2011, they launched their debut EP, the self-titled Rufus. The Du Sol trailer was added to their title within the US in 2014 because it clashed with an current trademark for the title Rufus – most probably Chaka Khan’s funk band. They began utilizing the title Rufus Du Sol worldwide in 2018.
In contrast to some native acts reminiscent of Courtney Barnett and Sia, who needed to be embraced abroad earlier than Australia began taking critical discover, Rufus rapidly gained a robust following at residence, then wooed the remainder of the world. Their debut album, Atlas, flew to the highest of the ARIA charts in 2013, as did the 2015 follow-up, Bloom, recorded whereas they had been dwelling in Berlin.
The Australian label Sweat It Out signed the band in 2013 and launched their first two albums. The label’s artists and repertoire (A&R) supervisor Matthew Handles says “there was a top quality about every thing they did that was particular. All the pieces felt so pure however on the similar time, so thought of.” Warner US’s Sosnow was equally enamoured when he signed them. “The band was so compelling each dwell and of their writing – the melodies and composition instructed actual producers and writers with even greater issues forward,” he says. “A real profession artist is what they felt wish to me.”
‘There was a top quality about every thing they did that was particular. All the pieces felt so pure however on the similar time, so thought of.’
Matthew Handles, A and R supervisor, on signing the band.
The Warner deal adopted the success of Bloom, whose nine-minute opus Innerbloom has turn into one thing of an underground traditional, rating No.5 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 tracks of the last decade. “[Rufus] had gone from taking part in smaller venues beneath 500 capability to promoting out three Wilterns (a 2000-capacity LA venue) in main markets,” says Sosnow. “It was a second the place you might see it was simply blossoming on a bigger scale.” After the essential success of Solace, expectations are excessive for Give up, the product of a 12 months of pressured pause after seven years of strong touring.
Devastating impacts apart, the pandemic bore a whole lot of inventive fruit for the band, who returned to the fabled Joshua Tree studio within the California desert the place Solace was partially recorded. (Fortuitously for locked-down followers, on March 5, 2020, the band additionally dropped Reside at Joshua Tree, a 45-minute live performance movie shot within the desert with no viewers. It has racked up over 13 million YouTube views up to now). Their deliberate two-week writing stint for Give up stretched out to 2 months because the band reconnected with nature, one another and themselves.
“It was actually wholesome for us to attempt to keep in mind why we had been doing what we’re doing, why we love taking part in music,” says Hunt, most likely essentially the most softly spoken of the three refreshingly un-Alpha males. The method was very completely different to creating Solace, the majority of which was written and recorded in a home Rufus shared with their companions and managers on Rose Avenue (additionally the title of Rufus’ personal report label) in Los Angeles’ Venice Seaside. The band’s friendships, relationships and well being suffered as they poured themselves into the music.
“That was a fairly chaotic time, we had been writing until 6am most nights, there was very a lot a scarcity of construction and even an avoidance of construction,” says Hunt. “We made some magic, however this time we determined to deal with ourselves to some self-care and a few routine.” The phrase “self-care” comes up a number of instances in our dialog because the band members categorical their emotions with the identical form of startling vulnerability that has made their music resonate with so many. (Crying at Rufus exhibits is widespread amongst followers of all genders, and tons of of YouTube feedback reveal how their emotive, sweeping electronica has helped listeners by depressions, breakups and deaths). Dwelling in wellness-obsessed Los Angeles seems to have had an affect on the trio, who nod and murmur at one another encouragingly when sharing sentimental recollections or observations of self-growth.
Crying at Rufus exhibits is widespread and YouTube feedback reveal how their music has helped listeners by depressions, breakups and deaths.
In Joshua Tree, Solace’s late nights had been traded for early mornings, kicked off with group meditation adopted by a exercise, sauna session, ice tub and smoothie. “Generally we’d do the meditation out on this rock, and also you’d hear these desert sounds and simply hook up with nature and join along with your physique once more,” says Hunt. “After which possibly we’d discuss – if there’s something developing we’d discuss it, get it out – after which head into the studio actually rejuvenated and refreshed. It was a very cool new method for us, prioritising our well being.”
The regime paid off – Give up is perhaps Rufus’ most constant album but, crammed with their signature lengthy tracks (most are over 5 minutes), shock soulful home vocals and kids’s choir harmonies, and loads of sluggish builds and climaxes designed to blow up in a dwell setting.
’Late nights had been traded for early mornings, kicked off with group meditation adopted by a exercise, sauna session, ice tub and smoothie.”
James Hunt on recording at Joshua Tree studio
It’s additionally most likely their most baldly romantic report up to now. Lindqvist was in a unique place once they began writing Solace, depressed after the top of a rocky relationship. “Assist me out earlier than I die/ Save me now earlier than I hand over,” he sang on Underwater. Eight weeks in the past, he sang Give up’s lead monitor Subsequent to Me, to his spouse, Malorie, at their marriage ceremony (the couple have a 2-year-old son, Ziggy).
“Writing the music was fairly simple as a result of I used to be simply imagining what it will be like on the day we obtained married,” he says. Singing it on the day was more difficult. “I obtained to ‘I knew this time would arrive, I knew this time would come’ and I simply couldn’t get the phrases out, it was simply an excessive amount of and she or he gave me a pleasant heat hug,” he says. “It was so good to have the ability to simply hug her and it felt like a present, to have that fantasy of what it’d really feel wish to be there, after which be like, ‘Whoa, that is very a lot what it appears like.’”
Bodily and spiritually, it looks as if the band is in a very good place. Their first exhibits again in August had been two sold-out nights on the beautiful Pink Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado (test it out on Google pictures). Hunt names it as one in every of their largest moments up to now, particularly as they carried out their new monitor Alive for the primary time. (He was buzzing a lot after they got here off-stage that he had a six-minute ice tub, his longest but).
That’s excessive reward contemplating their CV of huge gigs over the previous eight years, together with Australia’s Falls Competition and Splendour within the Grass (additionally private favourites), Burning Man pageant, Serbia’s EXIT pageant, Lollapalooza, and mega-festival Coachella in California’s Palm Springs, the place they first performed in 2016.
“That first weekend, that felt like a turning level for the US, simply seeing all these folks flip up,” Hunt says. “Bloom had simply come out three months earlier and we had been like, ‘The place did all these folks come from?’ It was like, okay, possibly one thing’s taking place right here.” Their Coachella efficiency was so talked about, they nabbed one other slot there the subsequent 12 months (only a few artists are booked on the pageant two years working) and once more in 2019. Their dwell present is what turns listeners into lifetime followers, based on Handles. “Even when you didn’t know one Rufus music initially, by the top you left a fan,” he says. “Should you had been already in love with the music, you left an excellent fan.”
In April, months earlier than the brand new album was introduced, Rufus bought out two exhibits and 50,000 tickets in minutes and added a 3rd live performance at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium in November in what will likely be their largest exhibits but. “The response was simply insane, particularly as a result of we hadn’t put any new music out,” says Hunt. “However I feel placing Joshua Tree Reside out simply earlier than the pandemic hit, it was the proper alternative to point out folks we’re a dwell band – within the studio we’re three producers and three songwriters, however we’re a band who [also] play dwell.” Rufus would possibly specialize in brooding beats (in addition they DJ as a trio), however taking part in conventional devices dwell has helped them join with audiences past typical membership children.
Requested to explain themselves in three phrases every, the band members are considerate and measured. “Passionate, cheeky, smiley,” says George, grinning. “Inventive, obsessive, passionate,” provides Hunt. Considering his response as if mulling over a chess transfer, Lindqvist lastly speaks. “Imperfect, loving, weak,” he says as his bandmates coo in approval.
It’s this heart-on-sleeve method to each their music and more and more, to who they’re as folks, that has helped Rufus win hearts all around the world.
Rufus Du Sol’s new album Give up is out on October 22 by Rose Avenue and Reprise/Warner Data.
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