Seated backstage at a Clash Magazine photoshoot, Harley Streten is almost sickeningly young.
Recording under the name Flume, his productions - a mixture of blissful house tones and a palpable sense of introspection - have become a cause du jour online, winning praise from some genuine heavyweights. Assured, diverse and extremely confident it comes as no small surprise to learn that the artist behind the album is barely out of his teens...
Putting his time in the UK to good use, Flume dropped by Boiler Room to play an outstanding live set last night. With a sold out show in London's XOYO to look forward to tonight, ClashMusic have decided to rifle through our archives for a very special one off preview.
Taking part in our Ones To Watch section, Flume took the time to explain his approach, his influences and his future plans in some detail. The finished article will be online shortly after the release of our next issue, but until then we are able to bring you a few choice excerpts.
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What initially drew you towards electronic music?
What happened was, is that when I was ten, eleven years old I was shopping in the supermarket with Dad and there was this cereal and on the box it had a CD which had a basic music making program. So I saw that and I thought, hey that sounds kinda cool! I got Dad to get me the cereal, took it home and plugged in the computer... I just started seeing how drums are on one track, synths on another, the bass on another – how the music was all separated like that. Then when you heard it, it was all one thing. It blew my mind! Ever since then I’ve done it as a fun thing, until the last year it’s always been a hobby of mine. Now, it’s become an actual job – which was the plan the whole time.
Flume seems to have gained momentum across the past 18 months, what's fuelled this?
I came out of school and for about six months just fucked around playing computer games, not doing anything and then I decided that I really wanted to make this music thing happen. I want to make a living off doing this. So I deleted all my games and focussed on the music for the last two or three years and things just really started to happen after that. I always felt that I had the skills, as a producer I was quite confident in my ability but it was really just finding that sound, my own sound which took time. Also, finding the right people. I’m working with Future Classic now, and I feel really lucky for them to be the ones to pick me up. If I was picked up by a major label or anything other label in Australia, really, for me I don’t think there’s any better home than Future Classic. It’s a really lucky thing that happened.
There's a really introspective side to what you do...
It’s something which came about naturally. I think for Flume, my intention was to write music for headphones – on the bus, y’know. I feel like the energy that’s come from it initially has been because of my musical upbringing. My entire musical history has been dance music. It was like trance or electro or whatever – basically, I’ve listened to dance music all my entire life. As well as Moby, rock bands and stuff. It’s quite a big background but it’s always been dance music. I think, me making these relaxed tunes the club thing just comes through. It’s great because that means it opens two markets.
Flume's success is down to viral effect, something gradual but significant - what was that like for you?
It’s been a crazy mind fuck of a year for me. From the beginning it was.. we had no expectations. It wasn’t your typical.. it had a bit of a strange sound. I didn’t expect people to like it so much, so to see the actual reaction online was pretty overwhelming. It made me really excited, every morning I’d wake up and I’d look at my SoundCloud and there’d be more plays and the Facebook would have extra likes. It’s been crazy. I think it’s really good that it’s been an organic thing rather than someone from a major label putting $100,00 into a marketing campaign. It’s just spread online. Stoked.
You're also working with Emoh on the club project What So Not, can you tell us a little about that?
It’s all happening. We’re doing an American tour round about South By time. It’s been doing great, we did a bootleg of Major Lazer’s ‘Get Free’ and Diplo picked it up and totally loved it. He signed it to the label and it came out on vinyl, which was a big thing for us. Ever since then we’ve been playing round Australia and now we’re looking to take it overseas. With me doing the Flume thing as well it’s quite hectic dividing time. Chris, the other guy I work with on What So Not, he loves to party. He’s an amazing DJ, that’s his thing, so he’ll probably take control of it.
It sounds like you've been incredibly busy, have you enjoyed being able to explore different countries, different environments?
Being in completely different environments, the main thing for me being creative is not having too much routine. When you’re in a new environment every day it’s a thrill. I just need time off it’s a great headspace to be in. I feel lucky that I haven’t grown up 20 years ago making music when you had to have a big studio and stuff and those guys worked that way. I’ve been brought up knowing that if you have a laptop and a pair of headphones then you can do music, it’s really.. it’s great to be able to sit down in a cafe and make some music.
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Flume is set to release his self-titled debut album through Transgressive on February 18th. The producer is set to play a sold out show at XOYO tonight (January 24th).