In THE LOOK, OC friends drop by to try on our favorite new arrivals and chat about their latest projects. This week, OC's Ava Nirui interviews Flume.
It's hard to grasp Flume’s success when considering his humble beginnings. Unlike other pre-teens whose after-school priorities were going for a surf or hitting up World of Warcraft
on Windows XP, Flume, also known as Harley Streten, was actively experimenting with electronic textures, applying influences from Aqua to Flying Lotus to his distinctive beats and remixes. Today, the Aussie's visceral sound, reminiscent of '90s Bay Area electronica, plays like an aural narrative, with each track inciting strong emotions in the listener.
The trailblazing “bedroom producer” has gone on to become a national treasure within Australia’s flourishing EDM scene, collaborating with prominent international artists including Disclosure, Lorde, and Freddie Gibbs
. His self-titled release even trumped One Direction and Justin Bieber on the Australian charts, resulting in a highly entertaining Twitter beef between the gratified young producer and an army of disgruntled teenyboppers. We linked up with the chart-topper at Red Bull Studios, where we reminisced on Aussie slang, Sydney's thriving electronic music scene, and Vegemite cravings.
AVA NIRUI: Congratulations on selling out all of your shows in New York...
FLUME: Thank you!
It’s pretty amazing. So, you played a show last night—how do you think your American fans compare to your Australian fans?
The thing is, the bigger you get in a territory, the broader the audience gets—so basically the USA feels like Australia now. Before, my fans were SoundCloud nerds or real “music lovers.” Now, because we are doing three nights at Terminal 5 playing to nearly 9,000 people, the crowd gets a lot broader.
How do you think being based in Australia has influenced your sound? Do you think it was challenging breaking into the international scene?
Well, I live in the equivalent of Venice Beach, a suburb called Manly, in an area called "The Northern Beaches." It’s a beach just outside the city, so I’m not in the center of the city, where there’s music everywhere. I was always online listening to a lot of dance and electronic music in general, and the fact that there wasn’t a strong scene meant that I just did my own thing, instead of trying to fit into a sound.
And do you think you had any musical inclinations when you were growing up in Australia?
Yeah, I used to always listen to really bad music. I had this compilation CD called Skitz Mix
, and it was like “happy hardcore” style. Just super-fast, really bad stuff.
Do you remember your first CD?
I do. [Laughs] Remember Aqua
? That was the first CD I bought, with my own money! And, I remember also buying Daft Punk’s Homework
for my friend’s ninth, [then I] branched out and listened to all sorts of stuff.
What sort of artists are you currently influenced by, Australian or non-Australian?
Right now, I’m listening to this electronic dude, Jon Hopkins
. He’s really dark and brooding. I listen to a lot of weird shit.
That makes sense, since you dabble in many different genres, from indie to hip-hop. What is your preferred style to mix?
I don’t really consciously think about it, to be honest. I have such broad influences, from Aqua to Flying Lotus
[laughs], really. And that’s why I’m really non-biased. I find there are a lot of people, for example, who are metal purists, who don’t listen to anything other than metal. Or people who only listen to deep house. I am very much the opposite of that.
Obviously, Australia has a thriving music scene with talented artists like Chet Faker, Ta Ku, and Wave Racer emerging. Are there any new Aussie artists on your radar right now?
There are lots of good stuff. There’s a new group called Seekae
. They’re about to release a record. I’ve heard it—it’s really great! There’s a dude called Kilter you should definitely check out. It’s funny how in America lots of producers are channeling a similar vibe. It’s awesome though when people ask me this question about Aussie artists! They never used to ask me before, so when they do I’m like, “Yes!"
You appeal to a lot of different people, from the shirtless guy at the festival to the SoundCloud nerd—how do you think you keep a balance between being underground and mainstream?
People always think I have these tactics, and that I really think about this stuff. I just write whatever comes to my head, and it’s been working. I have a really good team around me, and I really don’t think that far into a lot of things. There is obviously a lot of pressure from record labels to make music to sound a certain way. Doing what I want to do has got to me to this point, so I’m going to do that again.
Is it surreal playing with artists that you grew up on, like The Presets and Cut Copy?
It’s so surreal! I feel like I haven’t done enough to be playing with them. I’m on bills with Cut Copy
, and I’m like on the same level as them on the poster! And they have like three or four records! Like what the hell? It’s so rad, and so good to rep Australia in the big states.
What’s your favorite Australian slang word?
It might be a little too rude for this interview. [Laughs] There are a few. I like the word “darren,” which means cigarette.
Wow. I’ve never heard that one. I’ve heard of a cigarette being called a “duzza”?
Oh yeah, there’s “duzza” and also “dart.”
My favorite is “pinger,” which means “molly.”
Yeah! You know the word dinger [molly]? The best one is ding-ray. [Laughs]
Let’s play a word association game. Just say what comes to your mind when I say the following:
"Ah, I miss that! Whenever I am on tour, I really miss it! Really! I need to buy some before I leave next time."
"Beautiful green fruit"