Flume is the hottest act in Australia right now. We met him to talk about the way he works, the changes in his life and a new generation of producers.
It’s Sunday at the Roskilde Festival, early afternoon and the sun is shining down brightly from the sky. These are unusual circumstances for Flume to go on stage. Back home in Australia he has the headliner slots and pulls the masses. But the boy from Sydney doesn’t even seem to care. His energetic show heats up the crowd in front of the Apollo stage despite the optimal weather and makes it clear why he’s one of the hottest acts back home. Right after the show we meet him for an interview. While sipping on a can of Tuborg, Harley Straten gives us an inside view into the life of 21-year old who many claim to be one of the most talented producers worldwide right now.
artistxite: As I hardly ever have the chance to interview someone right after the gig, I really have to ask the question: How did you like it?
Flume: That was a lot of fun! It reminded me of Parklife which I played in Australia maybe eight months ago and I had a daytime set like this. It was kind of a similar stage and similar people. Usually, I find it hard to play during the daytime just because of the fact that you can’t hide in the darkness. You’ve got to interact with the audience. For some reason today I was just in the right mood before going on and that wasn't hard at all. It felt really good today.
artistxite: Don't you miss the lightshow?
Flume: (laughing) Definitely! Usually we have a big lightshow. And I don't know how the prism in front of me worked out there, but I don't imagine you can really see much going on. So that prism is really bright and it's like infinity, it looks like it goes on forever. So yeah, it was less impressive. A little less lights today.
artistxite: I was a little bit irritated because of the Major lazer track in your set.
Flume: It's the "Major Lazer – Get Free (What So Not Remix)". What So Not is me and another guy back in Australia. We make quirky, kinda trippy, weird dance music for clubs. When we tour, we're DJing clubs. But that's the other project. But I like to play that one because it sounds good.
artistxite: What does your other project mean to you?
Flume: Actually it means a lot of work for me doing two projects. (laughing) But it's good because I like making heavy music. Sometimes I like music with a melody and all, and sometimes I just like heavy music just like here and tonight’s kind of music. And as Flume, I like to keep it really melodic and pretty and nice. While What So Not is like my outlet for heavy music.
artistxite: That’s quite a range. What is your musical background?
Flume: I probably started with listening to Trance music. When I was maybe eight or something. My next-door neighbor and me were playing trance music records like Ministry of Sound and for some reason that really clicked with me. I just really liked the music. And from there I've gone and listened to all the styles of music, especially electronic. Maybe in the last four years or something I listened to a lot of Brainfeeder stuff and basically dance music. But I'm also listening to things like Moby and bands like Bloc Party or The Killers.
artistxite: Where do the soul and hip hop influences come from?
Flume: I'm not even a hip hop fan really. I don't really buy rap records or anything. I like instrumental hip hop but I have never been into old school stuff like A Tribe Called Quest or Wu-Tang. It's always been the hip hop influences that come from kind of strange hip hop like Shlohmo, Rustie or Hudson Mohawke.
artistxite: How did you start producing music?
Flume: There was a promotional CD inside this box of cereal. It was like a marketing thing. A simple loop and bass program. I thought that sounded cool so I got my dad to buy one in the supermarket. I installed it and mucked around and I really liked the concept of making music. From then on I had it as a hobby and mucked around and in the last few years it has become a natural go.
artistxite: What programs are you using now?
Flume: Ableton Live. I like to keep it really simple. Just a few plug-ins. I used to have lots of different software and hardware but I find myself just mucking around on stuff and just fucking around, twisting and not getting anything done. So I got rid of a lot of stuff and just use the basics now. But I know everything I have now, I know it inside and out. I know all my synths really well. I can get whatever sounds I want and stuff.
artistxite: Is it important for you to keep a clear direction in your music in order to develop a benchmark sound?
Flume: Definitely! When it comes to the subtleties, I'm really a perfectionist. But when it comes to the musical direction, I'm kind of open to anything. It always has to be of a high standard. I'm really strict with myself. And a lot of stuff doesn't get released because of that.
artistxite: Which musicians are you feeling connected to?
Flume: Recently when I came over to the UK on this tour it has probably been one of the first times that I have really felt kind of connected with other guys that are doing the same thing as me and are in a similar position. Guys that are young like AlunaGeorge, Bondax, Disclosure, Baauer – we're all like in our early twenties or slightly younger and we all feel like we proceed. We all feel we are kind of part of this new, in a way, kind of producers coming through at the moment. So, it's really cool to come over to Europe to these festivals and actually meet these people face to face and just hang out. Cause we all just popped off and we have roughly experienced the same thing, which is kind of fun too. You can't really chat around about some of the stuff to other people because they don’t understand everything about the press and having to be on stage all the time and a new lifestyle. Just everything that comes with it.
artistxite: So how has your life changed for the last two or three years?
Flume: Oh, it's very different. Like, I tour mostly. I'm away from home for nearly nine months of a year now, and if I'm at home, then it’s mostly only on the weekdays. But we feel like, most of us at least, that it's way more intense because you got all your friends at home and everything. And now this is completely new that you know you're always on the road. But we're all quite young and we're all quite eager to make the most of it and while the ball's rolling we feel like we really want to make a go as hard as possible now rather then being: “Ok, I got this far, let's just chill and let things slide and maybe get a few albums out.” We're young, so we can do it!
artistxite: How do you spend your time at home?
Flume: Seeing as many friends as possible. And if I can, relax as well – yes. But usually I'm just working. I've got deadlines for music or remixes. Or the press at home or everything. There's so much more to do like, when I'm on the road, I can't really work that much. It's really just being on the road and touring. So, when I get home, it's the music time but it's also like fuck – I wanna see my friends and family and have time off. Which doesn't really happen. (laughing)
artistxite: You’re posting a lot of pictures on your facebook account. Is that a way to show your friends back home what is happening around you?
Flume: On my personal facebook not so much. It's actually kind of shit because I can't really post anything real controversial on my personal facebook like you normally would. I remember one time I beat One Direction in the charts and on my personal facebook I was like, "Hahaha, beat these little faggots" – just as a joke. But then blogs were posting, "Flume is homophobic" and all that stuff. I can't post anything that's at all controversial on my personal page, which is not personal any more. This is kind of bad. On the main Flume page it is really important to connect to the fans. A lot of just saying what kind of everyday shit happens.
artistxite: When you're back home, do you tell the people about all this weird stuff happening around you on tour? Or do you just say, "I was working"?
Flume: I don't tell them anything really. They know. Back home I play big tours and it's huge at home. Here it's just beginning.
artistxite: Does that feel strange for you?
Flume: So strange. It just feels like me playing Australia nine months ago, a year ago. It was the same crowds. Back at home it's like huge. Huge. And that will be the shows that they know. We did an album tour around Australia. In Sydney we did two nights at the Hordern Pavilion, which is 5000 capacity. It was sold out. In Brisbane, 9000 at a festival just for the album release. So it's got huge proportions over there.
artistxite: Is my information right that you played at the Sydney Opera House? Do you really realize what is going on at the moment?
Flume: Yeah man! That's true! (laughing) That was really nice. I played everything in Australia – everything. I can't really play too much any more because it already feels like I've already played too much in Australia. I feel like I've conquered Australia and that's really good, but now it's time to take the on rest of the world. (laughing)
artistxite: I see you laughing the whole time you're telling this. Is it still strange for you?
Flume: Yeah, I've gotten used to the fact. But it still is a bit odd. It's still a bit surreal.
Follow Up Report - Roskilde Festival 2013