Interview: Hermitude

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By Andra Jenkin

Elgusto, one part of the innovative electronic/dance music duo, Hermitude, sat down with one of our interviewers this past week; chatting about their loaded schedule, the bands ethos, how they communicate an instrumental show, and their many creative collaborations. 

Hermitude have kept themselves sharp, always delivering the goods for 2019.  Their newest track OneFourThree ft Buddy and BJ The Chicago Kid is one such example, with its dancefloor groove and seductive beats. Determined to have a busy year, the duo have recently announced POLLYANARCHY, a new album set to drop this spring, and The Hermitude World Tour, kicking off next month and bringing the two to many venues across Australasia. 

Let’s talk about your upcoming dates then, you’ve got a full on tour coming up, from Korea, here...
We’re kind of doing a bit of a world tour; we’re off to Asia, and the States and then Australia and New Zealand which is going to be really fun. 

What are you particularly looking forward to?
I’m pretty excited about going to South Korea. I’ve never been to Seoul before and I hear that they like to party there, and have a good time.  Also extremely excited about eating some of the food there. [laughs]

Can you see yourself eating something like scorpions on sticks?
Yeah, yeah I’m up for trying anything really. Another place that should be interesting is Hong Kong because it’s also going through a lot of turbulence at the moment and I’m not even sure if we’re going to get in there or not, but that should be pretty exciting either way. 

I had friends coming out of there yesterday and they’re saying that they’re being rerouted to KL (Kuala Lumpur).
Right, ok, yeah, it’s a bit hairy, I’m not sure what’s going on but we’re supposed to be playing there next week. [laughs]

Wow, ok, well good luck with that.
Thank you. 

Getting right in the middle of some political turmoil there.
Yeah. Well sometimes people just need some good music when that shit’s going down. You know. 

Well yours are particularly full of happy vibes, is that deliberate, is that your life’s philosophy?
We’re fairly positive people. Everyone has their ups and downs and all that... But the music we make, we try to create a good vibe for people through our music. Whether it’s a happy, positive, uplifting, fun vibe or even if it’s a bit more of an introspective darker vibe—we still want it to feel good. So I guess that does come through out music and if that helps people then all the better. 

Is there a central philosophy that you and Dubs share?
Well, the name Hermitude is kind of about the attitude of a hermit. We grew up in the Blue Mountains and we made our music out in the bush when we first started and it was like we were hermits; it was like the attitude of a hermit. I don’t know if that’s exactly the philosophy that we share but we are kind of both on a very similar trip in terms of; you treat people how you would like to be treated. I guess that’s our philosophy really. We’re not part of any religious thing. That’s the best that I can do on that. 

Fair enough. Your hometown show was sold out in a day. What’s it like going back now?
Well, it’s super exciting because we haven’t been back for a number of years which is why we wanted to do the hometown show in the first place. We grew up there and a lot of our formative years were spent honing our craft up there and we had a lot of support from our friends and family and the scene up there, it’s a small town. We wanted to go back to say “thanks for helping us out,” and we wanted to give them something special as well. It’s the first stop on our world tour, basically. We just wanted to have fun and show that we really appreciate where we come from and see lots of old faces and to have a good time. It’s in a small community centre up there, and we’re bringing in the PA and lights and stuff like that so it’s going to be a really fun vibe. 

That sounds amazing, so you’re bringing in lights and things. Do you have a massive visual show? To what extent are visuals an important part of your stage show?
We do, we have this guy Kenny Lowdown do a whole bunch of visuals for our show and it’s a really big part of what we do because a lot of the music is instrumental so we want to tell a bit of a story through visuals and let people get immersed in the show with the visuals and the lights. We re-ramped the show this time round, it’s pretty exciting, and we’ve got a couple of cameras as well. So it’s going to be a really fun show. People will be able to see a bit of what we’re going on stage as well which is really fun. 

That’s great, that  was really leading into my next question where I was going to ask how you communicate your ideas to your audience, with more instrumental music? Is it more of a vibe or is there something you want to impart, a part of a theme to your show?
I think when people come to a Hermitude show they know it’s going to be a fun time and they know it’s going to be a party. One of the greatest things I can get out of the show is the cycle of energy. I feel like we push out a lot of energy and then that psychs up the crowd and then they feed us energy back and this becomes this kind of cycle. It’s one of the most exciting things that you can feel when you’re a live performer and play live. That’s what gives you a natural high-when you come off stage and it’s been a great show and you literally—your adrenalin is peaking out and it’s an amazing feeling that I think that’s one thing that we’re lucky to get as performers. Some people won’t experience, or don’t get to experience that much, is that rush of adrenalin… That you’ve just been fed energy by a huge amount of people for about an hour and a half. 

Yeah, it is an amazing feeling getting back from the crowd. Do you take that off stage, are you living the festival life?
Yeah, we take it off stage and then we…oh, just outside of gigs in general?

Is there a lot of partying on a Hermitude tour?
There’s a bit of partying. We give it a nudge here and there. With touring it’s got to be about balance. Like anything in life I guess. You can’t party the whole time or you’re going to burn out by a week and a half, two weeks in, and if you’re on a month and a half, two months tour you’ve really got to go, “Okay, I’ve really got to look after myself.” We’re going to have some fun but we’re also going to make sure that we can perform and give people what they came to see each night. So it’s something that you’ve got to be aware of. 

What’s the best and the worst of being on tour so far?
The best thing is what I was saying before; getting to share your music with people and feel the energy come back; pushing out love and receiving it. I guess the worst is having to get up for a 5.30am lobby call, with a hangover, and having to go to an airport and going through security. That’s like my worst nightmare.

Oh yeah, and there’s so many different security measures in different countries now…
America is so intense with their security. It’s kind of mostly the same at most airports, but they just have these people shouting at you constantly “YOU’VE GOT TO TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, MAKE SURE YOU PUT THEM IN THE BAG! BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! You know it’s really intense–[Wow]–and you go over the border into Canada and they’re like, [laid back voice] “Hey everyone, um, just make sure you put your laptop in the bag.” It’s chill. 

Nice. Imagine if you took tweezers with you.
Yeah, totally. It’s horrible. I hate it. 

You collaborate a lot; who’s been some stand out collaborators and what have you learnt from them?
It was a pleasure to be able to work with BJ the Chicago Kid and Buddy on track 1, 4, 3 which we just released. For one we’re fans of those guys, we were bumping up BJ the Chicago Kid’s last album when we were on tour a few years ago and just loving it. To have the chance to collaborate with these people was just like a dream come true. It was super special, we went to L. A. and we got in the room with them and met them and hung out and played music. We played 1,4, 3 and they were like, “yeah, let’s get on this.” It was just a really special moment as a musician getting to work with people who you’re actually fans with and create something together is a super special thing. It’s been a blast actually.

We’ve worked with B. B. Borelli, who’s an amazing writer and artist in her own right and she’s worked with people like Rhianna, and just like a top tier writer and artist. She was incredible. We didn’t get to be in the room with her, but we Skyped and talked back and forth on email and stuff and she just has this most, I don’t know, it’s incredible how her style and flavour just come through and you recognise that you’re working some someone who’s next level. 

Yeah her voice was beautiful on the track.
Yeah, insane, this is kind of getting a bit nerdy, but when we were mixing the track, her vocals just sat in the track perfectly without any sort of processing like EQ or compression, I was like, “This is sitting great, maybe I’ll just have a look at the EQ,” then I realised that it didn’t even have any EQ on there. It’s crazy. She’s special. 

Wow. That’s amazing. Who is it your dream to work with?
Well, we’ve ticked the box with BJ and Buddy. I’d like to work with James Blake. I think he’s just an incredible artist and a beautiful musician. He’s one guy that I just really look up to. He’s a whole package, he produces and things and he’s an amazing musician in terms of piano player and stuff like that. I’d love to work with him.  Chance the Rapper would be really fun. He’s amazing again, another musician again that’s just crazy. Those two definitely straight off the top of my head. 

You’ve worked with Tapz before when you came here. Do you try to incorporate musicians from the city you’re touring or is it just who’s up and coming at the time?
We kind of work with whoever’s got the flavour we dig. In terms of Tapz, he’s just got so much talent oozing through him. I can’t wait. I think he dropped a new single recently and I’m sure he’s going to do big things. He’s just got so much flavour going on. But you know we try, if we can, to collaborate. If we’re playing shows in the city and they’re around, we’ll try to get ‘em up to do the songs that we’ve done with them, for sure. 

Having a look at your Speak of the Devil, it’s an award winning music video as well. How do you translate your music to a visual medium? Do you have an idea of where you want to go with the medium, or do you trust someone else with your song and let them run with it?
Funnily enough I hate video clips. [laughs] I hate doing video clips. I’m not particularly a visual person. I’m real good at music, but when it comes to visual stuff I don’t have a full vision for a film clip. I’m okay with maybe artwork to so with album covers, but when it comes to a visual representation of a song I find that quite hard. So we generally find people who actually work in that medium and who we really dig and then we’ll pitch out to a few people. Hey, we’ve got our track and we really wanna to work with you and then we see what comes back. And we’ve been really lucky to work with amazing people, particularly on Speak of the Devil, with Emma Tomelty, and she was just fantastic and it was an amazing experience. To get a video back that enhances the track even more, that’s when you know you’ve got a really good film clip, is when it makes the song even better.

And now you’re great big stars, what keeps you honest and grounded?
My partner. She lets me know--she keeps me grounded, and my cat. 

We’ve only got another minute before we’re going to get disconnected so I want to say thank you so much for your time, and what’s left to conquer?
We want to keep growing as artists and musicians and there’s always work to do, so I’m always interested in going down new avenues and trying to better ourselves as much as we can.

Listen to OneFourThree HERE.


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