How the Australian band found ‘Solace’ and creative nirvana in Venice Beach.
RÜFÜS DU SOL members Jon George, Tyrone Lindqvist, and James Hunt grew up on the coast of New South Wales. After discovering a mutual passion for music and similar tastes, the three decided to see what would happen if they got together to work in a studio.
The result was RÜFÜS DU SOL, the alternative-dance group who are acclaimed for pushing the boundaries of genre and redefining electronic music with their unique sound.
In the time since their formation, RÜFÜS DU SOL have topped Australian charts with their albums Bloom and Solace, won multiple ARIA awards, and earned a double nomination in the upcoming 2020 Grammy Awards. Document caught up with Jon George about the band’s collaborative writing process and what it’s like to wake up to two Grammy nominations.
Lauren Tischler: First off I wanted to say congratulations, because RÜFÜS DU SOL was just nominated for two Grammys. This is your first time being nominated right?
Jon George: [Laughs] Yeah, first time, two Grammys. That’s pretty wild.
Lauren: Insane. Where were you guys when you heard?
Jon: I got a message from someone at the Warner label at like 6 am. I happened to wake up, and I wasn’t expecting it or knew that it was getting announced, so it was really out of the blue. And such an amazing experience. We all got together that morning and had a little celebration breakfast, high-fives. So yeah, it was really nice to be recognized in that way.
Lauren: RÜFÜS DU SOL remixed the Foals song “The Runner” recently, how did that come about?
Jon: We were fans of Foals right from the beginning; they were one of our earlier influences. Particularly, not that you would hear it in our sound necessarily, but their indie aesthetic and feel of their music. We love all of their albums, and we got to see them a bunch first. They’re so tight as a band. We have huge respect for them in that way.
Jon: And we became sort of friends as we started growing up more in the scene ourselves. We saw them a few months ago, and they were telling us about the two-part record that they were putting out. They had already put out the first part which we were loving, and they were interested in us remixing a track off the second part. We loved the track that we heard, and we just sort of tried to pay homage to their vocal and to the feeling of the original track.
Lauren: This is the first remix that RÜFÜS DU SOL has done in a while.
Jon: Yes, we haven’t done a remix in a long time. This seemed like a nice fit and something to do in between—we’ve been writing a bit recently as well.
Lauren: What is the band’s writing process like? Does one person usually bring an idea to the group, or is it the three of you in a room bouncing thoughts off of each other?
Jon: Yeah, it can change a lot. We’re usually all in a room together and we just have fun with different ideas and sort of get a feeling down. Once we have the feeling down, we can go from there in different directions. But we just try to put down the feeling of the day or the feeling that we want to get out. It’s a pretty fun process.
Lauren: For Solace, were you trying to encapsulate a feeling for the album, or do you feel like it was individual feelings within each track?
Jon: I think there’s a general mood throughout the album. We wrote so many songs for Solace, so the album was just a selection of the certain mood that we wanted to patch together as a body of work that really made sense in its own journey from start-to-finish. So that’s sort of the best way to describe how that general mood came out, and obviously, within that there are different feelings.
Lauren: How long ago did you start writing the songs for the album; how long did it take to come into fruition?
Jon: About a year. We moved to Venice Beach in LA and we were all living there in this four-bedroom house; it was a really nice setup. We had a big pool out back, and we were there for all of summer and through winter, and the studio was just out in the back in this separate building. We could work until like six in the morning recording drums and stuff, and no one could hear us. It was pretty ideal. So that’s why we wrote so much.
Lauren: I feel like environment can be so important for creativity.
Jon: Yeah, it was just a really good community vibe there, and the area that we were in was really conducive to being creative and writing music. It was so much fun, we’d just get up and walk into the studio, and we had friends coming over all of the time that we could bounce ideas off of.
Lauren: You’ve recently been releasing a series of documentary-style videos for Solace.
Jon: Each track from the record has a certain video attached to it. We’ve got the final two coming out soon. I guess we’re just putting words and feelings in recaps of where we were at, or where we are at right now, to different songs from the record. So it’s been nice to see where we were and where we’re at now.
Lauren: Do you collaborate with other artists on the videos?
Jon: We work closely with my brother Alex George, who also goes by the name Katzki. He’s directed a lot of our film clips from the very beginning, and now he works with us as our creative director. We have Leah Barylsky, she’s attached to those videos. They’ve been working really well together, and Leah, in particular, has been in charge of these pieces, and she’s just done a beautiful job of being able to sum up some of these songs for us.
Lauren: It seems like collaboration is a running theme for RÜFÜS DU SOL; you’ve worked with a lot of other artists on remixes and visuals, and then of course there are three of you in the band. Does it ever get challenging to work together so closely?
Jon: It’s really fluid. That’s why we work really well together, and why it’s a pleasure to do what we do. It’s so much fun going into the studio together, and whenever we get asked if we want to work with other producers, it’s a tough one, because there are three producers already in the band, and we’re struggling to get out all the ideas we already have with the time we have in the studio. So, we have a lot of fun doing what we do. We’ve got something very special that started right at the beginning that we don’t take for granted.