Flume weighs in on music, Grammy victory, CRSSD Festival
Flume may not need any special effects to float - rather than walk - onto the stage when he performs Sunday at the fifth edition of CRSSD Festival, the two-day house and techno-music marathon at San Diego’s Waterfront Park.
That’s because this Australian producer and DJ - real name: Harley Edward Streten - may not yet have his feet on the ground after winning his first Grammy Award on Feb. 12.
His victory came in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category. It was an unexpected coup for the 25-year-old Flume. His radio-friendly “Skin” beat out the nominated albums by French electronic-music legend Jean-Michel Jarre, the veteran English duo Underworld, Bay Area ambient-music powerhouse Tycho and New York house-music mainstay Louie Vega.
“Skin” is only Flume’s second album. To put his Grammy win in perspective, the much better-known Jarre has released nearly 30 albums since the mid-1970s, while Vega has more than 20 to his credit and Underworld at least a dozen.
“Wow, this is totally insane!” the suitably dazed Flume said, as he accepted his Grammy during the pre-telecast portion of the annual awards show.
“I’m really proud to be here representing Australia - Australian music - at the Grammys, on this stage, right now.”
The saxophonist-turned-electronic-music-star then thanked his father, who accompanied him to the Grammys, and “the fans, who listen to the music (and) come to the concerts. This project wouldn’t be what it is without you.”
He also thanked his mentor, fellow Australian DJ and producer Shawn Naderi (who re-mixed Flume and Vic Mensa’s 2016 hit, “Lose It”) and “all the collaborators on (‘Skin’), who helped add so much color and flavor to it.”
When: Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego (next to the San Diego County Administration Building)
Tickets: $100 (Sunday); $180 (two-day pass); must be 21 or older to attend
Flume’s “Skin” collaborators include Beck, Vince Staples, Little Dragon, Tove Lo, Kai and Wu-Tang Clan mainstay Raekwon. It also features his fellow CRSSD Festival performer AlunaGeorge.
But Flume has become used to high-profile collaborations since the late 2012 release of his chart-topping debut album - the self-titled “Flume” - which he made on a laptop computer in his parents’ home. (He chose his stage name in honor of one of his favorite songs by Bon Iver.)
His credits include re-mixes for such diverse artists as Lorde, Arcade Fire and Sam Smith. As those re-mixes attest, he has a particular knack for working well with singers.
“I like the human voice,” Flume affirmed backstage at the Grammys, which were held at the sprawling, 20,000-capacity Staples Center.
“I have spent a lot of time on my own, doing instrumental music. So (working) with other people was very freeing.”
Prior to his Grammy triumph, Flume won a slew of ARIA Awards (Australia’s highest music honor). He has provided the music for an Intel commercial, performed in major indoor venues and at such top festivals as Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. Last August, he headlined at Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena).
Asked backstage at the Grammys how his CRSSD Festival performance this weekend would vary from his arena shows, Flume replied: “It depends. If it’s nighttime when I perform, I’ll approach it differently. I try and keep the festival performances much more punchy, with more of a party vibe.
“My first record was done at my parents’ house, in a bedroom studio, and it’s been a whirlwind in the three or four years since then. I’ve been touring since then and a lot of things have changed. It’s kind of surreal to be up here (with) a Grammy.”
Flume’s musical signature is the way he crafts and utilizes the drop.
The drop is the point in a song when the tempo or rhythm changes, or drops, the better to then surge to a climax that gives listeners a visceral feeling of being uplifted. Where fellow Grammy-winner Skrillex - to cite a more aggressive-sounding Electronic Dance Music (EDM) star - delivers his drops with gut-punching intensity, Flume favors a more textured and comparatively restrained approach.
He has been so successful in doing so that other electronic music acts, including Zedd, have copied his approach. There is even a Reddit thread, “The Flume Sound,” that analyzes his drops and production techniques. Want more? A number of online tutorials dissect Flume’s use of Ableton, a software music sequencer and digital audio work station.
As far as Flume is concerned, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And while some observers feel that EDM has reached a tipping point and is over-saturating the market, he isn’t worried.
“It’s huge - everything on the charts these days is electronic (music-oriented),” Flume enthused.
“I do what I do, and I love electronic stuff, because there are so many different textures and things you can incorporate. I think it’s great.”
CRSSD Festival continues to feature diverse, standout artists [ADVERTISEMENT]
Sign up for the Pacific Insider newsletter
PACIFIC magazine delivers the latest restaurant and bar openings, festivals and top concerts, every Tuesday.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Pacific San Diego.