Empire of the Sun are one of the bigger breakout success stories to come about in the Australian music industry in recent memory. Propelled by the success of their first album, the duo now reside in Los Angeles where they collaborate with the likes of Beyonce and Lindsey Buckingham.

However, the collaboration between The Sleepy Jackson’s Luke Steele and PNAU’s Nick Littlemore is an uneasy one. As a new profile in the Sydney Morning Herald reveals, there are tensions between the two creative masterminds behind the epic space operas.

Littlemore describes Empire of the Sun as Steele’s reason for being, despite the fact that Littlemore writes all of the lyrics and much of the music. But Littlemore doesn’t actually want to tour that music, unlike Steele who does. Littlemore is too busy making “millions” producing for other artists.

As a result, it’s often hard to persuade Littlemore to join Steele for the live shows and Steele feels “underused”, since his creative partner is constantly involved in various side-projects, such as a new record label he recently launched.

Littlemore “wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $1 million”, Steele explained in a 2013 interview. “He said to me ‘when there’s real money on the table give me a call.’ If $1 million for five shows is not real money I don’t know what is,” the Sleepy Jackson frontman said.

As the scribe behind the Fairfax profile notes, it’s strange to see a project where the collaborative element is such a prominent part of the band’s identity, yet behind the scenes the two collaborators are apart more often than they are together.

“But we always understood the music superceded our egos and our personal relationship,” Littlemore told the paper. “If we can make something beautiful, it’s worth it.” You can read the full profile via the Sydney Morning Herald right here.