Wednesday, 27 February 2013 12:26

Earth Frequency 2013

Returning to the mist-filled hills of Landcruiser Park is always a pleasure. An hour away from civilization, the eucalypt-filled 4WD and camping park has become home to one of Queensland's largest electronic gatherings, attracting dreadlocks and audiophiles alike to what I could only describe as a giant — and, in this case, wet — outdoor rave party.

The Earth Frequency organisers describe the festival as ‘not just a party, but a gathering of many different tribes and a weekend of connection, intention and inspiration’. It’s an apt description. Outside of the oodles of new age hippies, there’s a wide demographic of party people, from weathered old musicians to the small gangs of children that run amok among the market stalls. Not to mention the burgeoning ‘onesie’ wearers that like to get down in outfits ranging from dinosaurs to unicorns.

This year began with forecasts of a weekend long storm, which didn't bode well for the bass driven antics of our tribes people. Saturday was where the real fun began. After an opening ceremony and fire show, Hermitude kicked off the weekend, stepping out from behind their decks to jam with the audience on a beatpad and keytar. While they definitely got feet moving with their excellent showmanship and pop hooks, the headliners couldn't quite tip the audience into that state of mindless rave. Luckily the technical squelch of electronic mainstay Spoonbill could, followed by Love and Light, who turned the dancefloor into veritable chaos with their obscenely chunky, glitched-up bass.

After partying through the night and day, Sunday saw the quick rising Opiuo delight the crowd with his lowtempo funk and a glistening new track, while SPL shook the ground with some highly dynamic, hip hop infused bass beat splendour.
On Monday, the rain came. Hair got wet, feet got dirty, and those who remained got their squelch on in a smile filled dancefloor — the laidback funk of Jpod and Sunmonx closing up another weekend of incredible music, art and people.

Visit Scenestr to see photos from Earth Frequency
Published in Events Music
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 15:45

Hermitude: The Evolution Of Paradise

It seems Hermitude has evolved in a remarkably less than stepwise fashion, with each new album astonishingly different from the last. Elgusto casually counters such profundity: “It’s just an evolution of what we were in to. At no point did we ever want to redo what we ever did before.”

And the incarnations have been stark, starting when Luke Dubs and Elgusto got together to play in a number of bands when they were just youngsters. Elgusto recounts, “I was a drummer when I was growing up. We were playing mostly reggae, jazz and funk, and I think that was the beginning of Hermitude’s rhythm.

“I guess we got a lot of influence from Herbie Hancock, Parliament and James Brown of course. Herbie Hancock was kind of it for me in terms of his records. ‘Head Hunters’ with the song ‘Chameleon’ was where it all kicked in for me when I was young. The grooves on that record were incredible.

“Also there was a big influence when I went to Cuba when I was 15 years old, and my father and I studied Afro Cuban percussion. That was really an eye opener in terms of different styles and traditions. When I came back it really switched something in me.”
Eventually the inspiration and zeal culminated in the formation of Hermitude and they started writing music with a couple of synths, a sampler and a set of turntables. Since then, we’ve heard Hermitude play the instrumental hip hop that was all the rage in the early 2000s, then head off with some Latin sounds (which is understandable considering Elgusto’s background), and now onto something best described as future beats and electronica. Elgusto explains it is way outside of the square, but just what they’re into.

“As we progressed through the records we really liked to challenge ourselves. Soon we totally dropped the samples and played the instruments ourselves. When it came to ‘HyperParadise’ we wanted to challenge ourselves again with the general scene of beats in the last couple of years and the different synthesisers we collected on the way. And when we found a space, we set everything up in the one room all patched and ready to go. Then we sat there for a year and wrote ‘HyperParadise’.”
Some hip hop fans are highly likely to be exasperated by Hermitude’s new foray into future beats, but Elgusto explains that it’s simply an evolution of the band.

“I guess we wanted to move into a more electronic world rather than the hip hop world. We really wanted to focus on Hermitude’s core sound which was mostly instrumental. So instead of getting guest rappers or vocalists in we wanted to produce a whole instrumental record that could stand on its own two feet amongst the vocal albums out there.”

“Then we thought, how are we going to get this album to stand on its own two feet and get people walking away whistling a melody and getting really involved in the song? We thought there’s still got to be a hook, a chorus with a hook. So we started mucking around with samplers and synthesisers and just making sure that we had strong melodies to have people walk away and remember the song. And I guess what happened was that it came out more electronic than we thought and a bit more dance floor.

“I think we’re always taking steps and ‘HyperParadise’ was three years since the last album so it seemed like a large step. We’re back in the studio working on our next one and I think it’s going to be further down the road from where ‘HyperParadise’ finished.”

But it seems that regardless — or because — of Hermitude’s new sound, the duo are in high demand, even at unexpected festivals such as Earth Frequency.

“We’ve played at a number of doofs over the last couple of years. They’re always really fun with a bit more of an alternative crowd and they’re usually out in the bush somewhere with a really cool vibe. I think we’ve been booked a lot for doofs because our music is kind of ‘there’ but just a bit different.”

And when pressed for what Earth Freq-ers can expect to see, Elgusto states, “We like to perform our live shows as live as possible in an electronic sense. We never want to look like a couple of guys standing behind laptops nodding our heads. I guess that comes from the live performance background playing in bands. We have a bunch of synths on stage, an MPC sampler with drum pads and turntables, and we recreate the songs with all of those things on stage. We want to bring the live band and hip hop side of things into the electronic world.”

HyperParadise’ is out now. Hermitude play The Zoo on Sunday January 27 and will appear at Earth Frequency Festival at Landcruiser Park from February 15-18.
Published in Electronic
Friday, 08 June 2012 11:49

Hermitude's Parallel Paradise

You can’t slow down the Hermitude freight train at the moment, with the lads from the Blue Mountains today releasing ‘Parallel Paradise’ — the remix CD that follows hot on the heels of album, ‘HyperParadise’.

A number of country’s hottest and uber-talented producers — including M-Phazes, Flume, Ta-Ku and Sampology — have given their unique rubs to six Hermitude bangers.

Click here to listen to Flume’s remix of ‘HyperParadise’ that’s filled with epic build-ups, swung beat work and classy synths.

This weekend Elgusto and Luke Dubs join 360's 'The Flying' tour, which lands at the Hi-Fi June 10 & 11. All shows are sold out.

‘Parallel Paradise’ digital-only EP is available on iTunes and from
Published in Urban
Thursday, 02 February 2012 12:29

Hermitude 02.02.12

Devil Speaking

Have you had that little devil on your shoulder telling you to dance lately? If you have, you’ve probably caught the infectious new single, ‘Speak Of The Devil’, off Hermitude’s latest album, ‘HyperParadise’.

Luke Dubs, one-half of the Elefant Traks luminaries, talks about the direction of the new album and his love for the fans. “Well we haven’t actually played much of the album live at all yet, we’re about to hit the road in about six weeks so it’s all going to start kind of happening. We’ve played ‘Speak Of The Devil’ ... and that’s been doing really well obviously, because of all the radio love it’s had.

“It’s been hard to find a song that can follow it and maintain the same level of energy, and ‘The Villain’ luckily has been delivering on that front. So we’ve been playing that for the last couple of shows after ‘Speak Of The Devil’, and keeping people on the same level of intensity. It’s been working really well.”

Hermitude has been a mainstay of the instrumental hip hop scene in Australia for a decade, dropping the now highly sought, limited release vinyl, ‘Imaginary Friends’ EP, in 2002. Widely known for their ridiculous technical abilities, Hermitude consistently push the boundaries of both record production and live skill and ‘HyperParadise’ is no different.

“We’ve been experimenting with different styles of music over the years, like we came into this Hermitude thing with a massive love of hip hop and all the instrumental hip hop beats that were happening in the ‘80s ... with ‘HyperParadise’ we pushed for more of a synthy direction because we’ve been listening to you know, heaps of Hud Mo, Rusty and that type of future beats thing that’s been going on.

“We wanted to go in a bit of a different direction and go a little bit more synthy and samply but also kind of put together everything that we’ve been doing over the years and kind of meld it.”

The new release may side-step slightly out of their typical hip hop territory, but Dubs reveals there was nothing they wanted less than to alienate longtime fans; they just wanted to bring the best out of themselves and a fresh take on their skill set. “Every Hermitude record is like a massive journey for us and we keep a lot of things in mind about where we’ve come from and where we’re going. We also just try and forget a lot of it and basically get in there and just try and kind of push our creative limits.

“You know, it’s probably steered a bit away from hip hop this time … it’s always going to have a hip hop background, the music we write, (but) it’s definitely gone a bit more electronic, maybe a bit more club … it’s different sounds that we like to experiment with and see how we kind of go with it.

“We’ve always been able to write those downtempo, instro hip hop tunes quite easily so we’re always going to have those on the records ‘cause we just love writing that stuff as well. But, yeah, we’re definitely keeping our old fans happy, we think.”

Approaching the complexities of the record with a note of nonchalance, Dubs explains the recording process was a close-knit affair. “Hermitude’s always been an instrumental act primarily, and it was just time to do everything ourselves this time around. We decided to do pretty much everything. We got a guitar player in on one of the tracks and we had a vocalist in for ‘Speak Of The Devil’, (but otherwise) it was all us.”

With a common love for vinyl the duo always wanted to release ‘HyperParadise’ on wax, but the downturn in the industry forced them to rethink the strategy. They opted for a buy-in process where fans could sign up for a pre-release and the faith doesn’t seem to have wavered, the band easily making the numbers required to print.

“We’re both vinyl collectors still to this day so it’s really important for us to do vinyl. Unfortunately with the current climate of the music business, it’s quite hard to front that kind of money when you don’t know if it’s going to sell. You know people say they want vinyl but it’s a different thing to say they want it and actually forking out the money.”

Hermitude play The Brewery, Byron, March 9 and The Zoo March 10. ‘HyperParadise’ is available from February 3.
Published in Urban
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 12:20


Conquest Of The International

The Blue Mountains have become a vital cog in the Australian hip hop scene. The ranges to the west of Sydney have produced Thundamentals, Dialectrix and Joe New – all heavy hitters when it comes to local rap music.

But perhaps more important than any of them are Hermitude. The duo of Luke Dubber and Angus Stuart have now travelled extensively overseas, taking their largely instrumental blend of breaks, hip hop and electronica to Spain, Norway, Malaysia and Japan. It helps separate them from a wider hip hop movement that’s yet to venture in earnest beyond local shores.

“I think that because there’s a whole lot less lyrics and a whole lot less Australian accent on our records, it’s a lot more digestible for people who aren’t used to hearing Australians rap over beats,” Stuart explains from his Sydney studio. “The Hermitude sound is not 100 percent hip hop – there’s a whole lot of electronic stuff in there. I think it’s quite international in sound, in that it can be picked up anywhere and you wouldn’t know where it was from.”

And that travel sinks back into their artistry. Every time Hermitude leave and then come back to Australia, they squeeze out the sponge in the studio, building further on what has become one of the most distinctive sounds in local beat music. “I love travelling, just because it inspires me, and I get to see other amazing musicians and producers and bands and electronic acts around the world. It just psyches you up basically. I go and see this stuff and I’m like, ‘Woah. That’s so cool!’ And it’s an experience that’s attached to a place in a world that’s somewhere else. You come home basically with this bag full of experiences and ideas and vibes. It’s really important to both of us.”

Hermitude’s latest single, ‘Speak Of The Devil’, is a case in point, combining an almost polyrhythmic beat with Chaos Emerald’s New York schoolyard chant and brushes of both Japanese and Indian instrumentation. It’s a hair-raising listen, perfect for summer, which is perhaps why its been released in isolation in anticipation of a 2012 album tee-up. “As we started getting the record together for next year, ‘Speak Of The Devil’ just popped out as we were writing, and we thought that it would definitely be a single. It just told us that it was the single basically,” Stuart laughs. “It was one of those songs, and it was really easy to write; it virtually wrote itself. It all fell together and that was great. I think some of the best songs are always like that: they just come together as if they’re almost telling you what to do.

“And Chaos brought this vibe that’s almost irreplaceable. She’s just got this energy. You can hear it on the track. She’s not a totally trained singer, but there’s this slightly punky attitude in her delivery and it’s really cool.”

So solid is ‘Speak Of The Devil’ that Stuart and Dubber have decided to tour on the back of the release, bringing their energetic live show to Brisbane Friday week. “It’s cool, because it’s been a while between drinks, and we’ve got this single out and it’s really kicking along. We’re just going to go out, do a run of shows in support of ‘Speak Of The Devil’, but also just get back out there and hit Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and just get the vibe happening. We just wanted to start making some waves, and when we drop the record next year it will be a big splash.”

Dipping a toe back in the water, then. As such, Stuart and Dubber are keeping it stripped down, travelling just by themselves and looking to road test a bunch of new material. “We’ve got a fair few new tunes in the set,” Stuart says, “which is a lot of fun, because it will be good to road test them and see what works in the live sense. So yeah, I think it will be a bit of fun for people to come and check the live tunes, as well as some of the older classics. It’s just going to be us two, with a tasty set, and then local support DJs happening.”


Published in Urban
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 09:40

Hermitude : Interview

Crazy Old

Separately, Luke Dubs and Elgusto are the scions of musical families, blazing their own paths as live musicians, producers and DJs of considerable renown. Together, they’re Hermitude, one of Australia's finest instrumental acts. Call them virtuosos, call them renaissance men, call them innovators… Just don't call them a hip hop group.

“The thing about us, man,” Dubs explains, “is that we didn't intend to be a hip hop group, as such. We don't see ourselves as a total hip hop outfit. We know we're heavily influenced by it and listen to a lot of it… but there was pretty much no one doing it instrumentally when we started. There were guys making beats, of course, but actually doing it live is another thing.

“When we first started playing gigs in Sydney as Hermitude, they were fringey, electronic nights. We did work with a couple of MCs in our early days - Urthboy and TZU's Joelistics - and that kind of put us in the hip hop category, I guess. We're happy to be in that category, man, and it's a great thing to be a part of, but I guess in the beginning we didn't strictly see ourselves that way. We just made instrumental beats.”

Of course, it's hard not to think of Hermitude as a hip hop act when the Sydney duo are signed to Elefant Traks (all three of their titles, including the 2008 LP revelation 'Threads', have been released through the iconic hip hop label) and are well known for their relationship with Urthboy. Dubs went to high school with The Herd's breakout solo star, and Hermitude has just put the finishing touches on their contributions to the rapper's new album.

“The Urthboy record comes out in a couple of weeks, and we wrote three beats for it,” Dubs reveals. “We did the first single, 'Hellsong', which did really well on triple j, and a couple of other tracks. That kept us real busy for the first half of the year, man. We were slaving away. (Urthboy) cracked the whip. He wasn't even feeding us!

“Actually, it wasn't anything like that, but we were in the studio every other day banging out beat after beat, trying to get them through the strict quality control on the Urthboy record. I can't wait to see how that goes when it drops.”

The real Hermitude story goes back much further than the new Urthboy record and the success of 'Threads'. It's the story of two young lads from musical families who did something shocking in contemporary society - they didn't rebel against their parents.

“No, there was never any rebelling going on,” laughs Dubs, whose father made his name as a respected trumpeter. “But there wasn't any real conscious decision to go into music, either. I mean, I was at gigs every weekend, because a lot of the time mum would go out and see dad play and take me along. But I was six or seven, and I was more interested in sliding across the dancefloor on my knees than listening to what dad was doing.

“But as I got older I ended up taking up the piano. I've always loved what dad's done and appreciated being raised in a musical family, but it wasn't until the tail end of high school that I realised I could actually make a career out of it, that I could follow in dad's footsteps - not for the purpose of doing that, but just because I thought, 'if I can support myself by playing music, then I'll be a happy man'.”

The 16-year old Dubs and 11-year old Gusto played in their first band together in '94, but according to Dubs, it wasn't until they got a little older and the age gap started to 'shrink' that the duo thought they should “join forces and take over the world”.

“We've built up a reputation over here, but it's taken a lot of time. Instrumental music still isn't on a lot of people's radars. People relate to vocals, and like seeing someone up there telling their story. I guess with instrumental music it's a bit harder to convey those types of messages. But (instrumental music has) come a long way in Australia, and it's awesome to see that going on overseas on a big scale, as well.”

Hermitude play Sounds Of Spring at RNA Showgrounds Saturday September 26. For more info visit
'Threads' is available now through Elefant Traks.

Published in Urban


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