Sunday could be a third time’s the charm situation for Aussie favorites Rüfüs Du Sol, who are nominated in best dance/electronic recording for their track “Alive.” This nomination follows a pair of 2020 nods for best dance/recording and best dance/electronic album.
Nestled in the category amongst IDM, EDM, ambient and rave, “Alive” is a darkly buzzy slow build outfitted with a chorus on which vocalist Tyrone Lindqvist proclaims, “at least I’m alive,” a sentiment the group suspects many relate to amidst the lingering pandemic. “Alive” hit No. 37 on the Alternative Airplay chart and No. 18 on dance/electronic songs, demonstrating the broad cross-demographic appeal of the song and the group itself — an appeal the group — Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt — hopes translates into a victory today in Las Vegas.
Where was “Heartbreak” made, and when?
Jon George: “Alive” was created between L.A. and Joshua Tree.
James Hunt: The initial sketch came when we were working in L.A. with our friend Jason Evigan in the studio. he’s a really talented producer and collaborator we worked with, and the initial spark came from a song we heard in a TV show… I was playing it for Tyrone, and had this really destroyed, gritty texture to it. I remember leaving the studio and Tyrone was listening to it, then I came in the next day and he had this really amazing sketch. It was so captivating. It was one of the earliest things we wrote during lockdown. Then we went to Joshua Tree at the start of the pandemic and had a chance to flesh it out.
Who was the first non-collaborator you played it for, and how did they react?
JH: Often as we’re writing, we’re playing ongoing progressions of the track, so our partners will hear iterations of it as it grows and progresses. It’s hard to think who would get a fresh look. I’m pretty sure I sent a link to my parents before it came out, and they hadn’t heard anything. They loved it, but they’re generally supportive anyways. We played at Red Rocks in August and the song had just come out, so we got to see a pretty raw reaction from the crowd on a song they’d only just heard.
Did you know the song was special or a “hit”?
Tyrone Lindqvist: No, not particularly. I feel like in general, in the studio we just write and have good days and bad days, good ideas and bad ideas and just ideas in general. Some see the light of day and end up getting finished. I think once they’re in the closest stages of being finished, we have our frontrunners. Especially in the process of making an album. There are just those few little gems that seems to surface and become a bit obvious, and we finish those few. This one was in that group. I was definitely a bit surprised about that being the single choice. I’d always loved it… but it takes its time a bit. It’s not the most obvious single to me, and that was really exciting, that our label and our team and everyone seemed to be behind.
What do you think it was about the song that appealed to Grammy voters?
JG: It’s definitely a fresh take on electronic music. There are so many bedroom producers out there and people using every bit of muscle that they can get their hands on from technology to try to play the game differently. I think this song is unique. It’s unique for us in particular, the breakbeat-ey sort of style, the sample feeling with the cowbell taken from another track. I guess the biggest thing, after this moment in time with the pandemic, I think the song sums up a lot of peoples’ experiences of this time.
What were you guys doing when you found out you were nominated?
JH: We’d actually just played our first ever show in Mexico, at Corona Capitol in Mexico City. I checked my phone and there were all these Twitter notifications about the Grammys. I was like, “What? No way.” We were getting all kinds of messages of congratulations from friends. It was really surreal.
The collection of albums nominated in the dance/electronic categories this year is really sonically diverse, from house to future bass to bass and beyond. What’s your take on disparate styles of dance music competing against each other in the same category?
JH: It seems like there’s a progression towards the recognition of really tasteful electronic music. Caribou and Bonobo are acts that we’ve referenced over the years and groups that we were fans of before we became a band. And James Blake as well. Hopefully it indicates that there’s less of a focus on commercial crossover and more on the artistic side of electronic music, because there’s so much of it. And it’s also an honor for us to be lumped in with all of these sick songwriter and producers.
Is there anything you would like to see the Grammys change, evolve or expand in the way they handle electronic music?
JG: I think like James was saying, there seems to be a new push towards really credible electronic music, and I guess we could self-categorize a bit, but I think what’s happening with recognition is a really good start.
Obviously the electronic awards aren’t part of the telecast, but it must be really cool to be with such a wide-ranging collection of artists during the technical awards.
TL: It felt really exciting. It felt like being part of a school assembly, or something. It’s nice to just be in a room with music lovers and creators that all share that love of music, in a very consolidated space where there’s nerves and excitement. I’d say most of the people who make music are introverted or awkward and they express themselves with their music, so it’s fun to have that mixed with the eclectic group of people in the room.
There are no female producers nominated in this category in 2022, and this isn’t the first year that this has happened. How do you explain the lack of female artists represented here?
JG: I think we can speak for our journey and trying to be aware of the women who are making music. We have our record label and are trying to discover up-and-coming female artists. I wish there were more efforts in the same vein to bring women to the forefront. We’ve got our own festival now called Sundream, and we tried to make that just as diverse as possible. There’s a woman coming out on our label soon in the next year that we’re excited to announce, and she’s doing great things.
How badly do you want to win this year? Does winning matter to you?
JH: Yeah, I want to win pretty badly. I think it’s fair to have that hunger. I think it’s a healthy drive. It’s not the reason we make music, to get accolades, but it is nice to have recognition and have people identify with the work. It’s validating, to be perfectly honest, and something we’ve dreamed of. The whole time we’ve been a band we’ve always set healthy goals, and when we first started it would be to play a few hundred-person venue. It gradually increases through little steps. One of them was to play Coachella, then we actually got to do that, twice. Realizing those goals is pretty surreal and amazing, and another one of those goals is to win a Grammy. Having the award in your house would be pretty sweet.
If you do win, how will you celebrate?
JG: What we’re excited to do again is celebrate with the team. Once we get out of that technical awards ceremony, whether we win or lose, we get to sit down together and have a celebratory lunch with our partners and team. I think that’s such a warm and fuzzy feeling, for us to be able to bring everyone into what we’re doing. And because it’s in Vegas I think there will be a big party, and we’ll probably DJ and have some smiles either way.
JH: And play some blackjack.
What’s the best Grammy afterparty you’ve been to?
JG: There was a pre-party, I think it was for Warner, and Lizzo played. We were just in this small, intimate room and there was a bunch of celebrities and high profile people. It’s hard not to get starstruck.
Who were you most starstruck by?
JH: When we went to the Grammys and met James Blake, and that’s probably the most starstruck I’ve been. He’s lovely. He’s a very lovely dude.