Interview with Hermitude by acid stag

Interview with Hermitude

words by Tanya Bonnie Rae

The 2016 Laneway Festival series is almost upon us, and if you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to this year’s event you probably would have noticed that Aussie electro hip-hop duo Hermitude will be playing at one of its stages.

Ahead of this we have been lucky enough to score some one-on-one time with Angus Stuart aka “El Gusto”, and this is what went down.

Can you tell me a bit about your first band Funk Injection, and how that project came about?
“It was basically with me and Luke Dubs, and my sister who plays bass. We kind of grew up playing music together and we just formed our own band, and it was in the early days where we played a lot of instrumental music – funk, soul, reggae and jazz. That’s where Luke and I connected musically before we started producing, and it was pretty much when we were doing that side project, when Hermitude was spawned.”

Who were some of your earliest influences in terms of music?
“Early influences would have to be people like Portishead – I guess that was part of that UK/Bristol trip-hop sound, that and some of the UK stuff on the Ninja Tune label like The Herbaliser and those types of artists.”

I’ve read in previous interviews that you noted artists such as Bonobo, as a musical inspiration, how do you think his particular sound has inspired you as an artist?
“I guess there was a lot of use of samples and it was that idea of kind of collage artist – that was a big inspiration for us. I think of lot of that was in digging and finding really cool sounds and samples, and I guess the whole idea of building worlds that you could immerse yourself in musically.”

Your track ‘Hyperparadise’ was awarded the 8th Annual Australian Music Prize, with the AMP website quoting “It’s not just their meticulousness in production and musicianship, it’s the passion and love they have for instrumental music that makes them so special. The songs are bubbling with personality: choruses leap out of songs demanding an emotional response, differing for each listener.” – what do you think is it about your music that people feel this overwhelming connection with?
“That was for the album Hyperparadise, and personally I’m glad that people do have that connection with our music and it goes back to what we were saying about Bonobo – is that we like to try and tell a story with each song and take people on a bit of a journey with the music. It doesn’t just tell you where to go, you can kind of go where it feels right for you. I think that’s one of the special things about instrumental music and how we’ve connected with people from all different places around the world – because there’s no barrier in terms of language.”

Hermitude recently partnered with triple j to give an aspiring artist the chance to remix your song ‘Ukiyo’ – how did this idea come about?
“To be honest it was something that triple j really wanted to do with us. They’ve been great supporters of our music and they really loved that track ‘Ukiyo’. They actually hit us up, they were like “Hey we’ve got this idea and we think you guys would be perfect for it with this song” and we were like “Yeah that’s actually a really dope idea”. It’s a really nice thing to allow up and coming artists to be able to remix one of our songs and it highlights how much talent there is bubbling away in the underground. People who are unknown can get out there and really showcase their skills – it was a really enjoyable process.”

Do you see Hermitude ever going back to a more experimental/funk sound, or branching out across other genres of music other than electronic and hip-hop?
“I don’t think we’ll ever go back to what we were doing, but we’re continually wanting to move forward and expand and grow as musicians. That means taking steps outside your boundaries and really exploring new sounds and styles. I think that’s how Hermitude has always evolved and our latest album ‘Dark Night, Sweet Light’ sounds nothing like our first record, ‘Alleys to Valleys’ – but we’re proud of that. We don’t ever want to repeat ourselves, and it’s an exciting thing as a musician or a producer, to continually explore.

Other than music, is there anything else that inspires you or your sound?
“I love just going to the movies and being immersed by a story. You get the soundtrack, which makes you feel things, you get the plot and the acting and the visuals. I feel like it’s one of the ultimate forms of art where you’ve kind of got a bit of everything. I find that medium, as well as books, very inspiring. The way people can take you on a journey through just words in a book, and it really takes you somewhere. Travelling is really inspiring for us as well, experiencing other cultures is really important. Otherwise I feel like we might just get really bored and our music might be really boring [laughs]”.

Are there any local Australian artists that you’re interested in working with in the future?
“Sure, Sampa The Great she’s awesome. I loved that mixtape she dropped. Jones Jnr. from Sydney – they’re a producer and a singer and they do really nice soul stuff, so I’m looking forward to working with those guys.”

Where do you think the future of Australian music is headed?
“I feel like Australian music has really started to take hold of its identity. It’s not worrying too much about what the rest of the world is doing and just doing it’s own thing. Whenever we’re in the States, a lot of people comment on how much great music is coming out of Australia, and not just electronic music but rock and indie music. Our scene has just taken off and we’re looking at each other and we’re vibing off what what’s happening here and that’s really spurring people on, and now the rest of the world is taking notice of that.”

Congratulations on playing Laneway Festival this year, who are you most keen to see perform?
“Thanks! Yeah I’m pretty damn keen to see The Internet, and also Grimes, Vince Staples – he’s dope, Hud-Mo – we’re big fans of Hud-Mo, and Thundercat. Also the DMA’s.”

Last of all, what’s next for Hermitude?
“We’re back on the road a lot this year, we’re going to be touring a whole heap, both internationally and nationally. But we’ve also got a bit of time before everything pops off to start writing a lot more music. So we’re going to start the bones of the next record.”

There are still a few Laneway Festival tickets available, but I would recommend getting onto that asap because they will sell out across the board – they always do!

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