RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Jon George Talks Meditation and Indigenous Music Ahead of Irving’s Concert
It may not be obvious, but meditation can be essential to making music. Whether it’s going fishing or more traditional guided breathwork, creative minds need to become one with themselves in order to unleash their creativity. If you ask Jon George of Australian electronic music trio RÜFÜS DU SOL, who are due to perform at the Toyota Music Factory pavilion in Irving on Saturday November 20, meditation may even have saved the band.
“Trying to calm down is a pretty hard thing without blowing off steam with alcohol or whatever,” George says of dealing with the constant stress of mass performances. “In 2019 we were doing our own kind of therapies, trying to calm ourselves down, especially as the shows got bigger, played in front of 20,000 people. I think it came out of necessity in a way. We were a band for over 10 years, and touring takes a lot out of you and it gets chaotic. As the band grew in success, we kept being pulled in different directions, losing sight of why we made music a certain way, just losing our sense of ourselves somehow. manner.
George says that just before the pandemic, the band came together with a new mindset to record what would become their fourth album, Abandonment.
“During Joshua [Tree National Park] journey and the process of writing this record, we all realized that meditation was a great way for us to bond and start our days,” he says. We use meditation as a kind of start to the day, but also afterwards, we would reflect on all kinds of grievances. Just figuring out how to fix everything that happened over the past 10 years that we weren’t happy with. We found a great starting point for this and everyone came from a quiet place to become better bandmates and reconnect.
This meditative mindset, George says, caused him and his bandmates to reconnect not only with themselves spiritually, but also with native music, which he says strengthened his belief. in the power of the hypnotic qualities of dance music.
“I think the repetitiveness and the mantra go way back in indigenous cultures,” he says. “I found what I love in blues and roots music; I can see where we are in the world of the music industry right now, and we’re still looking for a special kind of connection and feeling with what we do. We have our niche, trying to move the electronic world forward, but it’s all based on a similar base of feel. I like this idea of being loop-based and repetitive, being able to go up and down different scales. That’s what I like in music. »
As Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts pointed out in a recent interview with the Observersimple repetition in music is intrinsically ingrained in our existence, which is why groove and dance-oriented music appeals to us so much and why Daft Punk music is eternal, at least according to George.
“One hundred percent,” he says of the now defunct legendary French house duo. “They were huge, especially for me getting into electronic music. There was a period when I was able to delve into their catalog with [the album] Homeworkhave seen their careers develop and have been able to see them perform live.
Much like fellow Australian sound experimenters Dead Can Dance, RÜFÜS DU SOL is inspired by the sounds of Indigenous American and Australian music without drawing directly from it.
“I just came back from a breathwork session we were doing this morning, we were listening to a bunch of indigenous music from different cultures,” George says. “There was didgeridoo music from Australian cultures that the host was playing. He introduced us to a bunch of different music from South America, and I certainly resonate with that. It’s very good for the meditation. There are a lot of great sounds and textures in this kind of music, I really like it.
“With what we were listening to this morning, South America in particular, there were these long, repetitive mantras. There’s something so infectious about it. As long as we don’t steal someone’s ideas and we’re just influenced by that, I think that’s a really cool place to start.
The band doesn’t adhere to a rigid touring set, which allows them to morph and add sounds they pick up or create on the road.
“We like being able to have freedom with the live set and being able to add additional material,” says George. “We’re often influenced by other people’s gigs, different electronic artists in particular, how they’re able to go from song to song, kind of creating these remixes of songs that I often use as model. Like the Daft Punk live show and the Radiohead live show. I’ve seen them a bunch of times and seeing them represent their material, it’s not just word for word of the record.
Alongside (and perhaps because of) the group’s interest in meditation, RÜFÜS DU SOL revisited material from the past as part of the process of creation and relaxation.
“We have our niche, trying to move the electronic world forward, but it’s all based on a similar sentiment base.” –Jon George
“With this particular record, we were in Joshua Tree and the whole world went into lockdown,” George says. “We just used that time to get into a good rhythm routine, and part of that routine was that we would get up in the morning, do a meditation together, do a gym session, and during that gym session we would revisit old albums — whether they were recommended to us or have stood the test of time. It kind of inspired us to look at what was timeless, and a lot of us were trying to remember the throwbacks that we liked, the kinds of sounds that inspired us. We do a lot of that.
George recommends meditation to everyone, not just those seeking spiritual enlightenment or stress relief. He is an avid follower of a meditation teacher named Sarah Blondin through an app the whole group uses called Insight Timer, the basis for their guided meditations and breathing exercises.
“She comes from a place where she explains the trials and tribulations of her life and how she was able to deal with them…this will be the beginning of the meditation and then she will walk you through a bunch of different breathing patterns .,” he says. “We would do it in the desert in the morning, and I think being in a beautiful setting really helps – being present and ready for it rather than letting your mind wander. You have to be in the right headspace to start the process. .
Much like how the Australian band immersed themselves in the world of indigenous and popular American music, George has a soft spot for Australian rock icon Billy Thorpe, who has eluded American success except for a little rock hit titled “Children of the Sun”.
“I’ve read his two autobiographies,” says George, adding that he’s surprised the American journalist knows one of his home country’s heroes. “He lived an interesting life. I liked his autobiographies a lot because he tells the story of the Australian music industry at the time. Not to mention his worst experiences. It’s an icon.