An Interview With Flume
Flume has been a very busy Aussie lately. We’re only a third of the way into 2014 and he’s already played everywhere from Holy Ship to Coachella (both weekends). On top of all that touring, he’s also just released an awesome remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Court.”
Though some believed he’d be in Miami during WMC as What So Not (himself + Emoh Instead), Flume (Harley Streten) was absent. However, Miamians did get an intimate chance to catch him at Grand Central recently.
Related Reading: (Recap) Flume Hits Up Grand Central on 4/15
I sat down with Flume and asked him about his upcoming work, finding a balance between his solo work and his What So Not, the struggle of finishing music as a producer, and more.
GPS: In an interview with Groovin The Moo, you stated that you want to push the envelope with your music, that you want to push people, and in an interview with The Guardian you stated you wouldn’t mind being mainstream “because more people will hear it.” Where do you stand now in that mindset as opposed to then?
Flume: It wasn’t that I wanted to be mainstream, it was more that I was happy if it crept into the mainstream.
It’s bridging the gap between the underground world and the mainstream world. And if it becomes mainstream I’m totally cool with that because that just means it reaches more people. But its not going to change the music I make.
So I’m just going to do what I do and if it goes mainstream, then fuck yeah! Better than if its underground because more people will hear it, but it’s the same music.
But I’m never gonna tailor my music for more of a mainstream market or more for an underground market, I’m just going to write what I write.
Do you feel as though you accomplished pushing people with Lockjaw?
I think if anything, it was pushing us more than listeners, because we were writing differently. When I was writing with Nick (Chet Faker), beside doing new things, we’d push each other to do things, like he’d push me to play the saxophone and I’d push him to sing.
What really was different about that is that we used concepts to write music. So, for example, “This Song Is Not About A Girl,” the objective with that song was contrast. So we wanted to make like a bitty lo-fi sounding part and in the end it goes hi-fi super awesome big sound stereo. So we went through to find crappy sounding drums and really crappy bass synths and recorded his vocals on this really crappy mic. And in the end it just opened up. So that was the concept, really shit to really awesome.
You have your Flume music and your What So Not Music. How has differentiating the music you make as each moniker been lately?
With the What So Not and Flume stuff, its getting progressively harder to separate the two. So I just write beats, you know? Like “ok, cool.This one sounds like What so not so I’ll give it to What So Not.. This one sounds like Flume, give it to Flume.”
But lately I’ve been trying to hone in on a sound and its come to be kind of in the middle of Flume and What So Not. So I’m struggling to differentiate too much. But I don’t want them to be similar, I want What So Not to have it’s thing and Flume to have it’s thing.
Its a tricky one.
How’s the next album coming along? Anything new you’re bringing to the table that you haven’t before?
The next album is starting to come along, I got a few bits and pieces. What’s really changing is bringing a lot of strings in, no guitars. Like symphony orchestra strings, but still electronic. It’s turning out to be a bit darker than the first one.
It’s shaping up to be a bit darker than the first record (Flume). Like the first one was all over the place, it would have a big pop song, then like a fucked up, weird dubstep-like track, then a hip hop beat. This is more honed in.
I know you aspire to write music in other ways other than for yourself, particularly writing for pop artists and writing film scores. Have you managed to accomplish any of that as of late?
I’m trying to not get too excited and focus on my own self. I want to write a few albums and really establish Flume and What So Not before I go off and write music for other people. It’s something I really want to do, but I want to establish a solid ground. That’s kind of the plan. But yeah, it’s something I really want to do and it’s more to challenge me rather than anything else.
As a producer, do you ever find it difficult to call a track done?
It’s very rare to finish a track and be happy that it’s finished. You have to learn when to stop. Rather than learning how to finish tracks, you have to learn when to pull out and sat “alright, now leave it, now move on because it’s driving me crazy.” So it’s more of a skill of when to just cut it off. Because nothing I’ve done is perfect and I can always hear things I can improve on. You just got to know when to call it, and that’s a very hard thing.
Often spending longer on it doesn’t actually improve the quality, often it does the opposite. It’s called overcooking the track. You get used to the mistakes and then you don’t hear them as mistakes anymore. You lose complete perception of what’s good and what’s bad because you’ve heard it so many times. You need to be consciously aware of when you’re getting to that stage, because otherwise you can just fuck the track up and never get it done.
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