The Australian Takeover: Part III: Hermitude

El Gusto left, Luke Dubs right. Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre
El Gusto left, Luke Dubs right. Photo taken by Kieran MacIntyre for M&C 2015

For the third installment of our spotlight on Australia’s exploding electronic music scene we got to chat with the burgeoning beat wizards, Hermitude.

The duo, consisting of Luke Dubber (Luke Dubs) and Angus Stuart (El Gusto), has been making a lot of ripples back in their home country, with their fifth album Dark Night Sweet Light garnering many praises and winning the coveted Australian Music Prize (modeled after the UK’s Mercury Prize) in 2013 for their last full length, HyperParadise, plus Aussie favorite Flume reworking the titular track of the record.

Now they are starting to get a lot of attention here stateside being the top stars of the wave of producers from down under taking the worldwide thoroughfare of electronic music by storm, they performed all over the country this year, including at LA’s Hard Summer, where I caught their incredible live set for the first time. Their savant instrumentation translates wonderfully live, along with a catalog replete with hip-hop tinged electronic gold that sounds great both recorded and live. Their Future sound is a trove of nostalgic beats commingled with forward thinking synth arrangements surrounding them.

After their set at HARD I got to chat with Luke and Gus about their unique sound, their busy tour schedule and their live set-up for performing.

Read the M&C interview below and be sure to grab a copy of Dark Night Sweet Light, out Friday!

So you guys played Lollapalooza (in Chicago) yesterday, Osheaga (in Montreal) on Friday and here at HARD Summer today, how are you guys feeling?

Dubs: Tired [laughs] feeling good, but tired, we also flew direct in from Australia just before Osheaga. Still jet-lagged but having a ball because all of these festivals have been amazing, [very] happy to be here.

How would you guys describe Future?

D: I guess if you got into a Delorean and drove to the year 2035, that would be the equivalent of what we’re trying to do now… Nah, I’m totally joking [laughs]

Gusto: That was perfect!

D: We’ve been writing this record that’s coming out here in August 28th, Dark Night Sweet Light, we’ve been trying to work on something that’s a little bit different and something that’s pushing our comfort zone a little bit as well you know. Something that is not easy to write in the sense that we want to do something that’s influenced by what’s happening but also trying to be a little bit different as well.

How’s the reaction been to the album back in Australia? (Dark Night Sweet Light was released there in May)

D: The reaction to the record has been amazing! We went number one in Australia so that was just a huge deal for us. As an artist you’re never sure whether that’s going to happen to you, so just putting everything into the record, handing it over to the public and seeing what’s going to happen is an amazing experience. Hopefully we get good reviews, good vibes over here.

There seems to be a Flume effect on Australia, in which a post-Flume Australian scene has been garnering a lot of attention over here in the states, what are you guys enjoying about the current music scene in Australia?

G: Flume has had a massive effect on everything, really, it’s been amazing to watch his trajectory because it’s something that is incredibly unique and you don’t see that kind of rise often. Just incredible to watch! When he remixed “HyperParadise” for us, that was before he blew up, we just loved what he did before that and we’re lucky enough that he lived in Sydney and was game to do a remix it just all came together really quickly and easily.

I think there’s been a sound bubbling in Australia for a while and it’s just been under the radar a little bit but with Flume coming here, blowing up, it’s really paved the way for a lot of other artists to get recognized as well, because there is an Australian sound and it’s happening right now, obviously there’s a lot of us here doing all of these shows. It’s cool to see it getting [attention] across the globe.

From doing some reading on the club scene on Australia, it seems that the scene has seeing trouble from the Abbott (Tony Abbott, the Australian PM) runned government. Do you think it’s going to get better or it’s going to get worse?

D: We’ll continue [despite] whatever the government does, whether it’s in a lockout zone in the city, or whether it’s out in a warehouse in the industrial area of Sydney, I talk about Sydney obviously that’s where I know because we’re from that town. The electronic scene has been more than healthy for a long time in Sydney before all of this stuff came along. I think it’s unfortunate what’s happening at the moment with the government back in Australia, it’s been really hard on a lot of (club) nights that run in the city, it’s been really taxing on them, which is super unfortunate.

At the same time the music that’s coming out of Australia is a force to be reckoned with around the world now and I think that’s going to continue back home, it’s only going to push the music wherever it has to be to be heard, whether it’s further out to the suburbs or to warehouses, wherever it has to live, it’s not going to die that’s for sure.

You guys have been playing Los Angeles a lot recently. What do you guys enjoy about LA?

D: It’s just such a hub for music, just a lot of big things going on here. Everyone comes through here, you can hook up and do sessions for months on end with different artists. It’s such a world star place, for us it’s so much fun to come here, it’s like a second home for us you know we come here, stay here most often. It’s the vibe, we love the Cali vibe, people are chilled, relaxed. It works for Australians, Australians and Americans mesh really well.

G: It’s a good gateway to America as well… It’s the closest place to start but you also get a good feel for what America is like here, we’ve had the lucky opportunity of going to other cities like Atlanta or New York, spending a bit of time over there. Seeing the differences, they’re quite vast, which is something we don’t have back in Australia, you go coast to coast in Australia and the culture is quite similar, whereas the culture in America, when you go to different cities it’s so different. Not just musically, like also culinary, just everything you know. To come to LA and experience this culture, then go to Atlanta, go to Chicago, go to New York, it’s really great to sample everything a bit.

What is your equipment set up for your live sets?

D: So we use two turntables, a DJ mixer running Serato, and we got an MPC1000, which we trigger our samples off, a lot of the vocal chops and everything like that over our tracks, we do that live. And we’ve got a Nord Electro Three and SPDDS drum pad… That and a couple of microphones, we try and perform our show as live as possible, in the electronic sense, cause we both grew up playing in bands and we just don’t want to just stand behind a laptop, we just feel weird if we aren’t actually playing something so we just put it all together, it’s still put together like a DJ mix but we still play everything live.

What are some plans for the rest of 2015?

G: We’re pretty much on the road at the moment, because the record just came out back home, so we’ve got a lot of touring. We’re going to be back in America, we’ve got Splash House in Palm Springs next weekend, then we come back for Halloween, we do another run [in the US] and a few gigs back home.

D: Doing some big shows back home, which is really cool.

G: And just writing as well, we’re slightly getting back into the studio when we can, just think about what the direction of the next record might be! Working on some remixes as well.

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