Q&A with Luke Dubber from Hermitude

Photo by Mıe Nakazawa
Photo by Mıe Nakazawa
Photo by Mıe Nakazawa

WORDS | Sharmaine Spencer 

Sharmaine: Tell us something unique about yourself as a musical group? And how did Hermitude get started?

Luke Dubber: Well, we originally played in this small band up in the Blue Mountains which was a funk/reggae/jazz band a while back. We actually first met in that band and Justin brought some turntables and then I brought my keyboards over for a jam one day and that was how we began. Once we started jamming, we picked up the keys for his dad’s studio one night and snuck into his studio at midnight  and stayed up till dawn and wrote this cool song and listened to it the next day, and we thought ‘Hey, this is pretty good, we should do this again sometime!’ And that is pretty much how we started, we just kind of kept going and sneaking into the studio at first, and then we eventually put together a bunch of songs and released our first EP on elephant tracks which was called ‘Imaginary Friends’. But yeah, something unique about us, I guess we try and bring a really live element to electronic music so we’re writing electronic beats and we’re in that world we’re touring and stuff and doing festivals, but we like to make our shows a lot more interactive then just a DJ set, so we bring some instruments and we make sure people know that we’re playing everything live, and that we have cameras on our gear so people can see what we’re doing. So I guess that’s something that makes us a bit more unique.

S: Yeah, that’s really cool; I think  you’re getting an experience more than just a DJ set, like you said.

Okay, now obviously considering we’ve been talking a lot about electronic music, do you believe that electronic music is a rapidly popularising or growing genre, especially within the Australian music scene at the moment?

L: Yeah it’s definitely kind of booming, it’s like you know it’s not a new genre in any sense, like I grew up listening to electronic music at school and was listening to stuff coming out of London and Detroit and stuff around 2000 , but it’s never really  been exposed like it has recently in Australia. I think  it was always quite underground and then there were always  some really cool raves and electronic-weird experimental gigs going on in Sydney, but now they’re like really massive, so it’s really cool because it’s kind of opened up the door for a lot of producers who have been into this stuff for years or who haven’t been, and have just  started out writing this kind of music, so yeah, it’s definitely exploding and it’s really cool to be a part of the scene that really seems to be giving Australia a real kind of name for itself overseas.  Like there are so many guys that are kind of touring in America and Europe and Australia is kind of gaining this reputation for being a really awesome electronic music kind of place. It’s really exciting.

S: That’s really good because it totally leads onto my next question, which I was going to say, do you think that with this massive boom with electronic popularity as such, do you think that Australian artists or electronic producers have adopted a unique style or unique sort of vibe compared to some other international acts we’ve seen?

L: Yeah, I think they have, like I don’t know what it was born from, but I think Australia’s always sort of had an expectation for rock music because we’re sort of really well known internationally for having really good amazing rock bands but with electronic music anyway it’s always been Australia’s looked to Europe or to American or other places for inspiration, and to maybe somewhat model their music around sounds that are already happening overseas, whereas now we’ve got a new wave of guys that are coming through that have  just created their own sound, and now people are starting to look to Australia for influence, so yeah it’s awesome,  it’s totally kind of coming around and Australia’s just gained this really great reputation and image of being dope electronic music producers.

S: What do you think about new digital media platforms such as ‘Sound cloud” and other internet based podiums? Do you think that these are giving a lot more exposure to young producers and musicians, and people emerging into the music scene, especially within the electronic music genre?And do you guys kind of wish it was that easy for you in the beginning of Hermitude?

L: Yeah sure, it’s definitely, completely changed. There just wasn’t this kind of platform around when we started out, I mean, our first record came out in 2003 and so it was like completely different,  the internet just wasn’t where it’s at now. Like Soundcloud is amazing and I actually find myself listening to a lot of music mostly on it these days, like you kind of follow a bunch of people and you get in your car in the morning and you just bring up the stream and just hear all this great new music from all the people that you’re following and stuff that they’ve shared, and so that is just an amazing kind of thing, you know, like kids are blowing up off sound cloud and tracks you know like they’ll drop a track on Soundcloud and it gets a million plays and then all of a sudden they’re kind of like you now, getting record deals and starting to tour and stuff, so it’s become like you don’t necessarily need radio or an outlet like radio, although radio is really important, especially in Australia. Like I think Triple J is an amazing kind of unit, you know, which has helped expose a lot of great music to the country, and to the world, but internationally, and especially with electronic music, I guess because of its kind of more technologically based, so Soundcloud and even YouTube and all that stuff is really great for just getting your music heard. Even Spotify and all the page stuff and that whole kind of world is  still only in its early stages and I don’t know if it’s totally beneficial for a lot of musicians in a sense that the business side of things is still kind of finding its way, but it’s still fantastic that you can now subscribe to a music service and have unlimited amounts of music and listen to all this stuff, so it’s all heading in a really positive direction, even though it’s still kind of finding its way, but yeah, if that stuff was around when we first dropped our record, we would have been pretty happy.

S: Some of Hermitude’s more recent tracks, such as ‘Speak of the Devil’ have had heaps of electronic vibes, but also kind of a hip-hop feel, can we see Hermitude touch back on this sort of “hip-hop” route or style that you guys originally sort of came out with in anything coming up soon?

L: Yeah, well we’re working on our record and  we kind of like to change things up every time we do a record, like I don’t know if you heard some of our older stuff but it’s always kind of moves in a bit of a different direction every time, so it’s not going to be a repeat of something that we’ve done. But hip-hop has probably been the backbone of everything that we’ve ever written, like we’re both fans of music in general so we listen to heaps of metal and rock and blues and country, and music back as kids, but the thing that sort of brought Hermitude together, I think, was hip-hop. We just had a massive love of hip-hop, so that was kind of where we started, and I think that’s always going to be really present in the music that we write. I think this next record we’re kind of touching on a few different sounds, and kind of exploring some other avenues, but there’s definitely going to be a hip-hop flavour on the record. I think we just can’t help it. There always will be.

S: What are Hermitude’s plans for the rest of the year in regards to touring after Conception Day?

L: Well after Conception Day we’re going to America for a tour with Rufus, so we’ll be over there from October and then we’ll pretty much come back in November and finish off the record to have it out by the beginning of next year. We hope to finish it by the end of the year and put it out early next year.

S: Alrighty, speaking of Conception Dday, what can we expect to see from you guys from your set on Conception Day?

L: Well, we’re going to bring the full show and we haven’t actually been playing many gigs this year, so we’re kind of pretty excited about that because it gives us a chance to road test some new tunes that we’ve been working on in the studio, so we’ll probably play a couple of new songs, and yeah, it’s like our first Sydney show since March or something, so we’re really excited to just play a home town crowd, and also Uni gigs are always really fun because everyone’s just kind of in a good mood and up for partying. So hopefully everyone will be dancing and we’ll provide the means.

S: Wonderful, it sounds exciting.

L: Yeah, it’ll be fun.

S: You kind of answered a bit of my last question here, but what are you guys looking forward to most on Conception Day?

L: I guess, just playing for a start, because we’re really hungry to play and we just haven’t been playing shows. But also to see some other bands and just to kind of hang out with some new people,  that’s one of the good things about playing these festivals, we kind of get to gather around and meet lots of new people and just have a chat. So yeah, and just to see how crazy everyone’s dance moves get, I guess. We like to see people’s individual dance styles, so we’ll see how everyone goes at Conception Day.

S: I hope the people of Macquarie can produce dance moves for you.

L: Haha, I’m sure they will.

S: Well, thank you very much for the interview this morning and we’re super excited to see you guys on Conception Day.

L: Sweet, we’ll see you there.


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