[EXCLUSIVE] Flume On Imitation And Refusing To Be Stuck In A Cycle

Flume started his KL show spray painting the words ‘Halo, saya Flume’. Image credit: U-Mobile

If you ever find yourself at a Flume show, expect to be blown away. It’s just as experimental as his sounds, Flume’s artistry is impeccable. It’s more than just another DJ set. You can just see how much thought was put into it and how he seamlessly linked one song to the next, with or without props. Every piece tells their own story.

Flume’s often credited as the pioneer of future bass alongside Lido and Cashmere Cat. He admits that he doesn’t really feel the pressure, “I think people often box me into a category but then I do something new and then they’re like ‘Oh wait, he’s not really that’.  So I never really worry about that because I just change.”

#TeamCLEO caught up with Flume, ahead of his KL show, as he speaks being flattered by imitation and how he refuses to get stuck in a cycle.

Your latest mixtape, Hi This Is Flume is different from your previous work, was there ever a point where you thought to yourself, y’know “what I want to reintroduce my music to everyone”?

Oh yeah, I just felt like I got caught up in everything. I wanted to do something that was really just me having fun. I think I was a bit serious with the ‘Skin’ project, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself so I just wanted to kinda take it back to basics and really just have fun. The mixtape came about and it was just me, experimenting and I had all these ideas and I kinda put ’em all together, and it created this thing that I’m really proud of. 

We read that you often travel when you make your music, is there a reason behind that?

Yeah, I just find that I get caught in thought patterns, y’know the day to day stuff. And when I travel, it breaks that cycle. So if I wanna break a habit, I always just sort of wait till I go travelling. Cause my brain, it thinks differently when I don’t have the same routines. I feel it’s the same when it comes to music — I don’t think the same way, I think of different ways of doing things. So I think travel’s really great. 

So 2019 has been an active year for you, like you dropped two projects and headlined festivals like Lollapalooza and Red rocks. So is playing a festival more exciting than the club scene?

Oh, festivals are great because you have like a big stage but when you’re playing your own shows, it’s often more fun because the crowd is 100% there for you. Whereas for festivals, maybe a quarter are there for you, maybe half, so I think it feels a little bit more personal playing your own shows. I can play like “Deeper Cuts” and people will react. So I think I have more fun playing the more obscure songs. 


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Awwww sheeeiiitt here we go agin #1 #badboy #edm

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So you’ve collaborated with quite a few rappers, like Ghostface killah, Reo Cragun and Jpegmafia. and with hip hop being such a huge genre how has that kind of impacted your style?

I think that the music is pretty rap friendly. It’s just another challenge, it’s one thing writing an instrumental song and then the other like writing a song with a vocalist that sings and then its a whole other thing for me to be writing something for a rapper. I think my favourite thing to do is to try and write something, give it to the person who’s gonna rap on it and then completely throw it out and then write something new that fits around the rhythms and flows of the vocals. So kinda custom fit like a glove for the acapella rather than writing the beat and having them work around the beat. So it’s kinda more like I work around the vocals. 

Do you have a dream collab?

Oh yeah, let’s do a Kanye collab — that would be nice! I’ve always wanted to work with Missy Elliot or Andre 300 would be dope too.

So you have one grammy, you’re headlining festivals and now you’re going on tour, all over the world so what’s left on your bucket list that you’d really like to achieve. 

I think my main objective now is just to be happy. I think I have a tendency to overwork and I kind of put my happiness second and work first. Which I think a lot of people probably have and I felt like the balance got a little bit tipped so I’m putting it back into balance. So yeah, I want to be really happy and enjoying life. So that’s my goal.

Based off the recent work you had come out, from Quits to Hi This Is Flume, it’s totally different from your debut title album so where do you see your sound progressing?

I don’t know. I just get bored easily so I feel like I can never keep doing the same thing. I’m always just trying to like switch it up to keep myself entertained. 

Vera Blue, Flume and Reo Cragun at the KL show

Hi This Is Flume walks a more experimental route compared to more of your previous stuff, so what was it like to explore new sounds and did you discover anything about yourself?

I think with the Hi This Is Flume mixtape was when I realised that I’m actually really into the textures. I feel like I started looking past just writing chords, the melodies and I wanted to do that but also really focusing on the textures. And that’s what Hi This Is Flume is. It just felt like real creative freedom, which I felt like I really needed. And that now is my mentality moving forward. I feel like what’s gonna happen is the music is either gonna be really left field or more like pop. I feel like I’m gravitating to more extremes. 

What is one emotion you want people to feel when they listen to your music?

Free, just free from the day. 

Your name is often cited as the artiste who popularised future-bass and pushed it to the mainstream, so did you feel some sort of pressure or did you feel like you were boxed into a certain type of category?

I think people often box me into a category but then I do something new and then they’re like “Oh wait, he’s not really that.” So I never really worry about that because I just change. Cause music constantly evolves just like my mind. I’m not the same person I was three years ago so the music is bound to be different. I get bored easily and after doing the same trick for a while I’m like well, gotta find something new now. Which is sorta exhausting but I feel like I’ll do something and it’ll get copied a lot and I’m like forced to try to reinvent myself a bit, but it’s kinda healthy which I feel is kinda healthy. 

Do you not like people emulating you?

I honestly feel that it’s flattering that people wanna copy me. I also feel like by the time they do that, I’m already on to the next one, so I never sorta worry so much. The only time I’m worried is when I get writer’s block and I’m like oh no. 

How do you get over the writer’s block?

Geez, I’ve had all sorts of techniques. I try and travel, to get the head space different and just switch up my life as much as possible. 

The best way to describe his show: electrifying. Image credit: U-Mobile

Looking back, what do you think of your hits?

It’s great, I mean of course there are a few things that I’d do differently but I feel that that goes for everything I release. But that’s just part of it, that “Never Be Like You” track made my career, it was like a shot of steroids into my career and took it to a whole other audience which is pretty cool. 

When it comes to collaborations, in your eyes, what are the ingredients that make for a good collab?

I think the most important thing is the connection with that person. Yeah, just really having a good connection is kinda vital.

Who’s the person you worked with that made you think “wow I really wanna work with them again”?

I had that with Chet Faker and Reo I had that connection with Celia and there’s a couple of things that I’m working on and I feel like there’s always the product generally better when you’ve got a good connection with that person. 

When you’re performing at festivals and gigs, what really catches your eye in the audience that really makes all this worth it? 

Just when they’re going nuts, the crazier they are the more intimate I am. 

What’s coming up for Flume in the near future?

I’ve got a track coming out in September with Vera Blue, apart from that I actually don’t know and that’s part of the new mentality. To not lock myself into an album cycle, and I’ve got a lot of music I’m just waiting for the right time to put it out in whatever shape or form — whether it’s EP single, or mixtapes, albums, so I’m trying to keep it very open-ended.