Hermitude have gone back to their Blue Mountains roots on their seventh record Mirror Mountain, a homage to the place they grew up.
Australian EDM heavyweights Hermitude AKA Gus “Gusto” Stewart and Luke “Dubbs” Dubber have been igniting the world’s dance floors for close to two decades.
The duo dropped their homely new record Mirror Mountain earlier this month, recorded in a DIY studio set up in the Blue Mountains.
We sat down with Hermitude on a sinky couch at Festival of the Sun to chat about double decker bus tours and vanilla slice, plus we did a test to see how well Gus and Luke actually know each other.
LUKE: Sinky couch!
HAPPY: Sinky couches are always the comfiest.
LUKE: Yeah if I lean back too far I’ll fall asleep.
HAPPY: [laughs] Yeah fully. So what have you guys been up to today? What’s your usual pre-festival routine?
LUKE: Pretty much just sitting in a van for five hours.
GUS: I actually got a train today which was unique for a festival day, ’cause we live in the Blue Mountains so we travelled down to Sydney and then up here. Not a very exciting day.
LUKE: Yeah it was pretty chill.
HAPPY: I saw the Blue Mountains album performance on your Instagram story today, with Andy standing on top of the Scenic World cable car. How did that happen? How’d they let you do that?
LUKE: The singer that sings on Promises, Andy, she’s always psyched for anything that goes, and we have friends at Scenic World who run the cable car and we just hit them up and said ‘Hey can we put our singer on top of your cable car’ and they were like ‘Sure! As long as she wears a harness’. But funnily enough she didn’t want to wear a harness, but of course, she wasn’t allowed. But yeah, we were really lucky, they were really cool.
HAPPY: So what was the experience of recording Mirror Mountain like?
GUS: It was amazing, man. It’s our lockdown album, but the timing was pretty crazy because we had booked a month and a half of writing time in the Blue Mountains, before COVID came along. Then just as it came along we got our studio setup in a place in the Blue Mountains, and it was like the world stopped around us and we had all this time to just create.
So it was really good for timing and getting out of the city and heading back up to the Blue Mountains where we’re from. It was really special because we hadn’t been there for years but we went up there and we were in this beautiful space. So yeah, it was a really dope and unique experience for us.
HAPPY: What’s the most thrilling part about making a record? Are there moments that get you really keen for the album as you’re writing?
LUKE: I guess there’s some times where something really clicks. You might have been working on a riff for a minute and you kind of figure out that magic combination, or whatever it is that you’re working on, and when you play it back you’re like ‘Oh fuck that’s huge’. That’s always a really great feeling. And then it’s also great on the other end to play festivals and hear it on a massive PA and watch people’s reaction.
HAPPY: With Mirror Mountain, how much of the Blue Mountains’ landscape influenced the sound of the album?
GUS: I think it was quite large actually. At first you don’t realise that a place has an impact on your sound until after you’ve created music. But when I listen back to the album, it really sounds like we’ve been impacted by the surroundings. And we actually went out before we started writing and sampled a bunch of sounds from around the town we were in, Blackheath, so it’s actually in the album, the sounds are part of the community, plus the effect of the nature and everything, it imparted itself big time on the record.
HAPPY: What kind of sounds did you get samples of?
LUKE: We went to this mall, and we had a backpack full of percussion instruments and there’s this community hall near where we live, and we basically knocked on the door and said, ‘Hey, do you mind if we set up a microphone and hit a bunch of shit in the hall?’ and they were like ‘Who are you guys?’ [laughs]. So we explained it to them and they were like ‘Yeah, yeah sure’.
So we went up there and we basically went into different rooms and hit all this different stuff, and there was a piano in there as well, so all of the piano on this record was from this piano in the community hall. There was also a choir rehearsing in one of the other rooms, so we kind of stuck a mic in the hallway and didn’t actually tell them at the time, but pulled these amazing samples so in retrospect we contacted them and we were like, ‘Hey! So we’ve got these samples of your choir in a song,’ and they were totally cool, they’re a local choir so it was a very local affair.
HAPPY: I also heard that you took a bus full of people on a tour of the Blue Mountains to launch the album, is that true?
GUS: Yeah [laughs].
LUKE: So for the listening party for Mirror Mountain, we got a double decker bus and we picked a bunch of people up from Katoomba station and they didn’t know where they were going, but they all got on the bus and we drove them down to Scenic World and we got on a cable car and we took them across the valley and then we played the album for them when we got to the other side. It was pretty sweet.
HAPPY: Once I took a bus to a festival and there was this lady who had made vanilla slice for everyone on the bus. Did you have anyone like that on your bus tour?
LUKE: Oh fuck yeah. I wish there was vanilla slice, but no, not really.
GUS: We did a collaboration with a local brewery, Mountain Culture, so we had our own beer which was dope. Sorry, were you going to say something Luke?
LUKE: No, no, no. I was just going to say I wish there was vanilla slice [laughs]. Nah I was really just a close knit family affair. It’s funny, this album just ended up being a real love letter to the Mountains, but we didn’t really intent on that happening in the beginning, as it evolved it just became that. But it’s really nice because we haven’t lived there for years, so coming back there and writing music where we wrote our first record, it’s a nice homage.
HAPPY: Nice, and so you’ve pretty much mastered the music side of things. But if you could choose one skill other than music to be the best in the world at, what would it be?
GUS: Probably woodwork or joinery. Just being able to make shit with wood, I have no idea how to do that but as I get older I’m like, ‘That’d be really cool to be able to do’. So, I’d like to do that.
LUKE: Yeah anything handy would be good, besides music. But one thing that I would also like to do is be a rally car driver.
HAPPY: Oh nice, nice.
GUS: That answer is way cooler than mine! [laughs]
LUKE: [laughs] I’ve been following this kid on Instagram, Oliver Solberg I think his name is, and I can’t remember who he’s driving for, but he’s like the next gen rally kid coming up. Dude’s like 17 and he’s driving these cars down these fucking roads at 150 k’s an hour. He’s a fucking nutcase, and I’m like, ‘That… that’d be mad’.
HAPPY: Yeah nice.
LUKE: Yeah, really dangerous, but really fun. If I ever got invited to sit in the front seat with him, I’d be fucking shitting my pants.
HAPPY: Have you ever done one of those hot lap things?
LUKE: No, no, never! I should start there. Then maybe I’ll be like ‘Actually I don’t want to be a rally driver’.