Images by Shaughn Crawford & John DuBois
Interview by Shaughn Crawford
—Flume“The LA Beat Scene is pretty much what inspired the Flume project.” — Flume
Born in Sydney, Harley Streten is best known as Flume, the electronic artist who released his self–titled 2012 debut album to outstanding critical acclaim. He has since won numerous awards, among them four ARIA’s including Best Male Artist and Producer of the Year (2013). Flume has since released a Lockjaw EP collaboration with Australian musician Chet Faker, and spent the start of 2014 touring internationally. You can find him here.
Born in Oregon, Shaughn Crawford is a Los Angeles-based photographer who studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Shaughn’s work can be seen in several notable publications including Rolling Stone, GQ and SF Magazine. He maintains his work in advertisements, album artwork, music videos, editorials and documentary projects—explore it here.
A independent record label, touring agency, and music publisher based in Sydney, Australia.
A youthful and wide-eyed 22-year-old sits backstage at Club Nokia in Downtown Los Angeles. He’ll headline three sold out shows at this venue alone.
Harley Streten is the Australian-born artist Flume, whose career started at the age of 13 when he received music making software in a box of cereal. He began making beats and house music, eventually signing with Future Classic in 2011. In the matter of three years, he has gone from a blossoming beat-maker to one of the top EDM producers in the world.
Between Flume’s jet-setting to shows all over the world, I was able to sneak in a quick chat.
An indie folk band founded by Justin Vernon, whose acclaimed debut album For Emma, Forever Ago (2007) was recorded during three months in a cabin in Wisconsin. In 2012, Bon Iver won two Grammys for their second album Bon Iver.
Shaughn Crawford: How did you create the name Flume?
Flume: “Flume” is actually the name of a Bon Iver song, but the real reason why I named it Flume was because it’s short and sweet. I also love typography and I knew it would look tight in all capitols on t-shirts and posters.
SC: How would you define your style and what do you feel makes your music so unique?
F: It’s a combination of a lot of things. I would say I always find it difficult to define my style because it is always changing and growing. I guess I would describe it as electronica and experimental. I would also describe it as having the “euphoricness” of trance encased in a more tasteful medium that is heavier.
SC: In previous interviews you mentioned that the LA hip-hop scene was a source of inspiration. Who are some of your favorite LA hip-hop artists?
LA Beat Scene
The beat scene emerged from Los Angeles-based Low End Theory, a kind of weekly producers’ showcase/club in LA’s Lincoln Hights neighborhood—the epicenter of the city’s instrumental hip-hop scene. Founded in 2006, Low End Theory became the launchpad for various popular electronic artists.
J Dilla, given name James Dewitt Yancey, was a DJ, producer, and rapper—one of the music industry’s the most influential hip hop artists. He emerged from the mid-1990’s underground hip-hop scene in Detroit, Michigan, his hometown, and worked with a number of big-name acts. He died in 2006 in Los Angeles.
Born in LA’s Winnetka neighborhood, Steven Ellison is known by the stage name Flying Lotus, an experimental multi-genre producer, electronic musician and rapper. He emerged from LA’s hip-hop club Low End Theory, and has since released four studio albums, all to increasing critical acclaim.
An electronic musician from Los Angeles, given name Henry Laufer. He has released one studio album, Bad Vibes (2011), 7 EPs, a whole array of remixes, is the founder of Wedidit, and has collaborated with a slew of artists.
F: The LA Beat Scene is pretty much what inspired the Flume project. I guess it all started with dudes like J Dilla and Flying Lotus who expanded upon that. I was also influenced by artists like Flyer and Shlohmo.
SC: Do you have a favorite place you like to hang out or perform in Los Angeles?
F: I have been to LA a bunch of times, its usually sort of an in and out situation where I play a show and then take off. However, I have spent a little time in Venice doing some writing out there.
SC: Who are some people you want to collaborate with in the future?
An English indie pop band from London whose members include Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft, and Jamie Smith (later of Jamie xx fame). Their debut album, xx (2009), was self-produced and gained them a massive following and universal critical acclaim. Their second album, Coexist was released in 2012.
F: I think it would be cool to work with Oliver from The xx. I have always liked his voice a lot.
Born Dennis Coles, Gostface Killah is rapper and prominent member of the Wu-Tang Clan, who went on to release critically acclaimed solo work. He is known for his fast-paced, loud, narrative rap, which uses emotional, stream of consciousness storytelling, cryptic slang, and non-sequiturs.
SC: Who is the most significant artist that has reached out to you about collaborating?
F: There are a few people that aren’t quite in the bag yet, that we are trying to work with on the next record. But I would say the craziest situation was probably when Ghostface Killah reached out… I was pretty blown away.
SC: How important is it for you to inspire future talent?
F: On the Deluxe record, what we did was give people the stems (the individual parts of the songs) and the reason was specifically for that purpose. I felt like it would sort of demystify what goes on so you can kind of break it down, and see how it all works basically.
SC: After so much success with your first album how do you plan to top that success with you next album?
F: I think what really boosted this project was the remixes. I actually put a lot of time and effort into remixes because I guess that is how we process music now. There is definitely a lot of pressure to perform now, which I had a hard time with at first. For a while I struggled to write because I wanted to make everything an A+, 10 out of 10, and if the song wasn’t working I would scrap it and move on, but that wasn’t really working. I guess the way that works best is to just pour out ideas and a small percentage of those will be rad and you can go from there.
“A lot of DJ’s are getting paid good money
to basically play MP3’s,
which is fucking easy and ridiculous.”
SC: What else are you interested in or inspired by outside of music?
F: I live on the beach in Sydney, Australia and I like to go surfing a lot. That’s good for my creativity and sort of gets me in zone. I think it is important to find a good balance between partying and also trying to be a bit healthier. I feel most creative when I’ve got that balance down.
SC: What was your favorite show or festival that you have played thus far?
F: There is this festival called Calvi on the Rocks which takes place on Corsica, an island off the coast of France. It’s basically 2,000 people, a few different stages and a bunch of people partying on the beach. It’s very unique and a lot of fun.
SC: What has been the biggest change in your life since your album was released?
F: The biggest impact I think is the psychological one. Trying not to have a big head when nobody tells you no. Also, your friends treat you differently, which is probably the most difficult part to get used to.
A Sydney-based electronic group whose name was taken from the mid-90’s PC game Commander Keen, then shortened to the pronunciation of its initials, CK. The band layers real instrumental recordings over synths and electronic percussion.
Australian-born George Maple (a pseudonym) now lives in London, where she is recording her first album – music that meets at the intersection of pop, dance, and soul.
SC: Who do you feel is the best unknown or up-and-coming EDM artist?
F: There is the band called Seekae that’s from Australia and they are super talented. Another one to keep an eye on is a good friend of mine named George Maple. She is actually featured on my first album (on “Bring You Down”) and did a lot of ghostwriting for other artists. But now she’s working on her first EP, which will be dropping pretty soon. She is super, super talented.
SC: You did a big project with Intel. Are there any other brands you would like to collaborate with?
F: We’ve had a bunch of brands approach us for different things but, again, we were very careful about all of that stuff. The Intel project was particularly interesting and that’s why we went with that. I think they dropped over a million dollars on that thing and it was a lot of fun. But I do shy away from linking Flume with big brand stuff unless it’s the right fit.
SC: If you weren’t making music what do you think you would be doing?
F: Probably playing Counter Strike right now… No, but seriously, I would probably be working at a shitty part time job and studying Psychology at Uni.
SC: There are a lot of people that are critical of EDM saying that those artist are not “real” musicians… What do you think about that claim?
F: I think it’s pretty silly and pretty dumb. It’s all music at the end of the day. Also, a lot of EDM producers actually do play other instruments. I was hanging with Skrillex in the studio the other day and he was shredding on the guitar. I also have played the saxophone for the last ten years. I think a lot of older musicians are the ones that are pissed off, but I can see why they would be pissed off. A lot of DJ’s are getting paid good money to basically play MP3’s, which is fucking easy and ridiculous.