Hermitude defining that unique Australian sound

At Lollapalooza in the press tent, shortly before playing a set of entirely new and unreleased music exclusive to the festival, the Hermitude boys sat down and talked to me. Their style, like their music, was laid back and engaging.

Scott Wilson: So you guys just doing this gig and getting out of here?

Angus Stuart: Yeah, we get done here and then hop on an aiplane straight to LA for another festival.

Luke Dubber: We’re pretty busy, but it’s fun.

SW: When you guys are composing music, how important is space and place?

AS: Um, we have a recording studio that’s pretty nice and everything’s patched-in and ready to record so if we have any ideas we can just hit the record button and keep going. Having everything set up like that helps the creative process because you can just go. But I also am down to do what I need to do. We do a lot of work on planes.

SW: So then has technology made a big difference in this process?

LD: One of the biggest impacts, technology-wise, has been playing live shows. We used to play off tape, of DAT tape.

AS: I don’t think we could even afford laptops when we started.

LD: We had this old micro DAT tape we bought for like fifty bucks and we’d just hit play at shows. Then we’d press pause and be like, “Hey thanks for that, here’s another” and press play again. If we wanted to skip a song Angus would have to fast forward and I’d talk to the crowd.

SW: Do you ever go retro and play with the old machines? 

Luke: Not for live no, but we definitely have all the old synths.

AS: For sure, we love playing around in the studio. We’ve got a pretty decent analog synth collection. That’s where we get a lot of our sounds from, I guess.

SW: I’ve noticed a big surge of southern down under groups in North America: Chet Faker, UV Race, Broods… Have you had a good reception up here?

AS: Yeah, yeah definitely. The Australian sound is really recognized and it’s really gratifying to hear that. It’s really cool and cool to be a part of.

SW: Is there an Australian aesthetic you subscribe to?

LD: I think there is a definite sound. Especially in Australia, if feel there is something original there. We’ve kind of been doing our thing for a minute so we do get in with that but we’ve just been floating around on the peripheral. Australia’s always had a good electronic scene.

SW: You have two very distinct aesthetics: a dark, clubby, grindy type of noise and a lighter, bouncier side. Which do you think works best in a festival like Lollapalooza?

AS: I think they both work.

LD: Yeah, in our live shows we like to build people up and bring them down, and kind of react to how the crowd is feeling.  Part of doing a live performance is giving someone a cool show and having those juxtapositions of pushing and pulling the crowd.

AS: We grew up playing together in a band in our home town, and we’ve always been very conscious of making sure people had a good time. When the song goes, people tend to get a little spastic in whatever kind of dance they choose.

SW: How do you know when a song is done? Or do they ever get done?

LD: The deadline sort of chooses it for us. We listen to a song one last time and if we both agree then it’s good. Some songs give us a hard time, and it’s like the artist who can’t stop from one last brush stroke, but usually we can stop.

SW: Do  the songs change much when you do them live?

AS: They’re always a bit different. That’s one of the reasons we feel people come to a live show, so that they can see something a bit different, like a little extra from the album version.

SW: What do you guys do for fun between sets and stuff?

AS: If we’re at festivals we like to watch the other shows. If we can get backstage we’ll try to take a look and see how the others are doing it. If we’re in a city we like to go to museums and stuff. The weirdest show we ever played was in a mining town called Cargill, a mining town in the middle of Australia. It was pretty much just miners and prostitutes, but we stayed in a hotel with a pool shaped like a guitar. We had a lot of weird conversations there.

SW: Well make the most of your time here in Chicago. I’d say you should stay away from miners and prostitutes, but it sounds like you know what you’re doing.