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How sheer isolation and a shaman shaped RÜFÜS DU SOL’s breathtaking new album

On first listen the architecture of Solace is much the same as RÜFÜS DU SOL’s two previous records – immense electronic soundscapes paired with gorgeous, otherworldly melodies.

But beneath the familiar heaving rhythms and euphoric chords are unmistakable twinges of melancholy that we’re not used to hearing from the three-piece:

I’m stuck underwater
I just need some space/
My friend, it’s not what you wanted
But I just need a change

18 months ago the boys from Sydney’s northern beaches flew the nest and moved to LA to write their third EP.

Shacked up in a house-cum-studio on Rose Avenue in Venice Beach, the band (along with partners and managers) began the year-long process of developing the album.

From studio shamans to existential writing trips in Joshua Tree National Park, every part of RÜFÜS DU SOL’s migration echoes through the record.

The sense of isolation, the inevitable growing pains, and the breathtaking vastness of the Californian desert inextricably shape Solace, and we were lucky enough to speak to Jon about the new EP.

Rufus at Lost Paradise

RÜFÜS DU SOL’s unforgettable headline spot at Lost Paradise 2018.

I want to start with this Shaman I’ve heard so much about…

Yeah, it’s funny because people keep asking me, and it happened out of the blue. He’s a mutual friend, and he came to a welcome drinks that we were having in our new place in LA.

Oh, and he travels with a compass and notepad and pen in each pocket wherever he goes. Anyway, he was at the party just walking around the studio, taking notes and working out the direction of flow, and just really getting into trying to vibe out the place. B

Basically we had a four-bedroom house set up in LA, with a really nice pool outside, and by the pool there’s the studio space, and it was a really cool and professional studio, but there was just no vibe. It was just a dead space, and so once we had all our equipment in there, that’s when he decided to come and start working on it.

We had him over many nights in a row, and he decked it out with all these different materials and lights, and each wall would have a different theme.

There was an underwater wall, a desert wall, and he’d have seashells on the ground, and the branches from Joshua Tree, so it ended up being a really cool playground inside the studio.

Did getting out of studio space change the way you guys approached the record?

Yeah, exactly, we’re always inspired by different landscapes and themes in that way, so it definitely helps to have any visual stimulation like that to escape a bit.

But for me the best thing was being able to just wake up and enter a new world when you went into the studio – that was just really cool by itself.

You also headed off to Joshua Tree National Park on a writing trip. What was that like? Was it a ‘take peyote in the desert and find yourself’ kinda thing?

I guess we were maybe three-quarters of the way through the album, and we had a bunch of songs that we needed to finish some lyrics for and so we thought it would be cool to sit out there in the desert, wander around, have a good think and come up with some lyrics together.

We also brought some synths as well so we ended up also just writing a new song, and that’s when we came up with ‘Lost In My Mind’. We pretty much wrote the whole song and the lyrics in one night.

Are there any other dream locations you’d like to go for inspiration?

I think it would be cool to be in the mountains somewhere, I think anywhere with a vast landscape is exciting.

We bought some new synthesisers for this new album and we really play around with the sonic world by just staying with one synthesiser and revving it right up and bringing it right back down. And that sort of reminds me of those big landscapes and the emotion that they can draw.

Lyrically Solace is a bit more vulnerable, a bit more melancholy and a bit more reflective than previous albums – what prompted that?

Yeah, I guess when we started writing the album we were so excited to get back into the studio that we didn’t really leave ourselves any time off and I feel like halfway through the writing process we started to burn ourselves out a fair bit.

It’s like a loop that you just keep bringing yourself through, and inevitably you put your personal life on hold and it all starts to catch up with you.

Just missing that connection with family back home, not really getting to hang around with your girlfriend or any part of your life that you’re shelving away for a moment.

That all starts to catch up with you, and that was the case for us.

We just had this space in the studio to have that cathartic experience of talking about it in the album, and being able to draw on those feelings and emotions.

You guys have spoken about making this next tour more ambitious than anything you’d ever done before. What are you guys doing this tour around that’s pushing the limits?

It’s just been a lot of fun rebuilding the new show because we have so much more material and we get to curate this journey and experience how we would like to feel ourselves at a show.

So we had a lot of fun being able to come up with that and work out ways to be able to link songs together. And because we’re doing so many shows in a row in different places, we’ve built in the ability to be able to change the set list up each night, add different covers and different jams, and that’s making it a lot of fun for us on stage.

And then we’ve got a whole new lighting rig, it looks so amazing. It’s been cool being able to play the shows and test them out here in America before coming to Australia.

RÜFÜS DU SOL’s new album ‘Solace’ is out now and they’re taking their live show around the country in 2019 – more info here if you’re keen.

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