Ahead of KL gig, Grammy-winning DJ Flume reveals how copycats fuel his creativity

After snagging Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards with his second studio album ‘Skin’, the 27-year-old musician is ready to be more experimental. — Pix courtesy of All Is Amazing
After snagging Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards with his second studio album ‘Skin’, the 27-year-old musician is ready to be more experimental. — Pix courtesy of All Is Amazing

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – but for DJ and record producer Flume, it’s a lot more than that.

The Australian musician, born Harley Edward Streten, said it fuels him to step up his game, to be the best version of himself.

Known for his dancefloor-friendly hits like Never Be Like You and Say It, the Sydney native’s latest mixtape Hi This Is Flume has received rave reviews for venturing into experimental soundscapes.

The electronica wunderkind explained how copycats help him break out of monotony and walk a more adventurous route when it comes to music making.

“Honestly, it’s kind of flattering that people would even want to copy me. Go for it.

“By the time people start copying what I do, I’ll already be moving on to the next thing so I never worry too much.”

Copycats, he said, forces him to keep reinventing himself, “but it’s kind of healthy because it forces me to evolve,” he said.

Never one to shy away from nonconformity, Streten recently released free audio samples online under the Flume Sounds project where beatmakers can download a selection of synths and beats created by the man himself.

Streten described it as a move to encourage a more “open source culture of creativity” and invited fellow artistes to pick and choose from his sounds to come up with something unique.

Streten performed to an ecstatic crowd at KL Live last Friday.
Streten performed to an ecstatic crowd at KL Live last Friday.

It’s no surprise that other producers have been training their ears on Streten after the release of Hi This Is Flume, a project displaying a left-field approach to electronic music and collaborations with a host of big names in hip-hop including rapper JPEGMAFIA and UK grime artist, Slowthai.

Streten’s readiness to delve into zanier sounds has kept the Flume name relevant despite hip-hop eclipsing electronic dance music as the most popular genre over the past decade.

“It’s one thing when you’re writing an instrumental song for a vocalist who sings and it’s a whole other thing for me when it comes to writing for a rapper.

“My favourite thing to do is to try and write something and give it to the artist and then completely throw it out and write something new that fits around the rhythms and flows of the vocals.

He said the track eventually ends up being custom-fit to the artist like a glove, “rather than me just writing the beat first and having the other person work around it.”

After making the rounds in the US music festival circuit at events like Lollapalooza and Outside Lands, the 27-year-old performed at his first Malaysian show at KL Live on August 23.

Streten said he appreciated being able to play deeper cuts at a solo gig knowing that fans are more likely to react to tracks that a festival crowd might not recognise.

“Festivals are great because you’ve got a big stage but when I’m playing my own shows, I know the crowd’s 100 per cent there for me.

“I do have a bit more fun playing the more obscure songs at my own shows whereas I usually do a greatest hits set-list when it comes to festivals.”

Solo shows give Streten an opportunity to test out unreleased material.
Solo shows give Streten an opportunity to test out unreleased material.

Aside from the upcoming release of his single Rushing Back with singer-songwriter Vera Blue, Streten said he has no further plans to drop music in 2019.

Instead, he hopes to take a much-needed breather once the chaos of touring dies down.

“My main objective now is to try and be happy. I tend to overwork and put my happiness second to my career, which I think a lot of people end up doing.

“The balance in my life got a little tipped to one side and now I’m doing my best to put it back into place,” he said.

“That’s the new mentality I want to have rather than locking myself into an album cycle.

“I’ve got a lot of music and I’m just waiting for the right time to put it out in whatever shape or form, whether it’s EPs, singles, mixtapes, or albums.”

Flume’s Kuala Lumpur show was presented by U Mobile as part of the Unlimited Grooves initiative in partnership with Good Vibes.

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