Flume: Songs That Matter

Moby, The Strokes and Flying Lotus are among the artists whose tracks have shaped the producer.

Flume performs at the Red Bull Sound Select show at the Echoplex in Los Angeles, CA, USA on 27 March 2013.
Flume© Erik Voake / Red Bull Content Pool

Harley Streten, a.k.a. Sydney producer Flume, has been making catchy electronica ever since he found a music production program in a cereal box when he was 13. His eponymous debut album beat One Direction to the top spot in the Australian album charts last year, and he continues to be driven by what he calls “some kind of weird genetic obsession” with new sonic textures.

The first piece of music to stop me in my tracks was…

'Zodiac Shit' by Flying Lotus. "He was my first foray into that experimental beatsy stuff. I was on the bus home from my work at this news agency and that track suddenly caught my ear. It’s purposely swung to create these unique grooves and it’s almost like two different songs at once. I was like, "Holy fuck, what is this?" It was the first time I realized music didn’t have to be perfect, that stuff could be off-time – that, for me, imperfection was perfection.”

The first track that made me want to make music was…

'Talamak' by Toro y Moi. “Music was something I’d wanted to do way before I found that software in the box of NutriGrain. But Toro y Moi’s 'Talamak' made me think: OK, this is the direction I want Flume to take. It’s heavily side-chain compressed, which is an effect used in a lot of chillwave, where the sound ducks and makes the beat pulse.

"My goal was always to have a blank screen on the iPod and to press play and for people to know, 'that’s Flume,' and I guess my signature has become vocal warping. I’d re-pitch vocals to send back to vocalists so they knew how to sing them and one day I thought, fuck this, I can’t be bothered, I’m just gonna leave the draft in. That became 'Sleepless.' And now this whole chipmunk vocal thing is getting way out of control!”

The track responsible for my best mosh-pit moment was…

'Last Nite' by The Strokes. "When they came to Australia for a festival four years ago. I was freshly 18, and my girlfriend was freshly 18, and we were all super excited and super wasted. She woke up the next morning and was like, what the fuck happened to my favorite jeans? I still haven’t told her to this day that I broke them trying to lift her up in that mosh pit. Guitar music has a lot to say to me. But what really gets my creative juices flowing is unique, interesting textures, and that’s what I feel bands lack a little bit.”

The track most likely to make me cry is…

'God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters' by Moby. “I told my friend I wanted Moby’s 'God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters' to be my funeral song. I always go by the ‘less is more’ approach, and no one nails that better than Moby. Electronic music wasn’t big in Australia, but since I shot up it’s got a lot of kids into Ableton. I always have that interesting thought: if every kid in India had access to a computer with Ableton Live, imagine the amazing music we’d really have out there. Maybe I should make my living now, before I get overtaken by Pro-using Indian kids making future step or some shit!”

© Catie Laffoon/Red Bull

I love to hate…

'Barbie Girl' by Aqua. "It was the first CD I ever bought, when I was 7. I bought some terrible shit back in the days. I’d like to say I disown it completely, but I do see what I liked about it. So unbelievably catchy. And I thought the vocals were pretty cool. Oh shit, maybe that’s where I got the chipmunk thing from?!”

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