"It's been pretty surreal, especially with the response that the Sleepless EP received,” young Sydney beatmaker Harley Streten – better known as the Bon Iver-honouring Flume – begins on his hectic last 12 months on the Australian electronica scene. “For the past eight years I have been writing music in my bedroom for myself and friends. Nothing's changed. Only now I'm getting paid to do it and thousands of people all over the world actually want to hear it. For me, it's insanity.”
Understandably so, as pretty soon after he debuted tracks from the aforementioned EP on triple j Unearthed, things have gone fairly quickly in the upward direction. He's also struck at a great time, when downbeat, soulful electronica is experiencing a healthy surge thanks to international artists like James Blake, The Weeknd, Mount Kimbie and SBTRKT. Locally he leads the charge alongside the likes of Seekae, Galapagoose, Chet Faker, Oliver Tank and more.
Streten puts down the popularity of this music to a general broadening of horizons amongst the dance music community, with some help from the instant access area that comes with the interwebs. “I guess people seem to be a lot more open-minded when it comes to music these days, thanks to the Internet. It's something that sounds new and fresh, a style of music that has room to grow and evolve,” he offers, before pointing out the scope of his own music isn't limited to beat-heads alone. “I feel a lot of the music I'm making right now is a style that's quite accessible to a wider audience, rather than just the people who are heavily into the beats/electronica scene – something that most people can appreciate, bridging the gap between your average punter and the hardcore electronic music fan.”
Streten has Kellogg's to thank for getting him into production – at the ripe old age of 13, no less. “Kellogg's had a promotion going on and inside each box of cereal; a CD with a music making program on it. I took it home, installed it and since then have been hooked.” Really hooked, it seems: “Every day I'm working on music, it's an addiction. I actually think I enjoy making music more than I like listening to it.”
Around the same time he was also getting into trance music: “It was the first time I really fell in love with a certain style of music.” Fortunately, the trance obsession didn't develop into any Tiesto-like dreams, however. “When I talk about trance being a big influence, it's more about the typical trance melodies and chord progressions rather than actual genre itself,” he clarifies.
“A good example would be someone like M83. To me the powerful, lush melodies he often uses feel like typical trance music, just projected through his own style. With a lot of the new material I'm aiming to bring back these elements but through a different vehicle, leaving the cheesy 140bpm, doof doof, hands-in-the-air vibe behind and giving it a fresh face with more of a chilled, beatsy, hip hop approach.”
The new material he speaks of is a full artist album that he's been working on over the past year, and as you can imagine with the positive responses to Sleepless and his more recent remix of New Navy's Zimbabwe, Streten is pretty excited. “It's finally all coming together. Most of the tracks are pretty close to complete, right now I'm going back and forth with vocalists and doing a heap of fine-tuning. So much has happened in such a short amount of time with so few tracks being released under the Flume moniker. I can't wait to see the reaction this album gets.”
It's obvious that, as busy as these recent times have been, things are only going to get crazier as the album drops. And with US and Europe tours “definitely on the cards”, Streten wants to make sure the live set is top notch. “We are working on setting up a really visually engaging light show that moves to the music, syncing up with the audio coming through the speakers.”
This week new sets drop from Thy Art Is Murder, Refused, Batpiss and more.