In 2021, Gold Coast electronic music producer Luude remixed Men at Work‘s “Down Under”, one of the most iconic songs in Australian music history, as a drum and bass track.
His modern update received the ultimate seal of approval: Colin Hay recorded new vocals for the club track, enhancing its growing popularity.
Released by Sydney label Sweat It Out, the remixed “Down Under’ placed 65th on last year’s triple j Hottest 100 and more commercial success followed this year. The track peaked at number 10 on the ARIA Singles Chart, while it became Luude’s first UK top 10 entry – and just the second for Hay – when it reached number five in February.
An official music video for the single was released on March 11th and to mark its release, Rolling Stone recently caught up with Luude – real name Christian Benson – to discuss the unexpected success of his bass-heavy “Down Under” remix.
Luude’s “Down Under” is out now.
RS: Let’s take a look at the obvious question to begin with, where did the inspiration for a remix such as this first come from?
Luude: It was honestly just a bit of fun. I was bored in the studio during COVID lockdowns so I just started remixing random songs that you’d probably not usually try, I chucked a snippet online and people just frothed it instantly.
Like most Australians, it would likely be fair to say that the original “Down Under” is something that’s been a constant presence within your life. Do you have any recollection of hearing the original for the first time?
Probably sitting in the back of dad’s car hearing it on radio driving around Tassie back in the day.
There have been a few remixes of “Down Under” over the years, though none as professional as this one. However, this one has the added advantage of having Colin Hay himself re-record his vocals. How did Hay come into the mix, so to speak?
It was initially a bootleg but once it started kicking off a bit the team reached out to see if there was a way we could release it – Colin was an absolute legend about everything and was keen to jump on and do a new version.
From what I’ve seen, Hay recorded his vocals after hearing an original remix of the track. What was his reaction to how the official version sounded like?
Again he was just a legend, he reckons “let kids be kids” which is pretty sick.
Was there any sort of apprehension in taking on a track like this? We all know how Australians can be when it comes to some of their sacred songs being revisited, and this is as close to ‘holy ground’ in the world of Aussie music as you can possibly get.
It was just a bit of fun and anyone who doesn’t like it can still listen to the original so it is what it is.
From my own close listening to it, it sounds like a relatively simple remix, yet is carried by the prominence of the flute. What was the creative process behind this track like? Did you find yourself having to walk the line between a faithful recreation and a club-ready reinvention of the song?
I suppose less is more sometimes. Colin’s vocals are so iconic that I just wanted to put them in fresh production that worked for clubs.
Did you have any sort of idea that it might end up finding an audience, let alone gain such a fervent fanbase so quickly?
No way, I was just stoked that Colin even wanted to jump on. I never ever predicted that it would go this crazy, it’s still a bit of a blur.
Why do you feel this song has resonated so strongly with audiences?
The original is just so iconic, and this just brought it to a younger audience I guess? It’s a classic tune mixed with a bit of fun and people seemed to get around that.
On a similar vein, the track has also managed to hit the top five in the UK. Why do you feel as though it managed to be received so well over there?
DnB is such a UK staple and I suppose the Aussie summer content is cutting through the winter there a bit! Our humour is pretty similar too, so that always helps.
The music video is arguably one of the most Australian things we’ve seen in a long time. What was the planning process for the clip like? It feels so representative of the Aussie identity, yet still maintains a tongue-in-cheek nature to it all.
I just wanted it to be dumb and funny, definitely couldn’t take it too seriously.