For years, the question has plagued me.
Why RÜFÜS? Why?
I finally gotten hold of the Sydney trio’s lead singer, the superbly named Tyrone Lindqvist, and demanded he answer my seemingly unexplainable query.
‘Tyrone, why does every 18-24 year old girl who listens to triple j occasionally go absolutely bonkers for RÜFÜS?’
After a prolonged chuckle, Tyrone replies slyly
‘Oh I don’t know man.’
‘Tyrone, don’t be coy with me. What is your secret? How do you do it?’
Another prolonged chuckle.
The nerve of the man.
‘I think if I knew, we would be in trouble, I definitely have no idea, but that’s flattering.’
Alas, my search for an answer continues.
Since Tyrone was scheduled to endure 20 minutes of my demands, I felt it only necessary that I oblige and ask him about RÜFÜS’ upcoming record, Bloom.
The trio’s second album was written between their hometown Sydney and Berlin. Arguably the world’s epicentre for electronic music, Tyrone explained to me how the German capital ‘massively inspired’ Bloom.
‘The reason we chose Berlin is that a lot of our favourite acts are from there. Berlin is the centre of Europe, you have a lot of acts travelling through, you’re in the hub of it all and it’s hard not to be influenced. Musically for us, the percussion on this record and a lot of the grooves are a nod to the tech style of music that’s over there.’
When in Berlin, the trio had the opportunity to meet German electronic veterans Booka Shade, one of RÜFÜS’ chief influences.
So much so, that the earliest beginnings of RÜFÜS were born when Tyrone and Jon (synth) met and bonded over a mutual love for the duo.
‘We were like ‘fuck lets make a song like that’ and we dove in and made 'We Left' in a night, we thought this was cool and then we started.’
“So when we were in Berlin, we got the chance to see Booka’s studio and we met them and had the chance to rattle their brains, and just talk shit really. They’re the nicest guys and you can tell they’ve been in the game for a while.’
Obviously, one cannot talk about Berlin's electronic music scene without questioning one’s longest session Berghain.
‘I think I only lasted 14 hours, but our manager, Jon and our sound guy lasted 23 hours or so’
Not bad. 7/10.
The second album is a significant mark in an artist’s career, for oftentimes it demonstrates how artists work to develop their craft and realise their potential.
In short, if you nail the second album you can turn into a global sensation (see: Tame Impala), but if you screw it up you could be over quicker than you can say ‘Hey, where did that band Jet go?’
Tyrone elaborated how he thought RÜFÜS has evolved over the years in the lead up for their second record.
‘The ability to make a sound that you hear, and being able to know where to start to make that sound is one of the biggest things.’
‘When we were doing Atlas, you would hear something on someone else’s record and we would say ‘lets try and make that’ and we didn’t really know where to start, it could take us hours. Now, that we’ve been doing this a bit more, it’s definitely come so much easier, so now when we hear a sound, we know where to start.’
I still wondered if RÜFÜS felt bound to the boundaries of dance music. As in, no matter what direction they went in for Bloom, the group had to adhere to the bottom line of having a certain level of ‘dance-ability’.
‘Inherently a lot of the music we listen to is dance music and electronic music, but even then, some of that isn’t necessarily music you would dance to. Like Caribou’s album wasn’t a album that you could dance to, but that was a big album, we’re just trying make music that we want to make.’
‘I don’t see us as a flat out dance act, I see us as 3 guys in a studio making music and then we take it to the live stage. The next step could be no kick, who knows?’
‘I think Rufus will always be the core of what it is, as essentially it’s 3 guys with different tastes in music mashing together into one little project. Like this album from the last album is definitely different from the last one, but the core aesthetic remains the same.’
In the lead up to the release of Bloom, RÜFÜS were awarded with their first ARIA for ‘You Were Right’ as Best Dance Track. Surely winning an ARIA had to bolster Tyrone’s confidence before dropping the record.
‘I mean I don’t know, but you can’t really plan or pay for that, so in terms of coming into a record, we’ve never won an ARIA before so it can only be good.’
With an ARIA to show for ‘You Were Right’, the 3rd single that RÜFÜS decided release in the build up to Bloom was the 9-minute slow burning epic ‘Innerbloom’. In terms of gaining radio traction, releasing a 9-minute long single is a conventionally odd move. However, the trio sought solace and influence in the success of Tame Impala’s ‘Let It Happen’, which clocks in at over 7 minutes.
Nevertheless, if ‘Let It Happen’ wasn’t successful, or wasn’t released as a single at all, would RÜFÜS still have dropped ‘Innerbloom’ as a single?
‘Not sure, that’s a hard one, cause that opened up the door.’
‘I got really excited with Let It Happen, I thought ‘fuck that is ground breaking.’ Like musically and it was really cool, I love Tame Impala but that felt like a step in a different direction and was really exciting. If the first two singles did well, say they got added to triple j and got a positive response, then we were going to release a song that was a homage to Berlin, and that song is ‘Innerbloom’.’
I thought to myself that this was interesting glimpse to how artists influence each other not only musically, but in the business world as well.
RÜFÜS’ rise to success has been in large part to their reputation as live performers, particularly on the festival scene. In the last 3 years, RÜFÜS have played seemingly everywhere on the Australian festival circuit. I asked Tyrone if their prolific schedule was due to the potential marketing and financial benefits that festivals offer.
‘I mean maybe, but that’s definitely not why we do it. I love festivals, I’ve been going to festivals since I was legally allowed to…well before I was legally allowed to.’
‘Having done festivals growing up and having such a love for it, for us getting to get on a stage, we get to re live it through everyone. I look at the people in the front row and I was that guy, whether they’re off their face or smiling and singing along to every song.’
‘You’re definitely aware of what it can do marketing wise, but that is definitely not why we choose to do…Especially with smaller festivals, it’s not like they’re going to be able to give you some ground breaking sum of money, they give you the opportunity to play in front of a crowd that you love.’
RÜFÜS live shows are bolstered with their expansive live setting, which features a mixture of live and digital instrumentation.
‘I got into electronic music by getting into The Presets and Cut Copy and they did a little bit of live instrumentation with dance music and that crossover was really exciting. So when we planned our live show that was a distinct choice. We wanted to have a live aesthetic on stage, and we find that exciting.’
‘I love watching DJs play but there is a certain unpredictability with bands that is really exciting.’
In the dance world, collaborations are as frequently seen as 808s and drum breaks. With the exception of 'Hypnotised', which features Jon’s girlfriend Dena Amy on vocals, RÜFÜS have kept all their music in house.
‘To be honest it’s just us 3 guys, we all produce record and write. Kind of like a kitchen, if you have too many chefs in there, it just gets confusing. For some reason, the three of us in there seems nice, it’s a real healthy mix. We’re not against collaborating, but not for the sake of collaborating and getting a name on board, but rather for mixing it up for something different.’
‘We have lot of material in us for this record, we went through the alphabet 3 times, I can’t even do the math of how many songs that is, but it’s not like we were stale of material and needed the inspiration of collaborating.’
So now with their second record done and dusted, where does RÜFÜS head now?
Tyrone shudders at the thought.
‘I have no idea, I’m just so stoked that we’ve finished the record, no one has had enough time to process this record. I can’t even comprehend doing another record at the moment, but I’m sure we will.’
As the final minutes of our interview draw to a close, Tyrone and I talked shop about our mutual love for Byron Bay. Naturally I asked him the all-important Byron Bay question that shows a man’s true colours.
‘So Tyrone, do you prefer Bay Kebabs or Abrakebabra?’
‘Um, I don’t eat kebabs man…maybe a falafel or something.’
And then I hung up.
Bloom is out on January 22.
Alex Capper, once affectionally called by Ross & John of 3AW as the '7 foot fucker', loves the Essendon Football Club, stalking reddit and dabbing. He thinks he can speak French, but he can't.