Ahead of their UTS debut, Hermitude’s Angus ‘Elgusto’ Stuart and Luke ‘Dubs’ Dubber chat to Greta Balog.
Angus ‘Elgusto’ Stuart and Luke ‘Dubs’ Dubber of Australian hip hop duo Hermitude didn’t expect sell out shows when they announced their national tour, The Villain. And now, with only six weeks until the tour kicks off, the pair have announced even more shows around the country.
“There’s been such a great response to this tour,” Stuart tells Vertigo. “We’ve just been kind of overwhelmed with the reception of these tour dates.”
“Originally it was one show in each city, but Sydney and Melbourne, the ticket sales were so amazing. The first show sold out about six weeks from the actual show so we thought we’re just going to have to add more shows.”
As well as playing three shows at Oxford Art Factory, Hermitude is performing at UTS’ O’ Week event, O’ Fest. But according to Stuart, this is just the beginning of another year that will hopefully be as chaotic and successful as 2012.
Last year, indie radio station FBi named Hermitude their most played artist of 2012, following the release of critically acclaimed record, Hyperparadise. They even managed to land the 18th spot in Triple J’s Hottest 100. Now unless you’ve been living under a soundproof rock for the past few months, you would know that electro artist, Flume, who was dubbed one of the breakout stars of 2012, remixed the title track.
“His version is awesome and it just took off and became a massive song,” says Stuart.
Over the past year, Dubs and Elgusto have also received a range of nominations and awards. Hyperparadise won Best Independent Dance/Electronic album at the Australian Independent Records Association Awards (AIR) and the duo won Best Live Music Act at FBi Radio’s Sydney Music, Arts & Culture Awards (SMAC). More recently, the duo has been shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize along with Flume, Tame Impala, The Presets and others.
Hermitude joined the local hip hop scene in 2000 with the launch of their vinyl-only EP, Imaginary Friends. The esoteric vibe of the record had the band putting their most interesting foot forward and is now a sought-after collector’s item.
“We grew up in the Blue Mountains and when we started writing this type of music we basically locked ourselves away in a studio,” Stuart explains. “It was in the bush and isolated and we were kind of just in a state of Hermitude.”
Stuart and Dubber enjoy a broad range of musical styles and love traveling the world within their music. Early on in their career, the boys stretched their horizons, dabbling in Cuban beats and oriental undertones.
“When I was about fifteen, I went to Cuba with my father and we spent about a month in Havana studying percussion over there,” Stuart tells Vertigo.
“‘Nightfall’s Messenger’ came from a Japanese record and yeah, we just like to keep our ears open and we’re into a lot of different styles and this just comes through in the music when you make it.”
Over the years, Hermitude has graced the stages of music festivals like Groovin’ the Moo, Woodford Festival, Homebake and Rhythm and Alps (NZ).
“One of our favourites was Woodford Festival up in Queensland. It’s just such a great vibe up there. Also Groovin’ the Moo Festival was so fun ‘cause we got to go to all the regional places we don’t normally get to go to… [and] they really look after you as well. Also there’s a festival in Berlin called Fusion Festival that we played at last year, which was just insane. It was really cool. In Perth we played over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Eve is my birthday so I got sung ‘Happy Birthday’ by about 5000 people.”
In the studio, the pair work relentlessly on their material. Being multi-instrumentalists, they have the advantage of being able to share the music-making process.
“It’s pretty equal. We generally write together all the time. We have a studio in Leichhardt and we just come in every day and we sit down and look at each other and go ‘what do we want to write today?’ and maybe I’ll kick out a beat and Dubs will start twinklin’ on some synthesisers and we’ll just go from there. We do a lot of everything.”
Along with creating their own innovative material, Hermitude have collaborated with the likes of electronic duo, The Presets, and hip hop MC, Urthboy.
“Doing The Presets remix was really fun. ‘Ghost Track’ is an awesome song in itself. Having someone’s music in the palm of your hands is a privilege. It’s kind of like being given a gem of a song and being able to sort of put your own tastes and little styles into it. That was a really fun experience doing that and we really like their stuff. So it was really cool for us to be able to take one of their songs and rearrange it.”
“Working with Urthboy is always really great. We’ve worked with him for a long time and doing the Smokey’s Haunt album with him was really fun. We went down to Melbourne and we all sacked up in Bounce’s Studio and we just had a whole bunch of sessions where we just wrote heaps of ideas and then we took all those ideas and pushed them out over a number of months. We just love working with Tim [Urthboy]. It’s really nice to work with a rapper and stuff. Hermitude’s all instrumental so it was fun for us to work with a vocalist.”
According to Stuart, having good influences is one thing, but creating a groove of your own is another.
“I think a really good thing to do is to try develop your own sound. So obviously you take influence from different artists and everything but one of the best steps you can take, I think, is to develop your own thing because in the end that’s what is going to set you apart from everyone else and make you unique.”
Hermitude played at O’ Fest on February 22.