Jon George of RÜFÜS DU SOL Interview at The Surf Lodge

RÜFÜS DU SOL, the alternative dance group comprised of Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt performed at The Surf Lodge Concert Series presented by Lincoln on Sunday, June 11, 2017, to a packed house. After the show Jon George talked to me exclusively about moving from Australia to Los Angeles, California, working on their new upcoming album, and playing at the iconic Montauk Hotel The Surf Lodge.

The band played all their hits "Like An Animal", "You were right", "Brighter", while the sun was setting and the sky turned orange and red on the background. The show was a lot of fun and crowd was singing along and dancing.

Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George,  and  James Hunt

Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt

Here is the interview, enjoy:

If somebody doesn’t know you at all, how would you describe yourself and the band?

House music is generally what we revolve around.  However, we’ve both got different backgrounds of Indie music and different like even rock and stuff, so it’s like this big live analog and acoustic element to what we do.  So basically, dance music done live, I think, is probably the best way to describe what we’re doing. 

And how do you write your songs? Do all of you write the songs together?

Yeah, so like on stage, we all have different roles.  There’s Trevor and Tyrone who sings and plays guitars and plays keys, and I play keys, as well, but in the studio, anyone can write any drum part.  Anyone can sing any sort of part, write any vocal melody.   We’re all pretty multifaceted and able to produce in the studio.  It’s a lot more fun and we’re open to everything.

How about the lyrics.  Do you write yourself?

Yeah, so like particularly for lyrics, lyrics is the last thing we write.  We usually write melodies and everything before that, and lyrics are the very last thing that comes to what we’ve done so far.

 A lot of people do the opposite. 

 Yeah, so I think that like first and foremost is the feeling of the melody and things like that that sort of strike us, and then we try and let the lyrics represent what we were feeling.

Okay, and what are those feelings usually?  What’s your inspiration for the music?

It just goes through different iterations.  In the first album, I had just been through a few breakups and so I was feeling a lot of that.

Breakups do make great songs, right?

Yeah, and I think what we do, like it’s been pretty inevitable that it’s hard to hold down a relationship while traveling, so there’s always been like a push a pull between whether you’re like…you’ve been in love and also you love what you do as a career, and it’s really hard to just leave someone at home and then say, “Hey, I want to fucking make music and travel around the world and do this.”  It’s hard for everyone to accept that. 

Are you in a relationship right now?

I am in a relationship. 

Is she from Australia?

Yeah.  She’s been touring with us a little bit, too, which is…I’ve got a nice situation for me at the moment.  She sung on the last record.

Oh, so she’s also a singer?

Yeah.

What’s her name?

Her name’s Dena Amy, and she DJs, as well.

So, she’s very musical.  That’s great. 

Yeah, so it’s been good for me because my girlfriend’s around a lot. But before her, it was really tough to be able to sustain a relationship.  Either way, like with lyrics for a song, I think it can be from just looking at a sunset and a feeling of what that feels like and trying to be like trying to project that imagery to people is basically what we’re trying to do when we’re writing lyrics.

Sure.  And you were mentioning outside that you were going to work on a new album.  Can you tell me about that? What are you working on the rest of the year.  What are your goals?

Yeah, so we’ve just moved over to L.A. about two months ago, and we started that process in writing new tracks.  It was just an initial period, six weeks before we knew we had touring coming up, so we were just like let’s start the process again.  We’ve been touring for two years since the last album.  Let’s try to work out how to write again together and get into each other’s heads, and we just sort of having fun with it.  So, it’s been a lot of fun.  It’s been really easy.  We bought a bunch of new synthesizers and toys and stuff to play around with, and we’ve just been—all three of us…

What kind of toys?

Mainly just new keyboards.  We’re very passionate about electronic synthesizers and things like that, so it was like a whole new playground for us.  We just went a spent a bunch of money on like different toys.  So that was the starting process.  It felt real fun, and we started touring again.  Now we’ll keep touring up until August through Europe and stuff.

Do you have a studio that you work at or did you build a studio?

We built a studio in Venice in L.A.  We acquired a house.  We loved it—it had like a music studio separate from the house.

No way?

Yea, it’s a big 4-bedroom house, a pool, a hot tub.

So, was the studio was already there?

Yeah, so it was just an empty studio, so we brought in all this gear.  We went to town on it—new desks; new monitors; new screens; new synthesizers; drums—everything.

What dream? 

It was amazing.  It was hard to go to sleep because it was so much fun just to be in it. 

I’m sure. You probably just wanted to make music.

Yeah, you could just be up till like 7 a.m., and it’s not the type of staying up till 7 a.m. when you feel guilty about it.  It’s like when you’re being that productive, it’s like, oh my God—I could stay up forever.

My friend Lionel Richie always tells me, “After 9-10:00 pm or even midnight, everything is so quiet. The streets are quiet.  The phone’s not ringing.”  This is when he can make music. Do you feel like that?

Yeah, that’s a really good way of putting it, too.  I think that our friends and the reason that we moved to L.A. because we wanted to be able to be writing and have everything at our disposal which is hard in Sydney because it’s not so…there’s a lot more to be able to be used here in terms of production, equipment, choirs—everything is at your disposal in America. So that was one part.  But another part was just to get away from friends and family so you weren’t distracted.  So like a big thing here is like, yeah, girlfriends will be here.  We still to have friends in L.A., but it is like everyone sort of pitters off around 10 p.m. or something and you just start to go, fuck, I could go to bed now or I could get in the studio and stay up all night. 

That’s when it’s quiet.  My mind works much better at night.  As soon as the sun goes down, my mind wakes up…

I think we’re on the same page.

I think a lot of musicians are like that.  A lot of artistic people.  So, what about your next Album do you have a vision for it yet?  Like a name maybe?

We do have some things in mind, but nothing that we would want to say. I think the main thing that we’re very excited and focused on is just the amount of toys and stuff that we bought.  I don’t know if you know, when you buy synthesizers and stuff, the amount of change they can make to the sound of an album. It’s so huge.  So, we’ve just started focusing on really authentic analog, organic production which we really want to focus on so it’s going to sound a little warmer and that’s sort of where we’re at at the moment—just as a sonic palette, but we’re happy for everything else to be discovered in the next six months or whatever.

What are you aiming for for the next album?

I think realistically, the record will be out next year, mid year.  But I think at the same time we don’t really even care about putting a time limit on ourselves.  Let’s just have fun; let’s make the best album we can make, and there’s no reason to rush it.  

Of course.  I mean, you just released one not too long ago, right?  And it’s doing really well, right?

Yeah, so like all these parties that we’re playing in America.  Everything just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year for us. 

I know.  There are so many people singing along with you guys.  That must feel so good.  And all those girls in the front. Did You see how they were going bananas?

Yeah, it’s crazy. 

How does that feel?

It was very cool.  I mean, in Australia, we’d been used to seeing crowds build and America was a big solo for us at the start.  Even Europe it still slow for us, but in America it just really picked up over the last year and it’s crazy just watching like going from playing like 1,000 people in L.A. to now playing like we played three shows that ended up being like 10,000 people.

Nice.  Yeah, you did Coachella and the Governor’s Ball, right?
Yeah, it’s been really fun.  Amazing. And easy.  It seems like people are really getting into the sound we’re making.

How did it feel playing here at the Surf Lodge with this beautiful view?

This is like I was saying to you earlier before—you get very skeptical when you don’t really have a full production, the full sound system, so I walk in very skeptical going, oh, shit, this could be hard work to try and keep everyone in the groove in the pocket where we want them to be.  But yea, it’s crazy when we walked out today and everyone was just singing along the whole time.  It was very easy.

I was looking behind me and I was like “Wow—this is incredible,” and the girls on top of people’s shoulders, right?  That’s so much fun. George’s last words:

Yeah, we’re very lucky.