Anna Cieslik ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Harley Streten, better known by his stage name Flume, is taking the music world by storm right now. The Australian DJ and producer has already made his mark on his homeland of Australia, but now he’s bringing his distinct electronic sound to the states and people are paying attention.
Despite an early morning flight into Boston and hardly any sleep the night before, Harley sat down to talk with Emertainment Monthly at Boston Calling Music Festival and greeted us with a beaming smile on his face. He insisted he wasn’t feeling tired and preferred instead to talk about how exhilarating his Boston Calling set earlier in the day was. As the interview progressed, it became clear that Harley’s genuine excitement about Flume is what keeps him going, regardless of how busy he is.
A product of his generation’s do-it-yourself mentality, Harley taught himself how to play music early on. He started producing after getting a music software program in a box of cereal and, luckily for us, he hasn’t stopped making music since then. His dedication has not only resulted in the amazing self-titled album “Flume,” but also a slew of gigs across the world and a platinum accreditation by the Australian Recording Industry Association, among other accomplishments. He even helped make the Australian electronic music scene what is today.
“There wasn’t a huge scene when I started making music,” Harley said during our interview. So what did he do? He made his own scene with a distinct sound based off of the different music he was listening to. “My background is in house music, but I’m really into chill LA beats combined with heavier stuff,” he said, citing producers like Flying Lotus and Jamie xx as some of his influences. As Flume’s popularity skyrocketed in Australia, other Aussie musicians started to take notice of the new producer and helped him expand the continent’s electronic scene into its current state.
That determined attitude has taken Harley far. His songs can be heard everywhere in Australia, and now he’s turning his attention to the lucrative American music scene. But when asked about his success and the crowds at his powerful, beat-driven shows, Harley was quick to acknowledge that America and Australia are quite different.
“It depends on where you are,” Harley said about the types of people coming out to Flume’s shows. “Here [in America], I’m still more underground.” He might just be getting started in America, but people are quickly warming up to him. The crowd at his Boston Calling set was packed with fans new and old grooving to his original tracks like Holdin On and Sleepless, along with his remixes of other musicians ranging from Major Lazer to the Notorious B.I.G.
Harley has a lot of great remixes under his belt, but the young DJ remains specific about what songs he uses. “I’m really, really particular about those things,” he said when asked about how he chooses tracks to remix. “I don’t want to work on something I already think is amazing. I only want to do it if I think I can make it better or take it in a different direction.”
One of Flume’s remixes was even featured on “Verve Remixed: The First Ladies Compilation” alongside tracks by big-name producers like Kaskade and Pretty Lights. Even with all of the already famous acts featured on the compilation, Harley’s remix of Marlena Shaw’s Woman Of The Ghetto more than pulls its weight on the album.
“I really liked the vocals,” Harley said about the original version of Shaw’s iconic jazz track. The remix didn’t come without its difficulties, though. “The song is so old that they didn’t have the separate [music] parts,” he said. This meant that remixing Woman Of The Ghetto came with the added challenge of separating the song’s different layers into workable parts before adding the signature Flume style to it. Thankfully, Harley stuck with the project and separated everything out himself, providing him with the necessary materials to make an unbelievably fluid remix.
Even with his immense success in the past year, Harley isn’t letting the fame get to him. He still has a crystal clear view for the future of Flume and the music he produces under that name. In fact, Harley is so specific when it comes to Flume’s sound that he created a side project with fellow producer Emoh Instead called What So Not to explore his other musical influences that stray too from Flume’s style.
“Flume’s all about the melody,” he explained. “But What So Not is about the heavy stuff.” Harley’s wide range of musical influences can definitely be heard on What So Not’s tracks, which feature a much heavier bassline and a deeper house sound mixed with some trap music elements. With so many DJs today coming out with side projects that sound unnervingly similar to their already established sound, Harley’s rigid divide between Flume and What So Not is a welcome escape.
Despite everything going on in the busy world of Flume right now, Harley is showing no signs of slowing down. “I’ve got an EP with [musician] Chet Faker coming out soon,” he said excitedly. The two Australian musicians have been touring together for a while now and if the already released Flume tracks featuring Faker serve as any indication, the EP is not going to be one to miss. Harley isn’t stopping with that collaborative EP either. He’s already thinking about the potential opportunities awaiting Flume and the new music he wants to create.
When asked about other artists he wants to work with, Harley let a smile escape between drags of his cigarette and said, “I really like AlunaGeorge’s sound.” The London duo’s sound is very similar to Flume’s and would be a perfect match for Harley’s laidback, thought provoking beats.
Regardless of where the future is taking Flume, there is no doubt that he’s got even bigger things his way as Americans welcome his music with open arms. His sound adds a new depth to the world of American electronic music that is so driven by club bangers and heavy bass. Flume proves that electronic music isn’t just for Saturday night anymore and Emertainment Monthly is very excited to see what he still has in store for us.