Flux Pavilion will be arriving in South Africa in just a few days time as part of his Tesla Tour. He will be one of the headlining acts at both Sounds Wild Festival in Johannesburg on the 27th of November and Synergy Live in Cape Town on 28th of November. Pulse spoke to Flux Pavilion ahead of his tour out here, picking his brain on juggling his many facets as Joshua Steele, Flux Pavilion the producer and DJ, and Flux Pavilion Label owner; what went into Tesla as an album and, of course, a little bit of what to expect when he finally touches down.
Listening to the Tesla Album, varied if the first thing that comes to mind. The two tracks that immediately stand out as part of Flux Pavilion’s signature sound are “Vibrate” and “International Anthem”. This is probably because they are quite obviously dubstep which Flux has become most well known for. Moving on from that things shift into a slightly more upbeat electro house feel with “What You gonna Do About” and “Pogo People” and perhaps most interesting of all take a left towards the distinctly melodic with “Emotional ft. Matthew Koma”.
Speaking to Flux about this variation he seems amused by this idea people have formed around Tesla, because to him rather than an exploration of the new, Tesla is an exploration of the fundamental, base Flux.
“A lot of people have come back and were like this album is really different you’re really diversifying, but that is the opposite of what I was actually doing. I went back into the core foundation of Flux Pavilion. The variation of sound on Tesla came about from experimentation. Loads of my stuff has just started going off in so many different directions that I wasn’t sure what to do and then out of that idea I decided well I’ll just do anything then.
It's quite interesting to think about because it's an exploration under the pretense of not trying to explore. Really going back to the fundamental: I write music that I think is good because I like to listen to it and I like to make it. So rather than trying to explore and diversify. I tried to go back to that one thing.
I should just write music from my core and just be in love with it basically. Before I was writing dubstep and before I released any music all the stuff I was writing sounds really similar to Tesla. Just really groovy electronic music. So for me it was going back, but I overshot Substep and went really far back to the stuff I was writing when I was 15”
Reaching and overcoming limitations appears to be a fundamental aspect to Flux’s approach to life. Joshua Steele comes from a small town in England with no real music scene to speak of.
“Obviously I could by Prodigy albums and chemical brothers albums and stuff like that, but there wasn’t a music scene there were no DJs.”
Even with no real exposure Steele was still drawn to the music he followed the general path of picking up an instrument. “If you’re into music you play in bands and play guitar and stuff like that.” but quickly started hitting walls, driven by a constant desire to build upon his sound but without any real access to expensive equipment and a studio or other musicians able to produce the sound he was looking for. discovering that he could create all those sounds himself was a proverbial creative Deus Ex Machina resulting in the being we now know as Flux Pavilion.
“I didn’t choose electronic music over instruments I just couldn’t get enough out of the instruments”
Listen to South African producer Kyle Watson remix of Flux Pavilion's "Emotional" premiered on DJ Mag.
The experimental approach that lead him to electronic music in the first place still suffuses his production process. Stemming from productive boredom or procrastination his process to hear him describe it gives me flashbacks to that kid in school that was never paying attention and just carving things into the desk and doodling in his textbooks, however, instead of a veiny penis or “Harry hearts Anna 4eva” the result is something that borders madness and innovative genius.
"The way I’ve always written is quite messy. I’m quite a messy creator I just sort of throw stuff around. I could just be sitting there noodling on the piano because I’m bored and the next thing I know I’ve written a song and I’ve been recording for 10 hours. It all sort of comes out that I don’t really have a fixed process it all.
It’s kind of like just jamming which is always the most fun. There’s kind of like 3 phases of writing. With the album, it was kind of a year of just madness. I could delete one sound and the whole song would just fall to pieces, but I like that. It’s kind of where my sound comes from.
Then I have six months of consolidating and trying to make sense of it, and then album sorta just happens after that. and it’s generally how projects work. It's kind of a controlled madness. You when you’ve got a really messy room, but you know where everything is?"
While this is all happening and coming together Flux is busy running a label, and well being a regular guy too. A lot of artists face the daily struggle of balancing their business and creative sides. This is something that Steele seems to have found a balance of sorts.
“For me I find it most important to keep the business out when I am creating. Just make the music and give it to the label and let them handle the business, because when you let business start creeping into the studio on what you do make and don’t make that’s when the music changes.
The way that I do is that when I am in the studio Flux Pavilion the label owner doesn’t exist and as soon as I walk out the door that’s when I start thinking oh I can do this with it. etc It’s taken a while to work out that I’ve got to really split the two. As soon as I walk out the studio though I start thinking of ways I can start marketing it and putting it out”
Flux seems to manage to keep his personal life and artistic life pretty separate too. Most people and artists themselves even (Looking at you Kanye) tend to equate an artist’s performance persona and artistic brand with their personal one. They live the performance. Flux takes the opposite route and in doing so keeps the music he makes pure and unadulterated from his personal views.
“I used to feel like I was always Flux Pavilion and everything I would do is what Flux Pavilion stands for, but then it starts to get quite convoluted because as a person you have different ideas about things, and I think it can start bringing in all sorts of political ideas into the music. Which I don’t have anything against, but it starts to bring your entire view of the world into it, and Flux Pavilion didn’t start like that and when I saw it starting to turn into that I thought I don’t like that. I want Flux to stay just about fun and mad music that makes me feel a certain way.”
Music making you feel a certain way seems to be key to the way Flux operates. For Flux, that feeling is most closely associated to Dubstep. Dubstep was Flux's entry into the world of electronic dance music.
"I never really felt like I was a part of dance music until dubstep kinda blew up. Dubstep felt really separate it didn’t feel like dance music. Dance Music was all about house and Tiesto, and going to the club and wearing nice shoes and a smart shirt whereas dubstep was just mad sounds and people just jumping around and being lunatics"
If Tesla and the accompanying Tesla Tour is about getting back to the core foundation of Flux Pavilion, it makes perfect sense for him to say even though the hype around Dubstep has died down a little it still forms a large part of his set and will definitely be heavily featured when he plays here. He assures us though that it will be new and exciting. I think we can all agree though as long as whatever he plays invites us all to jump around like lunatics everybody will be happy.
Flux Pavilion South Africa Tour:
Johannesburg - Friday 27th November 2015 - Sounds Wild - CarFax
Cape Town - Saturday 28th November 2015 - Synergy Festival - Theewaters Sports Club