Aussie electro beat maker Flume (aka Harley Streten) has been garnering quite a bit of attention with his undeniably contagious tracks. At just 21 years old, Flume has been called an electronica/indie genius, taking on music venues around the world.
But don’t let his age faze you. His self-titled debut album was described by Rolling Stone as “scarily close to perfect” and went platinum in less than five weeks after its release. Did we mention his album also sold more copies than One Direction or Justin Bieber in Australia? That’s brush-the-dirt-off-your-shoulder worthy.
His unconventional approach to mixing involves taking elements from mismatched genres, from hip hop to straight up pop—Streten is open to it all. We managed to pin him down to answer some of our questions about his beat-making process, influences, dream collaborations, and to see what all the hype was about. Starting with moving his studio out of his childhood bedroom, the hungry producer isn’t slowing down.
Let’s start from the beginning. When did it all begin?
Probably when my next-door-neighbor’s older brother would play a whole bunch of trance music. I’d go over there when I was nine or so and I’d hear all this music that he was playing, which I guess I hadn’t been exposed to. I’d hear this crazy trance music and I totally got into it. I started bringing CDs over for him to burn new music onto every week.
Do you remember the first record you ever bought?
Well, the first record I ever bought was Aqua featuring some of the singles [like] “Barbie Girl”, “Doctor Jones"… a few other ones there (laughs). That was the first I ever bought with my own money. I’ve listened to Moby for a long, long time—since I was very young to quite older. Also, one of the first records I was ever given was Deep Forest, which is a pretty wild kind of record. It’s world music, so a lot of African scene and stuff like that.
Word on the street is that you got your first taste for mixing from a toy you found in a cereal box at the age of 11. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Yes, the cereal box thing is true. It was like a little gimmicky music program that the cereal had in it—Nutri-Grain to be exact. It was one of those free giveaways. I was pretty young at the time and I thought it sounded pretty cool, so I got my dad to get the cereal for me. I took it home and installed it. And I thought it was really cool—the whole concept of how there was the drums on one track, the synth on another, and the bass on another. And if you joined them all together, it would make a full song. I’d never thought of music being laid like that. When I saw how it worked, I became really interested and started poking around.
Growing up, you played the saxophone. When did you make the transition into electronic music?
I played the saxophone throughout school, but I had always been into electronic music. I guess the reason I didn’t continue playing it is because I can’t really play the music that I’m into on it, you know? But I’m thinking about trying to incorporate more in the future with the new music. I’d like to add that kind of live element on stage if I could. I think it’d be pretty cool.
Do you think your music has evolved since you began producing?
Totally. When I first started writing music, I was writing heaps of 140 beats per minute, like euro trance. Really cheesy. And then, it developed into writing a huge range of genres, be it pop music, crazy orchestral pieces with no drums, really experimental stuff, R&B, indie, disco—literally everything. The thing is I like all kinds of music. I think that gave me the flexibility as a producer to understand how all these genres work. And therefore, I could take the best elements of each genre and put [it] into one.