Taking the World: An Interview with Flume

If you haven’t heard of Flume, then you are long due for a rude awakening. If you’re an EDM fan who hasn’t heard of Flume, then we at Lotusland would like to formally congratulate you on waking up from your coma. Now put some headphones on.

Flume first started producing music when he found a production CD in a cereal box as part of a prize (we’re not sure what type of cereal gives those away, so don’t ask). Since then, the 22 year old is the highest-selling native artist in his country of Australia, has already collaborated with big-name rappers like Freddie Gibbs and Ghostface Killah, and has played both Lollapalooza and Coachella—and he’s only released a single eponymous LP.

What’s interesting about Flume’s success is that while he’s followed half of the rules in the book down to the letter, and has unabashedly spat on the other half. Flume’s music is the definition of danceable, already heavily remixed and imitated by a swarm of online producers. But on the other hand, there’s a much deeper level to Flume’s work than simple catchiness. The sounds on his self-titled are unorthodox, unexpected, or just plain interesting. Like contemporaries Justice and Daft Punk, Flume has created a distinctive type of electronica that you can jam out to and ponder at the same time. He’s broken just the right number of rules.

Now, Flume stands poised to jump from Australia and take over the rest of the world’s airwaves. We caught up with the producer the day before he played his set at Lollapalooza to ask him a few questions about his music, his thoughts on piracy, and more.

LotusLand: So, where are you right now?

Flume: I’m in Santiago, Chile, in my hotel room.

And you’re about to play Lollapalooza?

That’s tomorrow, yeah! It’s really cool, my first time here in South America.

How’s touring been since the release of your album?

Well, I’ve been touring for something like 9 months of the year last year, so it’s been really, really hectic. This year I’m toning it down a bit. I had some time off at the beginning of the year. It’s really fun, but I mean, it was a bit overwhelming with the amount of touring we were doing, but this year I think I’ve found a good balance down of touring time and studio time.

On your debut, you worked with everyone to Freddie Gibbs to Ghostface Killah. You’ve played with Skrillex, the XX want to work with you, but who do you want to work with moving forward?

That’s something that’s asked a bit, and really it’s constantly changing—who I want to work with. I don’t want to name any names, but I definitely have a few people on my radar at the moment, possibly for the next record.

Speaking of Ghostface, how did you end up collaborating with a member of the Wu-Tang Clan?

Well you know, really, that was pretty brilliant. I still don’t believe it myself. Basically, this guy from the U.S who we were in contact with helped us get a lot of contact with that kind of world…. So we went around talking to a lot of these big rap guys and Ghostface got back and was really excited about that Space Cadet track, and wanted to be featured on it. So that’s really how it came about.

When most musicians talk about piracy, they throw a Metallica. But you’ve actually said piracy has helped you.

Yeah, I’ve grown up in an age where I’ve always downloaded music—and I still do it all the time. And my manager’s gonna hate me for saying that. But the thing is, a lot of the music that I like won’t be on iTunes or Spotify, or it’s not released yet, so I’ll just rip it from somewhere. I guess that’s the way I listen to music. You know, I’ll buy a lot of records or albums that are out, but I’ll also download a lot of individual tracks. It’s just the way I’ve grown up and it’s the way it works. I really don’t mind it, to be honest, as long as you share it around with your friends. If I really love an artist, I’ll go buy their record, I’ll get their T-shirt, I’ll go see their show. I guess I kinda see music as more of an advertisement, with you promoting yourself.

We’ve heard the story about you finding a production CD in a cereal box when you were 13, but your first instrument was the saxophone. What makes the saxophone awesome?

It really does just have a really nice sound. It’s also just really fun to play, so that’s the real gist of it.

You’ve said your favourite part of producing is the melody. What makes a perfect melody?

A perfect melody? Well that’s a good question, I wish I knew so I could just do that everytime. If there was a pattern then it’d be a lot easier. As it is you have to try new things every time. Sometimes the melodies suck, and sometimes they don’t. Somethings I like to work on are big, spacey songs, trying to find some really strange grooves and rhythms that shouldn’t really work, interesting sounding kickdrums, high-hats, and percussion. It’s scrolling through hundreds of samples trying to find the perfect sound.

You’ve cited Flying Lotus as being your biggest influence, but what other producers inspire you?

Jamie XX. Big fan of his stuff. I’m a big fan of that TNIGHT project. Cashmere Cat. All of them are really inspiring. And also a lot of these new producers coming through and doing really interesting stuff.

A lot of musicians go through a few names before deciding on their stage name. What was the worst name you ever had before Flume?

I used to write music, like, electric bangers under the name HEDS. That was when I was 14 or something.

What’s next?

Basically, I want to write another album. I kinda want to write a few albums before I can chill out. I don’t think there’s going to be any new remix stuff for now.  I guess I’m just trying to enjoy it all, and embrace the lifestyle I’ve got at the moment. Make the most of it, really! I just want to keep making music. Working with it, changing it, trying to evolve the sound of it. As far as the new stuff I’ve done, I think it’s definitely stepping away from the old Flume. There’s a new sound coming through. It’s still got that old Flume sound… but it’s definitely starting to take a different form, which is nice.

Flume plays the PNE Coliseum on April 18th as part of the Season’s Festival. The show is sold out , but you can find Flume’s full touring schedule here

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