Lightning possessing your body, lungs kidnapped by the sound of the drop, the night packed with the wide spectrum of techno, reggae and other genres you wouldn’t have ever heard tangled together.
This is what Hermitude makes me feel like. The band is a multi-instrumentalist electronic duo that has forged a music career since 2002, earning them a prominent spot in Australia’s music scene.
You might have heard them through Flume’s remix of their track “HyperParadise” back in 2012, but the Blue Mountains natives, Luke Dubber, or “Luke Dubs,” and Angus Stuart, or “El Gusto,” have created golden thrones for themselves with their new album Dark Light, Sweet Light.
Starring tracks like “The Buzz” ft. Mataya & Young Tapz, which has over 11 million plays on Spotify, their comeback to the U.S. has not gone unnoticed.
The Writer’s Bloc caught up with Luke Dubs before his show in Eugene, Oregon to talk about what inspires them and who they would love to collaborate with (hint: if it became a reality, I think the internet won’t be able to take it).
Karla: Hi, Luke! Welcome back to the U.S.! It is very exciting to have you here—It’s really great to see you both on your second U.S. tour.
Luke: Yeah totally, it’s good to be back! Back in the land of cold weather, actually. I’m currently in Eugene, Oregon and it’s a bit chilly up here, but it’s okay. A lot of forest and mountains, pretty beautiful.
K: I’ve always wanted to go there! How were the L.A. and San Diego shows?
L: They were amazing! L.A. was probably my favorite show yet, actually. Really great crowd and a beautiful room. We had a lot of fun and then we got on stage with Keys N Krates, we all danced around. It was a really nice way to end that show.
K: Last year was the first time you took Hermitude to the U.S., so this is your second tour and you’re going to perform at a lot of music festivals like Bonnaroo. How is it different this time around now that you have the new album, Dark Light, Sweet LightI, to play?
L: I mean, obviously it’s a lot different because of recognition about who we are now. The first bunch of tours we did was harder but it’s been great to see the crowd and what we can create in the venues and to see how it’s grown who we are. We’ve had really positive responses so far. We’re in a good position now that we’ve build a foundation here in the States with fellow Hermitude fans.
K: A lot of people are really excited that you’re finally here and being able to hear the new tracks since you guys first released the single “Through the Roof” ft. Young Tapz. What are your favorite tracks off of the recent record?
L: I personally like, well obviously “The Buzz” is great because it’s really fun to play and probably the most popular song off the record so it’s pretty good when they hear it, it’s really fun. I also like playing “Ukiyo.” It’s a bit more of a downtempo number, a bit more chilling. Yeah, it makes for a nice kind of environment which you now everyone kind of dance and having a great time.
K: What are the artists or genres that influenced the album? I’m from Venezuela and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Afro-Cuban vibes that were in “Through the Roof.”
L: Yeah well, Gusto has been to Cuba so he studied percussion in Havana some years ago. Cuban sounds and percussion, first of all, are close to what we do and to our heart. We love electronic music and we also listen to reggae, jazz, rock and others. I guess just a mix of everything so when it comes time to start making a record we always like to throw in just a whole bunch of different influences and kind of maybe a few moments that kind of catch people by surprise. We want to introduce something to people that they might not have heard before, and we get to fuse our music with all the styles of music that we have always loved.
K: Has it always been that way—you guys mixing all of these genres? I know that you and Gusto have played together since the band Funk Injections when you were 16 and 11, so has it always been that type of work ethic and bond?
L: Definitely. We have released quite a few records over the years and most people only know us by our last two records, which I guess have been the most popular, but if you listen back to the old stuff that we have done, it’s quite varying in influences and roots. It’s something that we’ve always been aware of and kind of excited about doing it, I suppose. Searching for sounds that are not common in the genre that we’re in added a new flavor and make it more exciting, you know.
K: Some artists say that music for them is like another language, a bridge that connects many people. What does music mean to you?
L: I guess music is like… I mean music is my life, really, and it sounds cliché but thinking about it, I’m pretty much — I just travel and make music and it’s all-consuming in my life, but I think like regardless whether I did it or not, I think music is such a great relationship for everyone. It’s a combination of sounds and frequencies and just some of those sounds resonates with everyone, I guess. But like you know when you hear that amazing song it just — it can make you cry or jump up and down, and it doesn’t have to have lyrics, you know, it can be like a tune and it makes you so ecstatic or happy or sad or whatever. So I guess music for me is being able to convey those kinds of feelings with like sounds and, you know, where language isn’t a barrier. It’s an amazing thing and a privilege to be able to share with people and see first hand what kind of excitement that it generates.
K: I know that you both were in a photo with other artists at Laneway Fest with the hashtag “Let Them Stay.” For those that don’t know what that was in reference to, can you explain what it was about?
L: That message had to do with the basically the immigrants coming to Australia. We have a lot of people that arrive in Australia by boat who are fleeing their countries. So, basically our government has, we think, a really bad policy where people go through offshore processing when they shoot them out to this island off the coast of Australia where they’re basically put into a refugee camp. It’s pretty much like a prison out there, the conditions are terrible and inhumane. There’s been a lot of protesting about the way Australia handles its refugees. But that photo is basically all of us together and saying together that we don’t really agree with the government policy of offshore processing and we want the refugees to stay and that was the origin of that photo. It was awesome to see all of the bands get together and be behind it. You know, we are not overly political, but we have a platform and to be able to use it as a way to convey a positive message.
K: That’s amazing because now, especially in the U.S. with Trump and Europe and everywhere else, people really need to be aware of the refugee crisis. The second to last question is: are there any international artists you guys would like to collaborate with?
L: You know, I always had this dream of having Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean on the same track. Yeah those two guys are at the top of the collab list, they’re really good.
K: What’s in store for Hermitude in 2016?
L: We’re pretty much on the road a lot this year, we’re really working hard to bring our album to the world so we’re playing a lot of festivals here in America. We’re playing in Europe a lot and back home in Australia and wherever we can get a gig. Basically with that, we’re writing as much music as we can and brainstorming a whole bunch of ideas on how the next record will be, I guess. Later on in the year, we can get serious about it.
K: Luke, thank you so much for your time. It’s going to be really rad for you guys to be in D.C. on March 4!
Featured Photo Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Flickr user Angus Gratton.
Karla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.