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Despite hordes of fans and a rigorous touring schedule, Hermitude is a rather appropriate name for the electronic duo. While some musicians prefer to have streams of people in and out of the studio, wheeling in ideas and impressions by the barrowful, Luke Dubber and Angus Stuart are much more content sealing themselves away to see what they can conjure on their own.
“For a long time there we were kind of fumbling around in the dark,” Dubber reflects. He is a speaker who commands your full attention; while his words are clear, the man talks a mile a minute.
“We’d finished recording HyperParadise and finished touring, and it’s an exciting time. You’re not really sure what you’re going to do next, you’re free with an open canvas. So you come in and dick around, which is all good and fun, but at some point you start thinking you need to lock down what the record is going to be, and it gets kind of tricky to navigate through the endless ideas that are in your head.
“You eventually get to a point where you say, ‘Right, we want the record to sound like…’” he considers, “bacon sizzling, or chicken sandwiches. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just has to be a direction you can steer the ship towards. I think we found that direction maybe a year or so after mucking around. Once we found that, the songs started forming a lot quicker. But it can always work in various ways. Sometimes you come in with a really simple idea of what you want to do and you do the opposite. Sometimes the idea reveals itself to you, and sometimes you have to be dictating it all from the beginning. This one was a lot of experimenting and out of that came a couple of tracks that made us want to follow that direction, and so that’s what we did. From there it all just started to happen.”
Hermitude’s newest album Dark Night Sweet Light has been out for around six months, and as Dubber and Stuart soon found on its headline tour, it allows for a certain level of freedom on stage – which they’ll be sure to revisit for their upcoming Festival Hall show.
“It feels like it flows naturally, but we have to keep in mind the kind of reputation we’ve earned over the few years since HyperParadise, which is for quite a high-energy set,” Dubber explains.
“The headline show will probably be a little more dynamic, and gives us the opportunity to do some of the quiet ones as well – to take the time to take people on a bit of a journey. We’re trying to organise some improvised moments into the set as well, where we don’t really have a set structure. We’ll go in and just psych out on some crazy sounds. We want it to be an interesting set, but have enough of everything to keep everyone happy. Have some full banging segments, and some chilled stuff.”
Whatever the shape of their sets, it’ll be a welcome break in the drought for Hermitude fans the world over. HyperParadise dropped at the start of 2012, after a four-year break. Dark Night Sweet Light arrived just over three years later and has drawn on all of the experience that comes with touring, recording, and perhaps most importantly, the recognition of when to scrap something. Dubber suspects there are hundreds of unreleased fledgling, Hermitude songs and cast-aside beats; tracks that could never find their feet or were cannibalised into something larger.
“It’s good to write as much as you can, even if you’re away,” he says. “HyperParadise was written entirely in Sydney. It had been around four years since the last record, so we were long off the radar. But this latest period has been the real test. It’s not like you have to write a masterpiece in the back of a van – or at least, it wasn’t for us.”
It’s too soon to speculate about where Hermitude might move from here. In truth, they don’t seem to have a clear idea themselves, but that’s all part of the thrill. Though, in two years time, once the album is released and these shows have concluded, who knows? There are, after all, those hundreds of half-songs still floating around, crying out for assembly.
“We just listened to a few of them the other day,” Dubber says. “You go into the folder, listen to old songs and be transported into whatever head-space you were in that day. And you know, there are always a couple of good ones. A handful who were close contenders, and then a whole bunch of what the fuck were we thinking. There’s definitely some there that we’ll do something with at some stage. We’ve already thrown out a lot of them already. It’s a bit like hoarding in a way. Every so often you have to empty out the hard drive and ditch all of these weird and random things you’ve been holding onto. But there’s definitely some close-calls there, or songs that just weren’t suited to a particular record. Maybe they’ll be resurrected. One day.”
Written by Adam Norris
When & Where: Festival Hall, Melbourne – November 28