"Which one's Rüfüs?"
I'd like to know how many times the three members of the Australian EDM trio Rüfüs Du Sol have been asked that question in the last eight years.
But when I got Tyrone Lindqvist (the band's photogenic, blonde-haired frontman) on the phone recently, I didn't bother bringing it up. Seems like it'd have been a hefty annoyance rather than a light-hearted intro. Besides, the group (which also consists of Jon George and James Hunt) were days away from releasing their third studio album [it's out now; buy it/listen to it here] and prepping for a headlining tour that brings them through Valley View Casino Center on Halloween, Oct. 31 -- so we had more important things to talk about. After all, dropping a new record is always a monumental event in a musician's life, but it's usually accompanied by competing waves of anxiety and relief. So I asked how he was doing with all that.
"I feel at peace," Lindqvist admitted. "I'm really excited to let go of ['Solace']. There's a sense of freedom in giving it to the world. I don't know how to put it. I think it's like a spiritual moment to just let go of something that is ours, and then for it to become somebody else's. There's freedom in that. It's been ours for a year and a half, and now it's time for it to be other people's."
Odds are extremely good that fans of Rüfüs Du Sol won't be disappointed. "Solace" picks up right where their last two studio albums, 2013's debut "Atlas" and 2016's "Bloom," left off -- an irresistible marriage of euphoric pop and smooth, extremely danceable electro. Far from the DJ-by-numbers tracks assembled by some of the genre's biggest acts, the trio write, rehearse and record as an actual band. And on "Solace," it shows. For the past year or so, they lived and breathed in a four-bedroom house/makeshift studio in Los Angeles -- surrounded by synthesizers, drum kits, guitars, and microphones -- with one goal: making a new album.
"We [wrote] as three friends just hanging out in a giant playground of musical instruments," Lindqvist said. "There wasn't any set process as to how a song would come about ... [We'd just] walk into that room and lose ourselves in this abyss of toys and lose hours playing without too much of an agenda. We had been touring two years for 'Bloom' and 'Atlas' that we were just so hungry to write. So we allocated a whole year to just diving in and creating new music."
And while plenty of DJ/producer acts who headline spots like Coachella's massive dance tents simply press play on a laptop and stay busy turning that one particular knob on a mixer (what is that knob?), Rüfüs Du Sol are part of a new(ish) movement in EDM that puts an emphasis front-and-center on performing with actual analog instruments. Disclosure, Tycho, Cut Copy, Odesza, Mansionair, Chromeo -- they're all out here bringing real, legitimate musicianship into their shows.
"There's an element of excitement in not knowing what's gonna happen -- especially when things can go wrong," Lindqvist told me. "It's really exciting to see the look on people's faces when they come and expect to see maybe a DJ called Rüfüs Du Sol, or Rüfüs, and see three guys onstage playing instruments and talking to the crowd and changing up the songs, and having a level of unpredictability that you just can't get from playing a record -- that feels really exciting ... I don't know why people connect to it but it does feel different."
And with their big Halloween show on the horizon, do they have any big plans (i.e. costumes) in store?
"Well, I think we inherently pretty much wear all black every show so that's very Halloween-ish already," he said laughing. "But I think we're going to make it special. And it's gonna be really fun to be in San Diego to do that. My girlfriend's always been good at costumes so I'm excited to see what she brings out of the closet."
Coincidentally, it turns out that Lindqvist -- who hails from the faraway, exotic land of Sydney, Australia -- actually has a rather special personal connection to San Diego, of all places.
"She's from Encinitas," Lindqvist continued. "We met on Holy Ship [an EDM cruise] actually a year and a half ago in the cafeteria. One morning, we connected eyes and it was really special moment. She walked in the opposite direction, I was telling myself, 'What are you doing? You should definitely go find that girl. Like, you have nothing to lose.' So I went looking for her for five minutes and found her, and I said, 'Hey, do you mind if I join you for breakfast?' And she was like, 'Nope.' [laughs] Small world, right?"