Flume’s debut EP Sleepless took over airwaves and playlists around Australia with its undeniable contagiousness. The title track and EP released by Harley Streten under the moniker of Flume suddenly launched the 19-year-old into a record deal; a series of national sell-out shows and the role of the unofficial face of young, talented Australian electronica producers. Talking to ACCLAIM, Harley talks music from his childhood, admits his partiality for embarrassing genres of music and describes the art behind the remix.
Can you tell ACCLAIM readers about your musical history?
I played the saxophone for about nine years and then gradually production took over as my creative outlet. On the listening side of things my first musical love was the early ’90s trance sound. My next-door neighbour’s older brother used to play it all the time. I was only nine at the time and didn’t know where to find any of it so I’d borrow CDs off of him every week. Since then I’ve always kept an open mind to music, listening to everything from Bloc Party, to Boys Noize, Moby, Radiohead. I even had a little happy hard-core phase in there, which we don’t need to get into (laughs).
You’ve named Flying Lotus as one of your biggest inspirations, but what else has shaped your musical sound?
I’m going to be brief and to the point, because I could drag on for ages about this. Early 90’s trance, the French electro movement. Artists like Moby, The Prodigy, J Dilla, Justice, M83 and Flying Lotus.
Do you think your music has changed since you began producing?
Yeah, enormously. I started out writing straight up 140bpm cheesy trance when I was eleven, then for the next six years or so I was writing a huge range of stuff: hip-hop, piano ballads, heavy electro, indie, dance, pop, super experimental stuff too. It has only been in the last two years or so that I’ve settled down and found my own sound. I think writing in many different styles has made me a much stronger producer, I understand how most genres work. Now I can pick and choose the best of each to make something special.
How have you found playing audiences like Vivid Live and Splendour in the Grass? Is playing at festivals more exciting than the club scene?
I’m quite new to the festival scene, my first proper festival appearance was Splendour in The Grass and that completely blew me away. I’ve been doing a heap of club gigs in the past four months so I’m really excited to get into the festival circuit with Parklife, OutsideIN and Harbourlife all coming up.
Your re-mixes of the likes of Onra and Ta-Ku have been hugely successful, what do you look for to bring out in a track when you re-create it?
There are a few things I’ll always look for when picking a remix. First of all, I think it’s really important to like the track. If you like the track your going to be passionate about the parts and it will give you a great place to start. The second thing – and probably the most important – is that you can hear where you want the remix to go. If you like a song but feel like it hasn’t reached its full potential, that’s when you jump on it. Onra’s The Anthem and Ta-ku’s Higher remixes both went exactly like this. Both tunes made me go “Wow” when I first heard them, but I felt like I could take them further. I figure there’s no point trying to remix someone like The Beatles because you probably can’t make their music any better.
You’ve said “Pirate my music or pay for it – I don’t give a shit, just make sure you come down and party when I’m in town” – do you think it’s more important to support an artist through their live gigs than the ‘traditional’ act of buying their CD?
Look, I mean it’s always nice to have people paying for your music but at the end of the day I just want it to reach as many people as possible. I’d prefer you download it illegally than not download it at all. There are so many artists that I wouldn’t have gotten into unless I’d illegally downloaded their tunes. I really appreciate it if you do pay for my music, but if you’re a young music fan and can’t afford it, go grab it for free.
From being played on Triple J Unearthed to your track Sleepless being featuring internationally by RipCurl, do you ever feel like it [your music career] happened too fast?
It’s definitely happening very fast but I’m loving it. The Rip Curl vid gave me some great exposure over in the US. The sooner I can travel the world with my music the better!
You’re playing the new OutsideIN Festival in November, what can we expect from a live Flume show?
I’m pretty excited about that one. By the looks of the line up it’s going to be a serious music-loving crowd. I’m going to chill the set out a little and get into some of the tunes I don’t usually play out, some of the deeper stuff.
What’s coming up next for Flume?
Next up is a Sleepless re-release on vinyl with a video clip. Then in November the album drops which I’m seriously excited about. After that we plan to take over the world with Europe and America on the cards for next year!