Hermitude Show Both Sides on New Album 'Dark Night Sweet Light'
The Sydney duo talk vampires & sonic evolution on the cusp of their fall tour.
On Aug. 28, Australian duo Hermitude released their second album Dark Night Sweet Light -- a record they proudly feel showcases both sides of the band’s sound, from gentle downtempo songwriting to popping club floor-fillers.
With their first single, “Through the Roof,” featured in the new Madden 16 video game just as the NFL season kicks off, things are lining up nicely for Luke Dubber and Angus Stuart's coming Stateside run this fall.
Speaking to Billboard, Dubber says, “It feels like we’ve got a real momentum behind us.” As he prepares to expand on that momentum with an eight-date tour kicking off around Halloween, Dubber dished on the new album, his favorite trip-hop sounds, and why Hermitude's dream horror maze would feature vampires in a bowling alley.
Talk about the growing fan base over here.
It’s been a real healthy progression for us, I think we’ve been over there like four times in the last year or so, maybe even five. L.A. is starting to feel like our second home these days. But just having the opportunity to come over and do a bunch of gigs in the last year has been fantastic. We’ve watched our club shows grow from relatively no one to filling small rooms over there. It’s been a great progression.
When do you come back here and introduce people to that?
We’re back at the end of October around Halloween. It’s kind of our official album launch tour we’re doing, which is really cool. We’re actually going to be bringing the full show with us, which is basically us bringing a bunch of equipment from home, like samplers, turntables and drum machines and drum parts and recreating that album as best we can in a live format. We both grew up playing in bands so we try to keep it as live as possible within the electronic realm. So I guess we stand out a little bit from other EDM type acts in the sense we’re not just DJing, we’re trying to play as much as possible on stage.
Speaking of Halloween if you could score one Clive Barker film what would it be?
It would probably be Candyman actually, it’s one of his more commercial films. Either that or Night Breed, I like Night Breed cause it’s got a bit of humor.
Taking this a step further Universal Studios does musician-themed horror mazes, like Slash one and Black Sabbath one. Would you be down to be the first electronic act to have your own maze?
I reckon listening to a record and designing a maze around that would be super cool. With electronic dance music it would be really cool. It could go in so many different directions, like a horror theme would work with EDM, with our record, Dark Night Sweet Light, it could have two sides to it. We kind of came up with the title because we thought the album represented two sides of our personality, like Dark Night, which is the moodier stuff on the record, than Sweet Light, which is kind of the more bouncy, up-tempo vibe-y stuff on the record. I guess you could incorporate that into the maze, you could have some deep dark acid wave, then some really happy sunny moments.
What would be the two or three main horror components you would need in the maze?
I’d like some kind of haunted bowling alley where there’s like bats flying around, maybe some vampires bowling. You’d have to have some awesome music playing as well, even though it would be the Hermitude haunted vampire bowling alley I’d probably want some dark twisted surf music going on. I’m visualizing a little bit of [From] Dusk Till Dawn bar scene where they all turn into vampires or whatever they are.
What songs from the new album are the first ones you use to bring out the vampires?
Probably the first one would be “Shift,” it’s the first song we wrote for the record actually. When we finished our last record, Hyperparadise, the very last thing we wrote was “Shift,” which made it on to the new record, which is quite rare. Normally you go through a couple of months just writing a bunch of bullshit before you find some gold. But we were really lucky and “Shift” is the type of moody piece, it’s almost like an interlude. But I guess after “Shift” we’d have to go with “Midnight Terrain,” which obviously even the title has vampire written all over it. This song is basically meant for afterhours listening when you’re kind of sitting at home and the lights are dim, or maybe you’re walking home from a club or something and it’s going down some seedy back alley somewhere. That’s what “Midnight Terrain” is.
Talk about having your song “Through The Roof” on the Madden soundtrack after playing the game as a teen.
It’s interesting, the tune they put on there is pretty different from the rest of the stuff on the record. It was the song we went out with as our first single because we felt like it really bridged the last record we did and this current record we’re putting out now. It’s interesting they went with that song because it’s probably the most acoustic, band-ish sounding song on the record. I’m looking forward to singing it because I feel like it’s got a really great energy about it and I could see how that would match with Madden. So like I said I’m still waiting for my copy.
How has your sound evolved?
For this particular record we went in with a few ideas or things we wanted to adhere to. One of those was keeping things a lot simpler. With this particular record we really wanted to go with just writing really strong melodies and strong chords. There wasn’t the need to clutter it up with any unnecessary sounds. Also, we just wanted to music to breathe a bit more so much less was going on sonically and what was going on had a lot of space to move. So much evolved musically around the world while we were writing the record, the EDM thing was really just kicking into gear when we dropped our last record, HyperParadise, and in the last three years it has obviously just exploded massively in America and around the world, in Australia too. We were touring a lot, playing a lot of festivals and playing to these massive crowds and wanting to give a Hermitude touch to that kind of sound that was going on. And also watching the energy of these crowds at festivals was really kind of inspiring us to write bangers when we were coming back in the studio.
But something we’ve always prided ourselves on doing -- and we have a real love for -- is writing really soft downtempo gentle songs. That’s something we wanted to showcase on this record as well. So we tried to find a balance between those massive club tunes or stuff you can play at festivals that makes the kids go spastic and then stuff you can put on at home and really vibe out to and get a lot of listens out of.
Who are the artists that influence you in the downtempo sound?
We came up listening to Massive Attack, Shadow and Portishead and a lot of that stuff happening in the late Nineties and early 2000’s, which is when we started getting together and writing music. That shit was hot back then, everyone was listening to that, that was huge. So we were kind of vibing that, listening to it and kind of writing it in the studio. And now we’re in this place that stuff we were listening to that was called trip hop has evolved through the years, through the whole Flying Lotus thing that happened and all the stuff that’s coming out of the U.K. is that instrumental hip-hop thing we always loved. It’s mellow music that has a kind of backbone in hip hop and mellow cool trippy sounds. It’s evolved into its own thing, which is great. That’s what we always try and do as well, we hate staying stagnant. We love just exploring different sound palates and hoping that old fans come along for the ride.