Interview | RÜFÜS

Following up their breakthrough debut album Atlas (2013)Sydney trio RÜFÜS release their highly anticipated sophomore album Bloom next week. Fresh from their performance at Falls Festival, we had a chat to RÜFÜS’ Jon George (keys) about how Bloom came together. 

How’s your day been so far?
Yeah good. I’m extremely exhausted though, we were up til 7am filming a new video so I’ve been having a bit of a snooze this morning. I’m still with you though, I’m not going to fall asleep.

Which song are you filming it for?
‘Say A Prayer For Me’. 

That’s exciting. So Bloom’s out in a couple of weeks and the tracks 
you’ve released so far have had a really warm reception. You must be pretty excited about putting the rest out there,  how are you feeling about it all?
Yeah we’re so excited to get it out there, it’s been in our hands for a while now. I can’t believe it’s nearly D-Day and people are going to be able to hear it all for themselves. Yeah, like you said, everything’s been so cool the reactions to the songs so far. We couldn’t have really hoped for a better lead up in terms of excitement for the album. I think there’s a lot of new and different things on the album that people might not be expecting. I’m really excited to see how that all goes down.

Atlas put you guys on the international stage and debuted at number 1 in Australia, did you feel any pressure, external or internal, going back to record another album, to back it up I guess?
We didn’t at all. Basically now that we’re doing all of this press stuff and leading into the album dropping, this is the first time that it’s been put in my mind that there was any pressure getting into the studio to write. We’d been touring for two years after Atlas and we were just so excited and had a lot of energy to be back in the studio. We were lucky that weren’t in that kind of headspace. We just isolated ourselves and wrote.

You guys toured Atlas extensively as you mentioned, then wrote in a couple of locations in Europe, like a cottage in Suffolk and then spent two months in Berlin writing, do you feel like your environment when these songs were coming together impacted them sonically? Atlas is a very summery album in comparison.
Yeah totally, Atlas has a very specific almost Australian summer sound for me and I can place where I was and it brings back all these feelings and the sounds of the coastline of New South Wales. Whereas I think being in Europe for the time that we were, I think there were a couple of elements that come together there. Basically being away from friends and family and being isolated in a new country. There’s this feeling throughout the record of a push and pull feeling of coming home or waiting to come home and missing friends and family and joining back up with them again. I think that really took a place on the album. Secondly, being in Berlin, we saw so much music there, we were going out a lot. We were writing way more than we were going out, but it was just easy to walk down the road to Watergate or Berghain and just a few cheeky hours on the dance floor and have a couple of beers and relax then be inspired and go back to writing when we got back to our apartment. I think the sonics of the album are reflective of that, it turns into the memories production and the sonics that we’re writing.

This time around it will be a simultaneous global release via Foreign Family Collective, how did you guys come to work with Odesza and their label?
When we were touring Atlas in Australia, we invited Odesza to play with us at one of the Enmore shows because they didn’t have much of a following over here. Then we just became good friends with them, they’re friends first and foremost. We went over and supported them on their tour in America. We’d talked about working together in some capacity for the last two years and we played them the album and they were super excited about it. I think they could do a lot for us in terms of getting our music out over there.

Last year was a pretty jam packed year of touring both in Australia and the states, including a nearly sold out national tour back in October, then the US and Canada, what’s the response been like to the new material playing it in a live setting?
Yeah it was super cool to see the reactions to the new songs. In particular, ‘Innerbloom’ wasn’t out yet while we were on that tour and seeing people so heavily affected by that song. We were playing ‘Say A Prayer For Me’ and just seeing their honest reactions to these songs – they were judging whether they liked it or not – we had such a true and positive response to that material and people were crying at the end of ‘Innerbloom’ and they hadn’t even heard it before. It was pretty awesome.

Have you ever used those experiences when putting together a record – deciding which tracks make the cut based on audience reactions?
Yeah, it’s a really interesting way to do it. We’ve done that for sure in the past. When we were doing Atlas, with ‘Desert Night’ and ‘Take Me’ we played different versions of them and worked out where there was maybe a lull in the energy of the track. You can judge more about the song itself by playing it to people like that. I think that’s a pretty cool way to do it. I think we might not have finished ‘Say A Prayer For Me’ and ‘Tell Me’ and we were playing a different version of them on the tour and now that we’ve finished them all up, it’s reaffirmed their position.

You guys just performed at Falls festival a couple weeks ago, how did you find the whole festival experience?
So cool. We had such a good time. They were probably the best shows of our lives so far. It was insane. I think we’ve played to that many people before in different circumstances at different festivals, to 15,000 people or more. These were just easily 10,000 squeezed up against the barrier from front to back, totally engaged and wanting to be there with hands in the air right to the back. We had such a good time.

You’ve also just been added to the Coachella line up which is huge…
Yeah so stoked. It’s a crazy dream gig. I can’t believe we’re doing it actually. Whenever people have asked me since the beginning, even in the last few years, what my dream gig would be, it’s always been Coachella for me. I went as a punter a few years ago and had a great time so it’s pretty crazy that I’ll be on the other side on the stage this time.

Do you find there’s a lot of cross over in your musical backgrounds, your musical upbringings and tastes now?
I think there’s certain people that we all relate to. I think Jimbo and Tyrone have a bit more of a rock background, particularly when they were teenagers and in bands. I was listening to a lot of house music and Moby and Milo/Mylo when I finished school. We first bonded over artists like Booka Shade and Trent Mola, which I still think has a pretty hard rock edge, and Radiohead and stuff like that. It’s sort of melding those two worlds that we found our little niche and sound that we have and the electronic element to our stuff. To also have a big focus on vocals and big feeling tracks. 

What kind of stuff do you listen to in your down time? Have you found anything lately you’ve really liked?
Yeah I’ve been loving Maribou State, Bob Moses, George Fitzgerald. They’re the biggest ones at the moment. That stems from a love I have for Nicholas Jaar and Darkside. There’s elements of those guys in Bob Moses and Maribou State sonically, with George Fitzgerald too, the influence of the space that he creates is pretty awesome.

Once the album’s out, what’s next for you guys touring wise?
We’re going to take February off, finally some time off which will be nice. We’re just going to go away for a while. Then in March we tour Europe and in April we tour America which ends in Coachella. We’re going to announce some stuff soon. I think we’ll be back to do some Australian touring.

Is there anywhere on the Europe or America tours you’re excited to head to?
We haven’t played in Italy or Barcelona which we are on this tour so I’m pretty excited about that. All the hot spots, London Paris, LA, I love all of those places. Especially finishing on Coachella.

Bloom is out January 22 via Sweat It Out.