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Albury, Berlin, and the Caribbean: Interview with RÜFÜS

From opening Boiler Room sets at Big Day Out to sold-out parties in New York, Sydney trio RÜFÜS are making dance music waves says Lucy Hughes Jones


The name ‘Rufus’ on its own may not mean much – it could be your neighbour’s dog. But insert some umlauts and you’ve got the name of the rising indie dance trio from Sydney that is gaining serious global momentum.

Their album Atlas debuted at number one on the Australian charts this year and they’ve just wrapped up a sold out national tour. Discovered by the late DJ Ajax, schoolmates Jon George (keys/synths/percussion), Tryone Lindqvist (vocals/guitar) and James Hunt (drums) got together in 2010 to make music, and RÜFÜS was born.

“Basically the idea behind the name was to create something a bit exotic,” says drummer James Hunt. “We wanted a bold and foreign name that tied in with what we were trying to do with the album.”

The key focus of Atlas was to take the listener on a journey to other realms. The band gave each demo a working title that represented a different destination: ‘A’ for Albury came first, and ‘B’ for Berlin was next.

“Berlin actually ended up being Desert Night, ‘C’ was Caribbean which ended up being Take Me,” says Hunt, 23. “Each song was a little world that we wanted to create, and the whole album ended up being influenced by that.”

The three-piece wrote, recorded and produced Atlas themselves between two DIY studios decked out in unlikely places. They spent a month writing the original demos on a remote farmhouse in Berry last year, working into all hours of the night in a creative process that began to resemble shift-work. Then they mixed and recorded the tracks for nine months in a hollowed out water tank in Jon’s parent’s place in Cronulla.

“It was an old water tank that had been converted into a room, so we just DIY sound proofed it,” says Hunt. “Acoustically it wasn’t the best space because there were little bass pockets that would reverberate weirdly in particular parts, but it had a cool vibe about it.”

After four EPs, the refined RÜFÜS sound has reached a new calibre of maturity, with much influence stemming from their DJ-ing backgrounds.

The guys spent a month as resident DJs for Triple J’s Mix Up Exclusives earlier this year, and are becoming highly sought after for their remixing talents under the SÜFÜR moniker (RÜFÜS backwards).

While Hunt says their DJ sets are a fun opportunity to pay homage to their musical influences, “the live shows are a more expansive process.”

And while RÜFÜS wanted to travel in the studio, they’ve already been around the world this year, playing sold-out parties in New York and a main stage festival in Russia alongside Frank Ocean and Azealia Banks. And there’s plenty more to come.

“We’re looking at playing a few shows in December around Europe, mainly Berlin, Paris and the UK,” says Hunt. “And then next year we’re looking to do some shows in the US around March.”

One of the band’s goals is to move to Berlin next July for five months to absorb the music scene, but not before they play to some big home crowds this summer at The Falls Festival, Southbound and Big Day Out. Hunt says the trio has come a long way since they opened the Boiler Room for Big Day Out at 11AM last year with no one to play to.

“We just started playing the first song anyway, and about 20 seconds in they opened the gates and all these wet screaming teenagers just wanting to get out of the rain stormed towards the stage,” says Hunt.

“Towards the end of the set there was still a mass of people running… it was pretty surreal. And at that point we hadn’t played to a crowd nearly that big, so we were just laughing to ourselves on stage thinking ‘what the fuck is going on?’”

RÜFÜS are playing the Falls Festival dates in Marion Bay, Lorne and Byron Bay over the new years period.