Interview: RÜFÜS ‘BLOOM’ with James Hunt


Rüfüs are bigger than ever this year. The talented boys and former school mates Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt, hailing from Sydney Australia, have launched their much-anticipated sophomore album BLOOM. It’s already topped the ARIA charts in January, booting Adele from her #1 spot that she guarded for months, and their two lead singles You Were Right and Like An Animal landed in Triple J’s hottest 100 countdown (#12 & #28). Rüfüs are in the middle of a mostly sold out EU/UK/US/Canada tour, are set to launch their Australia/New Zealand tour starting in Adelaide 29th April and finishing up in Auckland 27th May 2016, with some shows already sold out (Melb/Syd), and second shows announced. It’s no surprise the buzz surrounding their latest release, that they’ve also landed a spot in the coveted music festival Coachella, later this month.

We spoke to James Hunt, drummer, before BLOOM released and he gave us some insight into how the album was created and how the band coped with homesickness on tour and the inspiration sparked by travelling the world:


Hi James, thank you for talking to Concrete Journal today, how are you?

Hey how are you? I’m good!


Rüfüs’ new album ‘BLOOM’ is due to be released tomorrow, what can fans expect from this album? 

For us it’s an extension of what we’ve previously done on our last album and the EP before that; this is the most personal project that we’ve done to date. We came into it wanting to make a record based off the music that we were loving at the time and we had an aesthetic drive and real sonic drive that by the end of the writing process I think there was a real thematic drive to what we were doing and we didn’t even plan for that and it was something that we related to and where we were at in our lives at the time so hopefully people can really draw upon it in their own way.


You mention you went in a bit of a different direction thematically, is there any reason why you decided to go into that direction? 

I guess where we were at in our lives, something that drove us at the time and we were touring a lot on the back of our last album ‘Atlas’ and that was a really amazing experience being able to travel the world and see places and experience that kind of lifestyle, but at the same time there was this increased sense of displacement and decompression of coming back to Australia, to home, and then leaving again. It was the kind of push and pull that started shaping the theme of the record and I think we all realised that that was something pretty rich for us to draw upon. When we write the aim isn’t to push a really strong message or put a strong focus on that feeling or mood or atmosphere and environment, it kind of just occurred naturally, there were these things that were happening in our lives that felt really organic to draw upon for the songs we were crafting.


What has been the highlight of your career so far?

It’s pretty hard to say, it feels like every time something amazing happens it’s another step up and there’s constant highs and constant rushes it’s been pretty surreal to be honest; but I think one experience I come back to is playing Falls Festival two years ago just a few months after we released ‘Atlas’. Before that we had been playing for a few years and increasing playing to some bigger crowds and that was really amazing, but there was this one show we were playing in Byron Bay for Falls and the sun was setting over the hill and there were just huge crowds and I feel like that was the most pinch-yourself-moments I’ve had ever, I kind of just left my body a little bit like ‘how the fuck did I get to this?’ ‘This is crazy!’ It was amazing and for some reason it’s been a really poignant moment in my head, I feel like there’s so many things happening at the moment it’s hard to process.

You’re just constantly pinching yourself (laughter)

Yeah, I’m pinching, exactly! 


When was the defining moment in your career when you knew you were onto something big?

I think after spending a year writing ‘Atlas’, we’d never put an album out before and we’d been doing EP’s and smaller bodies of work, so we had this large body of work we wrote and put our heart and soul into and it was that sort of nervousness about putting something out; well not even nervousness but just like excitement and anticipation about seeing how the world is going to respond. When it’s the first time you’ve done something like that you don’t really have any preconceptions about how it will play out, and I think that kind of reaction was pretty amazing for us and that’s already happened again on this record, BLOOM. Putting singles out and seeing that positive affirmation back for what we’re doing is really nice and validating, I guess that’s one way of gauging where you’re at.


There’s definitely a lot buzz surrounding the upcoming release of BLOOM, could you tell us about the motivation behind and the significance of the title?

We were initially pretty inspired by underwater imagery and underwater animals when we started writing and we would have these sort of image screen saver playlist things of jellyfish and whales and we really enjoyed the serenity of these animals and that they were floating in negative space, almost weightless and I think that was a big sonic drive. We were always trying to write and create sounds that sounded as if they were these animals floating from left to right on our sonic sphere and bubbling about. So we were kind of just researching things about jellyfish and underwater animals and discovered that another way of referring to a group of jellyfish is a ‘Bloom’ and we loved the dual meaning of that in referring that kind of underwater environment which was so influential in the sonic direction of the albums as well as the other alternative meaning of growing up. Dealing with the decompression of coming back home after touring for so long forced maturity out of that. I think it’s just a really nice relevant word for us.


I think it’s very suiting, you definitely get that vibe listening to the album. How would you describe the Rüfüs sound to those that aren’t familiar to your music yet?

I guess for us the sound is a kind of melting pot of everything that we’ve listened to; there’s elements of softer electronica, elements of house, we listen to a lot of acts that have bit more of a pop sensibility, we really love people who write music with a pop sensibility in a clever way so for us it’s kind of this big cauldron of things just mixed about. It’s pretty hard to describe to someone else what they’re gonna get out of it, we’re all just in our little cave, our little bubble writing for ourselves and then just spitting something out into the world and seeing how it might be responded to.


Who and what are your influences collectively as a band or to you personally?

There are quite a few, we’ve really branched out with what we’re listening to for this album, but a big influence that we always sort of talk about is this guy called David August who’s a producer out of Germany and we love his approach to electronic music, it’s really intelligent and spacious and patient and the kind of sound that he harnesses is really nice warmly and spacey, there’s just this sense of cinematic epic-ness about the tracks that he writes. Also Booka ShadeMaribou State we listened to lots of The Avalanches for this album a producer call Hnny and a producer called Vanilla. We love all that sample-y choir, choral parts and the strings that are a little bit stretched and warped and sounded kind of dusty and old and that was a big kind of initial sonic drive for us.


You, Tyrone and Jon seem like pretty close friends, I imagine you would spend a lot of time with each other especially when touring, how do you guys get along? 

We get along great! When we’re working together we know when to give each other space if need be or when we’re under stress, I think we’re all pretty easy going people so it’s never too hard to get everyone to get along and be diplomatic, not to try and create shit between each other or create fights that [cause] tension and it’s cool, it feel like the three of us are friends. We hang out outside of Rüfüs related stuff, we see our friends and go to parties it’s all pretty chill. It’s a really nice vibe.


Your Coachella performance has been announced for April this year, are you looking forward to it? Have you been to Coachella before?

I haven’t been to Coachella and neither has Tyrone. Jon went a few years ago and he was raving about it, but I think we’re kind of stoked about that, it’s kind of an institution in itself, and seeing our name in the lineup there surrounded by huge names and artist that we really respect and look up to is something that’s pretty special! I think everyone is just hanging out for LCD Sound System, so that’s probably going to be a highlight.


The band spent some time in Berlin, and I hear that you had some influence from the music scene there, what was it about the Berlin music scene that had such a profound impression on you? 

I’m not sure exactly what it [was] but it felt like there’s this culture of taste in music over there. People really knew what they loved about the music they were listening to, every clothes shop you would go into they were playing a song or maybe a record and you would go ‘hey what’s this song?’ and they would know the artist or they would know when they’d seen them play before. I think there was a sense of care and sense of passion there which we really soaked up, but also in terms of the actual music there was this sense of space in a lot of the tracks we discovered from the artists that were putting music out from Berlin. There was a sense of restraint which is something that is really appealing to us.


Did you guys get a bit homesick on your world tour? 

Ah yeah definitely that’s something that we’ve been becoming more and more aware of and appreciating being back in a place that you’re familiar with and surrounded by people that you’re familiar with friends and family and I guess that was probably something that seeped into the second record, into Bloom those processes leaning and then longing and then coming back and then this cyclical process.


Any dream collaborators? 

I would love to collaborate with a producer called George Fitzgerald he’s a big idol of ours, we’ve loved his production since 2011 or 2012 we he got that track ‘Child’ out, his latest output has this really nice warmth and tenderness to it like a warm hug, I’d love to just get into the studio and pick his brains and see how he does what he does.


What your personal favourite track on Bloom and why?

That’s a pretty hard question, it’s like choosing your favourite child (laughs) but for some reason I often come back to the closing track on the album ‘Innerbloom’, I’m really proud of that track and I feel like that in particular is where we allowed ourselves complete freedom, we just let something happen and accepted the results. We didn’t feel the need to edit it down or restrain it in any way we just let it have it’s own space, I dunno it’s just like every day I have a different favourite.


Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone starting in the creative industry?

I guess a really important thing I would’ve wanted to hear when I started out in the music industry is to trust your own instinct and to really do what moves you rather than try and sync or calculate what you think you should be doing. It’s so much easier said than done and I haven’t nailed that at all. I think the beauty of doing art is that it can reveal things about yourself, and that trusting what moves you will drive you to put the most authentic thing out.


Now for speed round questions:

Netflix or books? Netflix

Early bird or snooze button? Snooze button

Summer or Winter? Summer

80s or 90s? Ummm 90s

Instagram or snapchat? Instagram

Mac or PC?  Mac

Phobias? Things not being perfectly aligned. You know when you see books on a table and one’s kind of crooked, I can’t stand that when a picture is crooked I can’t deal with it!

Have you seen that picture that’s been on rotation on the internet with a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and it’s been put up the right way but the frame is off?

Oh no! I can’t deal!

Most used emoji? Probably the okay hand symbol, you know the one?

Mmm yeah I use that a lot too
Yeah it’s a good one!

BLOOM is available now

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