A&E » Music

Hermitude reaches for the top of Australia's music charts

DJ and producer perform at Moe Joe's on May 28



Luke Dubs and El Gusto, a.k.a. Australian electronic music and hip-hop duo Hermitude, are part of a wave of musicians from Down Under who have been gaining popularity in North America in recent years.

Of course, Whistler is a special case. Antipodeans have long lived and worked here and have helped the resort succeed, so there's a ready-made, knowledgeable audience. We host musicians from that part of the world to keep everyone happy, fill our pubs and clubs... and because the music is excellent.

"We're just starting to tour North America more frequently and we're loving it," says Dubs. "Canada in particular is a place I've always wanted to visit, so being able to come up this way and share our music as well is a huge blessing for us."

The guys in Hermitude perform at Moe Joe's in Whistler on Thursday, May 28.

Dubs says: "It's quite an interactive show and high energy so we hope Whistler is ready to get down with us, we've heard good things about you!" 

Hermitude's latest album Dark Night Sweet Light has placed no. 2 on the Australian iTunes charts for several weeks running in May.

"It's amazing! The initial response to this record has been phenomenal," says Dubs.

"We're super excited to see what the future holds." 

If its review in the Sydney Morning Herald is anything to go by, the future is even brighter, with reviewer Bernard Zuel saying that Dark Night Sweet Light feels like a no. 1 album, "with squiggly electronic sounds next to spare hip-hop; open sky soundscapes alongside grooves you could lose your mother, dog and shopping in; (and) hand-on-heart R&B that wouldn't be out of place buffing a Jay-Z album."

Time will tell.

Dubs says the album grew out of reflecting on experiences of the last couple years while on tour and in the studio.

"The result is some dark moody tracks and also some bright shiny tracks too," says Dubs.

"It's an extension of (Hermitude's 2012 Australian Music Prize-winning album) HyperParadise, but it's a bit more minimal which is what we set out to do. We tried to go with a less-is-more attitude and not clutter up the music too much."

He says one track, "Through the Roof," from Dark Night Sweet Light bridges the past three years since their last release.

"It has that sampley vibe of the last record, but rhythmically it's in line with the new record," says Dubs. "My personal favourite track off the album would either be "The Buzz" or "Searchlight Reprise."

Dubs and El Gusto were playing in various bands together in their home region in the Blue Mountains near Sydney in 1994. They started hanging out and realized they were both making their own beats at home.

Collaborating seemed like a natural fit. What's a little unusual is that they were kids, Dubs was 16 and El Gusto was just 11.

Both came from musical families; their fathers were both in bands.

"We wouldn't be where we are today without the support of our families," Dubs says. "All those years of going to our dads' gigs and sliding across the dance floor on our knees when we were young really paid off!"  

They were considered part of the hip-hop fringes and are these days known for trying to make music of quality over quantity.

For those who don't know them, Dubs says Hermitude, "basically recreates all of our music live using samplers, drum pads, synths and turntables."

Told that Billboard described Hermitude as "a group North American music fans will run into at festivals this summer," Dubs is thrilled.

"That's awesome! We're honoured to be playing some huge festivals this summer both in Canada and in the U.S., and are looking forward to getting amongst it and meeting some crew and soaking up the North American festival vibes," he says. 

This will be followed by a tour of Australia, which Dubs says takes them to a new level.

"It's a huge tour for us, our biggest yet," he says.

"We're not holding back on this one, big venues, big production and big vibes. It's the first official tour for the new record so vibes are very high.

"We work in the studio five days a week. We treat it like a job and get in a good flow as we feel it's the best way to hone your craft."

So, unsurprisingly, when asked what Hermitude has on the horizon, Dubs says, "more music, collabs and lots of touring!"  

OK, fine. But what does Hermitude like to do for down time?

"Gus is a footballer and barbecuer of fine ribs," says Dubs. "And me? I'm a golfing, tennis, and foosball-playing retro video game addict."