Australian dance trio Rüfüs Du Sol returned to the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on Friday (April 12). The group is known for their energetic stage show, and their turn at the fest was no different, bringing impressive lights and visuals to the Outdoor Theatre stage as well as fan favorites like “You Were Right” and “Innerbloom,” plus cuts from their third studio album, Solace.
Outside of their main performance — and a few surprise DJ sets — the group (Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt) also curated an Antarctic Geodesic Dome in the middle of the festival field for HP, allowing fans to immerse themselves in a fusion of technology, creativity and music.
Safe to say they were pretty busy during weekend one of the festival, but Billboard caught up with the group to discuss all things Coachella, touring, new music and more.
How does it feel to return to Coachella?
Hunt: We feel really excited because we’ve played Coachella once before officially, and then we also came another year and ended up DJ’ing, so we’ve been here a few times. We have a little bit of history with it. When we played the first time, it felt like a really big turning point for us, especially for the U.S. We didn’t know what to expect — the amount of people that would turn up. And that was a really special and very memorable moment. I specifically remember during “Innerbloom,” we got everyone to get their phones out and I was just like, “What the…? What is happening right now? This is very, very mind-blowing. Very pinch-yourself moment.” So it’s good to be back.
Are you like old pros now coming in, totally relaxed?
Lindqvist: Hopefully we’re not too old pros, like, where you’re just walking out thinking that you’ve got it all under control and, “Yeah, we’re great, we’re the best.” No, we’ve been touring for six months and we’ve been playing a lot of the songs, and it’s been cool because it’s like a trial and test of what works and what hasn’t worked as well, and we get to curate the perfect one-hour set for what we think we would love to see if we were at the festival. And it’s helpful having been here, because you understand the energy and excitement that’s out there, and you get a good idea of what you would want to see on this specific outdoor stage, as well. So we’ve designed the show to really make it an experience that we would want to be out there for.
What else did you learn from your first time here that helped you out?
Hunt: I think we learned that this festival isn’t just about the artists that are playing. There’s always really cool immersive experiences and art installations. That’s one thing we’re really excited about this year — we worked with HP and Intel for this dome experience for “Underwater,” so it’s like an immersive, 360-degree thing. We’re excited just imagining ourselves walking around, wandering in there, and then you know, being floored by this thing. It’s a good opportunity to engage with people in different ways.
Do you have any backstage rituals while on tour?
George: We always like to be backstage an hour before and just try to settle down and get into a nice, happy space. So you’re walking out nice and relaxed. And then we have a ginger shot just before we go on stage, which is key. Just before we actually walk on stage, we all give each other a good hug and just say something encouraging, like, “Let’s just enjoy this today and take it in. Be present.” That really sets the mood for the show.
How do you put together a set list?
Lindqvist: It depends on what type of experience we want. For this show in particular, we really wanted it to feel…not industrial, but right off the bat it feels a little closer to where we have been ending our sets, which is a little more dynamic and intense. You have a shorter amount of time to showcase whatever it is you want to showcase, so the journey feels a little more like we start where we end, and we go down and up from there a few times.
We’ve been playing an intro that we’ve loved for the last six months, and it’s been working so well, but we played Lollapalooza in South America and we were noticing in those shows, it’s just a slower build. And we were like, “Maybe we want something a little more arresting for this Coachella show.” So it was nice to have that as a test to know that we wanted to focus on writing a new intro for this show.
Yeah, people tend to be late to sets, so you have to slap ’em in the face once they do get there.
Hunt: Slap ’em in the face! That’s a slapper! Face slappers. We’re ready.
Which artists are you looking forward to seeing at Coachella?
George: Jon Hopkins was a big influence on the last record. We went and saw him in L.A. and it’s such an amazing show, so hopefully we get to catch the whole act.
Lindqvist: Dude, also, Aphex Twin. Very big, very big. Very excited for that. Also Four Tet, we love him. Stephan Bodzin. There’s a very strong electronic contingent. It feels like every year they nail the electronic lineup. It’s like a festival in its own right.
What’s your favorite song to play live right now?
George: “Innerbloom” is always a favorite, that’s a nice one to play. Tonight, I’m very excited to play “Solace,” [because] there are a couple of changes with production.
Hunt: We’ve taken it on a little expedition, so it’s quite exciting.
What other elements make up your live show?
Hunt: We use [visuals] as an extra lighting source, almost. Not something that you need to watch, but just something to keep enhancing [the set].
Lindqvist: At the heart of it, there are three musicians onstage. We wanted to complement that instead of distract from it. It feels like it does that in a nice way.
What’s the weirdest or most unique venue you’ve ever played a show at?
Hunt: [In Edmonton, Canada] we essentially played a bar/restaurant where people were eating their steak dinner and poutine and whatever. And so the stage was like — we assumed it was a legit stage, and basically it was like a slight step up. And so to fit the entire [drum] kit we had to put me in a completely different room, basically. And they couldn’t open the actual doors, so basically it was like I was hanging out in there, just having a jam. I was just chillin’. It was pretty good. Yeah, I was drinking beers back there.
Who would you want to tour with next?
Hunt: We are huge fans of Nicolas Jaar, so any way we could tour with him would probably be pretty surreal and awesome. Chemical Brothers are a huge influence of ours. Their live show is always very influential to us, [they’re] an act in a similar lane in some ways. We would love to tour with them.
Solace just came out in October, but are you working on the next record yet?
Lindqvist: We’re thinking about new music, for sure. We’re definitely excited. It’s been long enough now to have new experiences and influence, and the bucket’s getting filled again, creatively, [and we] want to throw paint at the wall again, like, let’s get in the studio!
Do you write while touring, or do you like to keep the two separate?
Lindqvist: We find it hard because…in history, we’ve always written while we’re in the same room. Now, we’re maybe going to explore writing separately and bouncing ideas, and then getting into a studio. We’re always excited by putting ourselves in the deep end, and the fact that we’ve never done that feels exciting. Hopefully, we’ll start writing new music soon.
George: We also wrote a bunch of music that didn’t make it on the last record, so it’s going to be really exciting to step back into some of those projects and flesh them out, finish them and give them the time of day. There is a song [whose working title is “Urchin”] that we’ve tried to put on the last two records. Still hasn’t made it, but I believe in it. [Laughs]
Who would you love to collaborate with next?
Hunt: It’s cool how people like Gesaffelstein are working with pop producers. It would be nice to work with Nicolas Jaar and get some different tastes. David August. Weevil. Adding a little injection of their flavor, but still sounding like us, could be cool.
Lindqvist: We’ve become really close friends with Jason Evigan, who we collaborated with on the last record with a few songs. He has such a beautiful studio — it just felt like a playground. So I think we see ourselves hanging out with him in his playground and making songs again. I think we noticed that it was really hard and rare to find people that you collaborate well with. We had a newfound appreciation and gratitude for the fact that we found each other, and that we balance so well in the studio. ‘Cause we got in the room with a few people and it was just hard to find that spark and the love, and it’s really rare.
What have you been listening to in order to get inspired?
George: My head is just filled with house music at the moment. We’ve been going through so much dance music, getting ready for DJ sets. We take a bit of inspiration from some of them. Some big build-ups are in my head now.
When it comes to DJ’ing and performing with vocals, what do you get out of one versus the other?
Lindqvist: I love both. There’s a different euphoria in each. [DJ’ing] is less physically strenuous, but yes, it’s a different beast. It’s really fun, I love it.
Hunt: It’s like, “Why can’t we do both?”
George: We just enjoy the actual art of DJ’ing.
Are there any more videos planned for the Solace era?
George: My brother [Alexander George] has been a longtime collaborator with us. He [was there] when the band started and he helped fund the first record; he and Tyrone were working on some short film projects, and with that money, we were able to write the first EP. After a little bit of a hiatus away from us, we’ve been able to bring him back on full-time and work creatively with him. So he’s been sifting through all the visual content from the live show and we’re ready to see what he’s got next in line for another track off the album.
Rüfüs had the highest debut for a new artist on this year’s Billboard Dance 100, at No. 30. How did that feel?
Hunt: I didn’t know that! That’s cool.
George: It feels really nice that the reception of the record has been as positive as it has been.
Hunt: Especially from Billboard, as well. Billboard has really given us a lot of love.
Lindqvist: We don’t make music for that reason, but it’s such a nice, cool thing to see so many people engaging in a similar way that you were engaging with it when you wrote it. You feel so passionate about a song, and then to see someone else get just as passionate about it themselves. You’re like, “I like that it’s your song now, too!”
Anything else in the pipeline?
George: We have a couple of big announcements coming up for California, so —
Lindqvist: — I’m gonna be a dad! We do have big announcements set, but I wanted to hijack his announcement. [All laugh]
George: Big things happening!