RÜFÜS DU SOL
Photo: Le Fawnhawk/Courtesy of artist
RÜFÜS DU SOL Are Ready To Go "Underwater" At Coachella
Australian alt-dance group RÜFÜS DU SOL, comprising Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt, have been making dreamy live house music since 2011 with their debut, RÜFÜS EP. 2016 was a big year for the group; they released their sophomore studio album, Bloom, in January and made their Coachella debut that March. They see the festival as a pivotal turning point in success as a group, especially in the U.S. market, and are excited to return to the fest three years later.
This time they are listed at the top of the lineup for their Friday evening set both weekends, and will be premiering their latest project, a 360-degree short film to accompany one of the fan-favorite tracks from 2018's Solace, "Underwater." It was directed by GRAMMY-nominated music video director James Frost—he earned the nod for Radiohead's "House Of Cards"—for an immersive experience in the HP Antarctic Dome at Coachella.
Read on to hear from band members Jon and James about who and what they want to check out at the fest ("We can lose hours in the Yuma Tent," says James) and working with Frost for the video. They also discuss the creative process for recording their last album (they got fancy synths and set up shop in Los Angeles!) and translating it live on stage.
What are you most looking forward to about Coachella?
James Hunt: For us it's pretty special because we played Coachella for the first time in 2016. That felt like a really important turning point for us in our career, especially in the U.S. It felt like after that set we found a lot more momentum. I think the visibility that it gave us, and the ability to play in front of that many people really helped us out. It feels really special to be returning to the site of it.
And one thing we love about Coachella, especially from that time when we were there roaming around and exploring, was how it isn't just about the artists and the bands that are playing, but it's a really well curated array of experiences and interactive art pieces; it allows the ability for everyone to curate their own little journey. So we're excited to gallivant around and go on our own little journey.
What other acts do you want to check out during the festival?
James: Tame Impala, fellow Australian. Stephan Bodzin. The electronic contingent is always really strong at Coachella too, we found. We can lose hours in the Yuma Tent under the disco ball shark thing.
Jon: Over at the DoLab [Stage] as well they always put on some good stuff.
Can you talk about working with James Frost for the "Underwater" short film that you are releasing soon?
James: It's been a really pleasurable experience working with him. And especially considering his resume, you know a talented director of music videos for Radiohead, for Coldplay. We love his work and so then we found out we were able to work with this guy and he was gonna have a visual response to our song "Underwater," we were pretty blown away.
Beyond that he's just a really humble and really nice, personable person. He's allowed a lot of creative back and forth, which we really enjoyed that kind of process. And also he's just someone who has a very specific visual concept. He knows exactly specific visual things that he wants to explore. We've seen the work in progress as what the "Underwater" experience will be like in the dome. It's gonna be very, very special.
What are you most excited about in regards to premiering at Coachella?
James: I guess we're mainly excited to see it. We've seen different snippets and different things along the way. And we've made a kind of cinematic soundscape that goes for about a minute before the actual song starts. So it will be really cool to see what the visuals are like that they've created to go with them.
Jon: Yeah, and also the surround sound experience as well. It's gonna be a pretty mind blowing experience for us on that first day of watch as well. Excited for everyone to see it.
So it will be a full premiere for you as well?
"It was our therapy in the studio in a way, being able to put all that onto paper, or onto track. I think that's where the emotionality, personality and intimacy on the record really started to shine through."
The whole Solace album it feels really deep and passionate. What's the back story on the album?
James: Coming into our third record we'd been touring for two years pretty non-stop leading into it. And we started again for the third time with this record to pack up and sort of isolate ourselves and move somewhere different, with the whole purpose of sort of pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. And that just sort of rifled right through the whole process with us sort of getting rid of our normal workflow and deleting a bunch of stuff on our computers and starting fresh with a whole new live room.
We bought all the synthesizers and toys that we've been dreaming of over the last few years and finally we're able to do that. And we set up this sort of adult playground for ourselves in the studio in Venice [Calif.]. We would just get up each day and unveil the curtain inside and loose many hours in there writing music.
And I think with that isolation with the new relocation into a new place and that sort of workflow that we had going on, we started to just lose ourselves a fair bit in the music. It was towards the second half of the process that we started realizing how unhealthy it can be for your personal life with pushing everything aside and that started to drive home with us and that's where that naturally came out. It was our therapy in the studio in a way, being able to put all that onto paper, or onto track. I think that's where the emotionality, personality and intimacy on the record really started to shine through.
Was that the first album you recorded in the States?
James: Yeah, that was the first record that we've recorded in America. The record before that we wrote about half of it in Berlin, and the other record we wrote on the South Coast of New South Wales in Australia. So we knew that we liked sort of picking up everything and starting fresh somewhere new and that definitely inspired the start of this process and we really enjoyed living in Venice at the time.
What is your favorite part of translating the album and that emotion live on stage?
Jon: One thing that we always find when we finish an album or finish music and then we're preparing to play it live, if the song hasn't been released there's a little bit of a nerves scenario as to how are people going to be responding to it. Are they going to like it? If there's a slight change in direction will they be open to that? There's all those thoughts that go through your head.
One of my favorite parts this time was as soon as we put the record out in Oct. last year we started a tour pretty much a week later, where we were able to for the first time see peoples' reactions in real time to a lot of this new music.
So much of those reactions were really powerful; emotional reactions where'd you see people bawling their eyes out, people having cathartic experiences on the front rail. Those really impressionable things that leave a mark on you then, having put that music out. That's one of my favorite things; our ability to write something but then when you play it live and there's such a communication between you and the audience as well, like a dial almost. Seeing their reactions is like one of the most powerful things I feel.
That's so cool. You guys have a busy tour schedule this year; what else is up next for the group and what are you all most excited about for 2019?
James: This Coachella run has been something that we've been working towards for so long. We've been really making this the first real pillar of the process after writing the record. And from here we've got some amazing pillars after that. With Red Rocks the two shows there sold out in one day which just blew our minds. I didn't even know that we had a second one ready to go. So things like that, we've got shows at the Greek Theater in Berkeley [Calif.] and we're about to announce some more big stuff.
Those are gonna be some really, really epic moments for the band. We're really trying to keep honing in the show and reinventing it and that's where we have the most fun. We've been trying to change the set list up each night on tour; write new covers and just chuck them in and keep it really fresh for ourselves. So we're gonna keep doing that throughout the rest of the year and keep reinventing the whole lighting spectacle and that's what's really exciting us at the moment.