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Hermitude is an award-winning, chart-topping production duo consisting of Australian multi-instrumentalists Luke Dubs and El Gusto (aka Angus Stuart). Active since the early 2000s, the pair have crafted an ever-exploratory body of work blending hip-hop, funk, dubstep, and pop, informed by their frequent international touring and life experiences. While hard to pin down to one specific style, their music is always rich, positive, and forward-thinking. Hermitude's first full-length, 2003's Alleys to Valleys, introduced their laid-back, organic style of hip-hop and downtempo grooves. With 2005's Tales of the Drift, they began adding more live instruments to their sound, particularly inspired by Cuban music. Since then, their music has grown more bass-heavy and futuristic, and their worldwide audience has grown exponentially. Delving into trap, glitch, and post-dubstep, the duo's 2015 full-length Dark Night Sweet Light was their first to reach the top of the Australian albums chart, as well as their first to receive an international release.
The pair were in bands together from a very young age -- 16 and 11, respectively. Their first proper band, Funk Injections (following the rule that funk bands must have the word "funk" appearing somewhere in their names), included El Gusto's sister on bass. When a group of local rappers, including Urthboy from the Herd, was impressed by Funk Injections' abilities, the two groups briefly incorporated, performing for a while under the name Explanetary. After El Gusto returned from a trip to the U.S. in 2000 with a set of turntables, the two tried jamming together with Dubs playing keyboard, sans vocals. The combination worked so well that they realized they didn't need anything else and Hermitude were formed.
Signing with the Elefant Traks label founded by the Herd, Hermitude released the vinyl-only Imaginary Friends EP in 2002. The collection of esoteric instrumental soundscapes, with two vocal cuts provided by Urthboy and Ozi Batla, sold out and was not transferred to CD, making it a collector's item. A year later their first album, Alleys to Valleys, was released. The title referred to their move between Sydney and Sound Heaven, a recording studio in the Blue Mountains owned by El Gusto's father, which allowed them to be real hermits half the time. The other half of their time they spent coming down from the mountain to try out their new material in the city's clubs.
The popularity of Hermitude's debut allowed them to earn support billing with touring international acts such as their idol, DJ Krush, and then record Tales of the Drift in 2005. A more percussive Cuban sound was created, inspired by El Gusto's time spent there in his youth. Their first world tour followed, and the duo spent much of their time recording in studios wherever they traveled. That material was collected on the Rare Sightings EP in 2007, initially sold at venues on their return tour of Australia. The CD sold out during the tour and had to go back to press before copies could be released in stores. A year later, they returned with their third full-length, Threads.
After taking some time apart to refuel with other creative endeavors, El Gusto and Dubs reunited in 2011, releasing the single "Speak of the Devil." They quickly followed up with their fourth studio album, 2012's HyperParadise. Buoyed by the popularity of electronic artist Flume's remix of the title track, HyperParadise sold well, garnering Hermitude the AIR Award for Best Electronic Album, as well as the prestigious Australian Music Prize. Two years later, they delivered the single "Ukiyo" and embarked on their first tour of North America. In 2015 Hermitude followed up with their fifth effort, Dark Night Sweet Light, which was led by the single "Through the Roof." The album was easily their most successful to date, debuting at number one on the Australian albums chart, and netting the duo seven nominations at the ARIA Music Awards that year. Following continuous touring throughout 2016 and a relatively quiet 2017, Hermitude returned with "Stupid World," a 2018 single sung by Bibi Bourelly, followed by 2019's "Every Day" featuring Hoodlem. ~ Jody Macgregor
- Blue Mountains, New South Wales,
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