Rüfüs du Sol 'Take Turns Driving the Computer': An Inside Look at Aussie Trio

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Tyrone Lindqvist of Rufus du Sol performs at the Twilight concert series at Santa Monica Pier on Aug. 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, Calif.

On a Thursday night in Santa Monica, California, a calming ocean breeze is trailing the scent of marijuana through a crowded pier and up into a large sound stage at the base of the dock. According to a local police officer, there’s about 30,000 spectators flanking the historic wooden structure, suffocating for space and wishing they RSVP’d for the free show on the pier.

Right as the sun begins to bend on the Pacific horizon, three Aussies known as Rüfüs du Sol take the stage and prepare their instruments to entertain with a night of house-infused indie dance selects.

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The band has been together for six years and are hitting a stride that is only rivaled by an Olympic runner after one hundred meters. Their sophomore album, Bloom, has been embraced around the world, and they recently announced a large scale North American tour for this fall.

Their sound stems from the ability to communicate as “one brain,” and mesh their individual talents. “We’re three dudes that are producing in the studio and writing in the studio,” says singer Tyrone Lindqvist. “Everything. We all write the lyrics. We all write the vocal melodies. We all write the chords. We all take turns driving the computer. We haven’t met many bands that work like that.”

As a unit, they display a unique cohesiveness, but the true nature of their message comes from three individual stories that lured each member to the stage. Billboard Dance had the opportunity to explore Rüfüs’ past, and witness how three young friends intertwined to fortify their sonic strength.

The Accidental Singer

Tyrone Lindqvist was born to two opal miners in a small rural town ten hours northwest of Sydney called Lightning Ridge. Lindqvist’s childhood was littered with abandoned cars, open spaces and shooting glass bottles out of trees.

He grew up outside a modern electrical grid and the inconvenience of a distant power generator meant that his youth wasn’t distracted by television and technology. Instead, he turned to music. “We had this little piano that I used to tinker away on,” says Lindqvist. “I’m not really good at piano, but I’d lose hours just playing the same set of chords or a melody with the sustain pedal on.”

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Lindqvist’s hometown offered few opportunities so his parents sent him to a boarding school in Sydney where he started a band with two friends. He picked up the bass and ended up singing because the other members were too timid to embrace the vulnerability of live vocals.

“Nothing really happened until I finished school and did solo things,” says Lindqvist. “Just messing around at home recording on the computer. Just acoustic, alternative stuff. Even some electronic stuff but never put anything out.”

Lindqvist’s best friend at school had an older brother that was going to audio engineering school, and the two musicians kindled a friendship over their similar musical interests. When the older brother, Jon George, invited Lindqvist up to visit him at college, the Rüfüs project began to take shape.

The Engineering Elder

Keyboardist Jon George grew up in the suburban surf town of Cronulla with five siblings.

His mother adamantly encouraged him to play piano and saxophone, and he joined the primary school band.

He became more rebellious in his teenage years and was sent to boarding school. He decided to give up playing instruments and “pretty much got kicked out of school right at the end of it.”

Once he finished school, his attention diverted to clubbing and dance music. “I started toying around with the idea of DJing and using music programs to chop up and edit and mash up tracks,” says George. “I got hungry to work out how to do it myself.”

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His curiosity led him nine hours up the coast to the School of Audio Engineering (SAE) in Byron Bay, and after two years of education, he reconnected with his little brother’s best friend, Tyrone Lindqvist.

“I invited Tyrone up to Byron Bay to stay a few days,” remembers George. “And I’d help him record some of his acoustic, solo stuff in the studios they had at SAE. He was helping me with the simple musicality of the stuff I was doing.”

The two connected connected over electronic artists like Booka Shade and Royksopp and wrote the first Rüfüs EP in 2010. It was then time to call drummer James Hunt to fully express the music in a live setting.

The A.D.D. Drummer

James Hunt grew up in the suburbs north of Sydney with his parents and two younger sisters. His parents, an accountant and a primary school teacher, encouraged their children to pursue creative endeavors and a young, introverted James expressed himself through cartoons and illustration.

At 13, Hunt’s school had a compulsory music program, and he was selected for the highly sought after percussion program. “I was really lucky and got into this drum class,” remembers Hunt. “When I started tapping at home on things my parents were like, ‘we need to get him some lessons because he’s ADD or something.’ I became obsessed with it.”

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His musical education placed him in several school programs and through mutual friends led him to form a bond with fellow Rüfüs bandmate Tyrone Lindqvist.

Before completing high school, Hunt’s father purchased a digital audio workstation, and his childish imagination was given a new canvas.

“Me and my friends used to go into my backyard and record weird little twigs breaking and leaves crunching and make beats out of that,” says Hunt. “It definitely helped coming from a drumming background with putting together all these things in a rhythmic way and making these little textural pieces. This was a pretty pivotal point in my life as a musician and producer. I was really delving into the world of DIY production.”

FALL 2016 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES

October 29 Live Oak, FL Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park

November 2 Asheville, NC New Mountain Asheville

November 3 Washington, DC 9:30 Club

November 4 Boston, MA Paradise

November 5 New York, NY Terminal 5

November 6 Montreal, QC Theatre Berri

November 8 Toronto, ON The Phoenix

November 9 Columbus, OH Skully's

November 10 Detroit, MI Majestic Theatre

November 11 Chicago, IL Concord Music Hall

November 12 Minneapolis, MN Fine Line

November 15 Madison, WI The Miramar Theatre

November 16 Milwaukee, WI Majestic Theatre

November 17 St. Louis, MO Delmar Hall 

November 18 Lawrence, KS Granada Theater

November 19 Denver, CO Gothic Theatre

November 23 Whistler, BC (DJ SET) Maxx Fish

November 24 Vancouver, BC Celebrities

November 25 Seattle, WA Neptune

November 26 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom

November 30 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore

December 2 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern

December 3 San Diego, CA Music Box