Sydney’s indie dance/dream pop darlings, RUFUS, have had an illustrious introduction to life as professional musicians. Multiple sold-out tours in Australia have been augmented by some seriously neat gigs overseas including a number of big-ticket parties in New York City. When we speak, James Hunt of RUFUS is preparing for their hotly anticipated album launch.
But what does it actually mean when the album Atlas drops? What does Hunt expect on D-Day? “There will be a pretty massive sense of relief,” he says. “We’ve been sitting on the mastered record for a few months now so once it’s out there we’ll be able to really let go of it. We’re really keen for people to get their hands on it. The response while it was the triple j feature album was really positive which makes us even more excited.”
While it’s all fun and games to be the latest industry fave, things can turn when critics attack, and although RUFUS make music for themselves, once you release something for other people it’s natural there’ll be criticism and celebration – often in unequal measures. “We’re all totally ready for that,” says Hunt. “The process of writing music is pretty personal for us and we write completely to our own tastes, so for other people to connect to it is a separate process entirely. We’re very open to critical reception. It comes with the territory I guess – mixed reactions are to be expected.”
Theirs is a dreamy and exalting flavour of music; it drips of summer and afternoon breezes, and their sound on Atlas has a lot to do with the locale in which it was written. “We started writing on a farm in Berry, where we would wake up to sunshine every morning and we’d spend our lunch breaks playing tennis and listening to our favourite albums on full blast. I’d say that had a lot to do with the general feeling and vibe of the tracks from a very early stage. When we were evolving the demos throughout the recording process, we were constantly trying to take ourselves to other places and worlds within our studio. The whole vibe with the music we were making during this time was for it to transport you somewhere unique, strange or exotic. This in turn shaped the lyrical direction and the emotive content of the tracks.”
Given that RUFUS’ music is so technically crafted, a little insight into their gear of choice seems only appropriate. “We were playing around with a bunch of hard synths in the early stages – an SH-101, an Oberheim Xpander and a Minimoog,” Hunt says. “But we were borrowing these off friends so we only had them for a limited time. What was really useful for us was purchasing Native Instruments Komplete. There were some really accessible synths and samplers which made a huge difference to our writing process, and allowed us to bash ideas out really quickly without losing the initial spark. We probably found some of the more iconic sounds of the record playing around with these synths as well.”
The thing most notable with RUFUS’ releases thus far is their ability to channel the organic and freeform energy of dance music into the confines of an accessible song structure. “I guess it comes down to the kind of influences that we draw upon when we write,” Hunt explains. “For Atlas we were referencing artists like Booka Shade, Claude Vonstroke, Mujuice and Trentemøller amongst many others. By the same token, we really try to keep a pop sensibility and awareness of structure, and we try to pick our moments of conciseness and when to indulge a little bit.”
BY KRISSI WEISS