Hermitude: poppin’ freshys and movin’ hips

Self-proclaimed “poker-faced hermits”, originally from the New South Wales Blue Mountains, Luke Dubs and Elgusto ( aka Hermitude ) have re-emerged with a brand spanking new EP Rare Sightings. Since forming in 2002, Hermitude have established a firm standing in the Australian hip hop scene and have built an elite reputation as one of the country’s most innovative acts. Heavily influenced by hip hop, jazz, downtempo, reggae and soul, Hermitude have become synonymous with creativity that thinks outside the square. “Instrumental hip hop best describes us and as far as being different, no other crew in Oz has beards like us,” Luke Dubs confirms.

Between the duo, Hermitude can boast a life-long connection to music and their current situations are testament to this. Elgusto is a drummer/producer/turntablist who has played with The Bird, Wes Carr, Explanetary, The Herd, Urthboy, The Dissociatives and Upshot, on top of Hermitude and regular DJ slots. Luke Dubs is a full-time professional musician who features on keys for such acts as Explanetary, Vassy, Funk Injection and Guache. When pinpointing how it all started for Hermitude, Dubs is crafty. “We formed after a cave we we’re exploring collapsed and trapped us with all our equipment in there for a year. Living off lime residue and ant nests we wrote Imaginary Friends, our first EP. Pretty much living in that cave prompted the name and its meaning is something along the lines of living in a cave sux.”

Like many genres in Australia’s soundscape, hip hop is coasting in leaps and bounds. Being signed to Elefant Traks is advantageous for Hermitude and alongside the likes of fellow label mates Urthboy and The Tongue; it’s a promising sign that the Australian hip hop community is anything but stagnant. “The current scene is snappin’. New bands are gettin’ their crackle on and poppin’ out freshys! That’s all we’re doin’ too – tryin’ to make good music people can get down to.” Hermitude allude to a “hermit technology” which adds to the duo’s crackle. “Ah, the H.T. Let’s just say a year in a cave gives you some pretty crazy angles. It’s all about shapes. I can’t go into it too much – The Hermit Union will revoke my powers and confiscate my formula.”

With special powers and angular beats aside, Hermitude are adamant that Australian hip hop is making its presence felt throughout its community both here and abroad. “Australia can definitely stand on its own two feet among the rest of the world. We just need to spread the love and I think that’s already happening. We’ve toured overseas three times now and the response gets better and better. Expect to see more artists from Oz breaking into the O.S circuit.” Hermitude feel comfortable enough with the O.S touring circuit that the duo became inspired for the recording of Rare Sightings. “For those who don’t know, Rare Sightings was all written last year while we we’re OS. We just wanted to share our trip with our fans in a musical sense. Each track has a different country of origin and it reflects whatever we we’re going through at the time. We also wanted to do a small scale release for the heads before we come out with our third album. It’s a limited release so snap it up while you can, these tracks won’t come out on anything else.” The results have, naturally, attracted promising attention. “We couldn’t bring enough [copies] while we we’re on tour; they flew out the door. DJs have been spinnin’ it in the clubs and the dance-floors have never been the same.”

Melbourne’s hip hop fraternity will therefore be in for one beat-bastic evening at The Corner for the Elefant Traks Tour this week, featuring Astronomy Class, Urthboy, Unkle Ho, The Tongue, Mista Savona and Monkey Mark. Hermitude will be launching Rare Sightings to the fans. “We will showcase the release and also some new live jams we’ve been workin’ on. We always keep it different; we hate to play the same show twice – no short changing at the Hermit Union.” And so what does the foreseeable future hold for Hermitude? “We want to lift our profile both here and overseas, there’s always more work to be done. Keep writing music that makes people feel good, and moves their hips in an uncontrollable manner.”