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Weekly updates

In the space of two short years, Sydney trio RÜFÜS have forged their way to the forefront of Australia’s bustling EDM scene with a steady trickle of infectious indie dance anthems. Since their inception, the band has been swept up in a wave of local and international hype that has seen them hitting the top of the revered Hype Machine charts and playing festivals throughout Europe. Now they’re on the verge of releasing their debut album Atlas and have been announced on the lineups for the 2014 Big Day Out and this year’s inaugural Listen Out Festival. Speaking with founding member Jon George, his buzzed mood clearly doesn’t need much of an explanation.

Atlas comes out in one week. How are you guys feeling now that it’s getting closer and closer to the release date?

We’re super psyched – we sort of finished it a little while ago now so we’ve been biting our nails waiting. We’re really excited for it to finally get out there and for people to hear it.

I guess we made the music for ourselves but also ‘cause we thought that other people would dig it and I can’t wait to get some reactions.

The full album has already racked up some airtime being featured on Triple J, so you’ve given people quite a generous glimpse.

Yeah, and everything we’ve been hearing back has been so positive. I’m stoked with how it’s all going. I mean we’ve been excited about it for a while now and it’s awesome to see other people are getting excited about it too.

So you spent around 12 months on the album, what was the process like?

We started recording in July last year so it took 12 months for it to come together and just about nine months to write it. It started in Berry in the south coast of New South Wales last year in July. We wrote there for a month in a house we hired out and then we recorded the rest in our parents’ backyards in a hollowed out water tank that sort of became our home for the next eight months or so.

A water tank?

Yeah! [Laughs.] It’s like a big cement water tank that was being used for storage and we sort of gutted it out a bit more and carpeted ourselves and the acoustics we fixed with help from dudes at swamp.net.au. They gave us stuff to acoustically treat it and we basically mounted all these speakers on the walls and TVs and turned it into a studio.

That sounds amazing. RÜFÜS has taken this sort of DIY approach from the very beginning and you’ve done virtually everything independently. How has this independent route affected the music?

I suppose it has meant we’ve been able to do everything our own way. We haven’t had any real outside push or pull, which has been good for us to just sort of bullhead it. I dunno, we sort of just did it out of practicality to begin with – we just wanted to get our first EP out there and wrote it and recorded it ourselves in our bedroom and released it on our label that we made and sort of just followed that way of doing things. Even with the film clips, I’ve been getting my younger brother to make them all and the album artwork was made by my older brother who’s a graphic designer, so I guess we just have full control over it all.

Do you think you’ll keep it this way for your whole career? What if Interscope walked up to you with a record deal?

[Laughs.] I think the only way that we’d take anything else would be to have a similar control. I never know what’ll happen in the future but what I do know is that I want the same control.

Without the backing of a label you’ve managed to get quite a lot of attention online. Have you gotten used to the ongoing attention from the blogosphere yet?

I don’t know if ‘getting used to it’ is the right phrase – we get surprised every time it happens so we certainly haven’t gotten used to it – but it’s been pretty surreal the way the reactions have gone for some of the tracks. We’ve learnt a lot since we started and we feel like we’re continuing to push ourselves and I guess we’re seeing that rise in attention happening and it’s really rewarding for us.

I mean Desert Night is sitting at a casual 350,000 plays on SoundCloud at the moment, which isn’t too shabby.

I know, I know. It’s amazing. Really cool, really cool.

The label that gets thrown around when people describe your music is generally ‘indie dance’. Do you think that’s accurate enough?

I think it’s really hard to be accurate. I think that’s a good enough term when someone asks me when we’re at the airport what sort of music we play. It’s definitely the only answer I can give them because a lot of people understand ‘indie’ and that sort of conjures up images of guitars and drums, and then a ‘dance’ element to it. I suppose our sound is being refined all the time and this album has a definite electronic feel, but I still feel like the best term is ‘indie dance’ because I haven’t heard a better one. [Laughs.]

On that note of your sound’s refinement, how would you pinpoint the progression from your debut EP in 2011 to now with Atlas?

We’ve learnt a lot more and that’s not so much that our music has changed but we’ve been able to pull off ideas we haven’t been able to before, particularly in the studio with our production. But we’ve also refined what we like, and I guess that has come out in this album and our more recent work.

We worked out exactly what sort of music we all really enjoy and we tried to cut out any stuff that we settle for. We just want to come out with stuff we absolutely love so that’s what we’ve been trying to do and we’re really, really happy with everything on the album.

As well as your own headline shows, you’re also known for your DJ sets. Are these two aspects completely separate, or is there a sense of crossover between them?

They definitely inspire each other. When we’re touring live we’re definitely inspired by every act that we see and see it’s the same when we DJ. You have to do a lot of research to DJ to find the tracks you’re really digging or that are gonna work on the dance floor, so it’s definitely advantageous to know what works and we’ve definitely used our knowledge on that stuff now to really hit the points we want to on different songs and hopefully make some elements more dancey, and make some elements more withheld to tease or trick the audience.

What kind of DJs are you into?

Well I started off DJing before I started producing a few years ago and one of my favourite DJs has always been Claude VonStroke from dirtybird, and Justin Martin who’s another producer and DJ off that label who influenced the album a fair bit. We just saw Ricardo Villalobos in Moscow when we played over there and that really inspired the boys with the way people just responded to a really monotonous dance beat.

Maceo Plex, Claptone, Chris Malinchak, even Paul Kalkbrenner. But definitely Claude VonStroke would be on the top of that list – he can fucking work it. [Laughs.]

RÜFÜS has already become quite a regular name on the festival circuit even though you’ve been around for just over two years. What’s been the best festival experience so far?

I have to say, we played the Boiler Room at Big Day Out last year and that was just one of the craziest experiences I’ve ever had. We just had thousands of people running into the room as soon as they opened the big gates and it seemed like it didn’t stop the whole gig – it just kept filling up with people all going nuts. And yeah, we couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces.

Playing at Listen Out is the next big thing on your agenda. It’s the first one so it’s a bit hard to scope, but are you looking forward to it?

Yeah, I’m really pumped for that, it should be awesome. We’re actually touring in and around it so it’s going to be really full on for us but we’re really excited to play the new stuff.

Anyone on the lineup you’re keen to check out?

We can’t wait to check out Disclosure live. They’re obviously a big influence of ours. Who else is on the lineup? [Laughs.]

There’s Azealia Banks, Duke Dumont, TNGHT…

Yeah I mean Duke Dumont is another influence – we love playing his productions when we DJ, and Azealia Banks we just saw in Moscow a few weeks ago and she killed it actually – she really surprised us so it’ll be good to see her again for sure.

Looking to the future after this album release, what’s next on the schedule? Time to kick up your feet? 

Nah, I think we’re all really hungry to try and do everything we can to take all the opportunities we’ve been given so we’re just going to tour around Australia right up until March next year and maybe we’ll head over to the States – and then we’ll have to start writing album number two at some point! [Laughs.]

RÜFÜS’ debut album Atlas is out on August 9. In the meantime, stay posted via the band’s Facebook, Soundcloud and Twitter pages.