UP IN FLAMES
ELECTRONIC MUSICIAN FLUME LIGHTS UP BYRON’S SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS
Skin is such a wild trip to listen to.
It’s a little wild. It’s not probably something you want to put on at a dinner party.
I’m guessing you didn’t make it to soundtrack dinner parties. What did you make this music for?
I guess over the past three years I’ve been writing all kinds of stuff. I wanted stuff that was accessible and poppy; I wanted stuff that was really weird and uncomfortable to listen to. There’s an ambient sound on there too. I like the unexpected in music so it’s quite fun for me to run little experiments on people.
What comes first when you are making music?
I am like a scientist experimenting until I find something that clicks and then the song comes with the melodies. I think initially it was just I was excited about writing music and having control over the chords and the melody. I played saxophone for years and years and it was frustrating to me to only be able to play one note at a time. When I found music production it was superliberating. I was amazed you could see music in layers, it blew my mind. It was a fun hobby at first.
You have written a lot of this on the fly while touring the world.
I have learnt to write on the road on my laptop. I do a lot of music in cafes and hotels, in a car wash. I find it difficult to write in a studio sometimes because I find routine sucks my creativity away. The track Numb & Getting Colder, I was driving around in a taxi in LA a year ago trying to play the melody on the computer keyboard and I couldn’t play it well because we were going around corners. That became the intro for the song.
How do you leave the control freakness at the door when you are collaborating?
I don’t really. It’s OK, usually when it comes to the musical side of things, I take the lead. When it comes to vocal melodies, we bounce back and forth. I work with people I really like and respect and want to work with so usually there’s no real tension, we’re both into the same stuff. I want them to feel like they have tonnes of creative control.
You don’t do the lyrics yet the album does seem to have a prevailing theme. There’s a lot of ‘I messed up’ on Skin. A lot of sad love songs.
I’m no good at lyrics. When I listen to music, lyrics are the last thing I listen to. I think the music I do has a lot of emotive chords and yeah, a lot of it is quite sad, unintentionally. For me, it was less about the lyrical vision and more about what the other artists I was working with brought to the table.
Are there secret sounds on Skin?
High hats that are blips or someone dropping a coin. There’s dropping keys, closing a door. I have a lot of Hollywood Foley packs; that’s how I can carve out my own sound sometimes by using unconventional things like using Hollywood sound effects instead of drums. The best one I found was from these kids and it was throwing rocks down a metal pipe.
My favourite song is Tiny Cities with Beck ...
It’s awesome and a nice way to end the record.
Is that a bit of a Beach Boys homage?
I know the classics but I actually don’t listen to a lot of old music, only really stuff from the past couple of years. Not that I don’t think it’s good and there have been amazing songs written but what excites me in music is stuff I haven’t heard before and crazy ways to do it.
What has been the most surreal moment of your past few years on the road?
Just the other week when I played Coachella, my manager was watching from the lighting console from the middle and there were these two girls who came in and were dancing around and he was saying ‘We have to get them out of here’ and goes to kick them out and it was Taylor Swift and her friend. He was like ‘OK, don’t worry about it’.
You have five months of touring in front of you. Is there a huge pressure to come up with something visually spectacular because it’s just you up there?
At the end of the day, I don’t know what is going to beat a band. We put a lot of money into making it a spectacle, almost a Cirque du Soleil thing.
Flume, Splendour in the Grass, North Byron Parklands, Sunday night
Electronic music producer Flume will headline Splendour in the Grass this weekend.