Flume's Harley Streten started making music with software he got from a cereal box
Flume is the musical project of Harley Streten from Sydney, Australia. At 21, Streten has come a long way from where he started, making electronic music using a bit of production software he got from a box of cereal at age thirteen. His sparse but evocative soundscapes defy easy categorization. With distinctive stylistic flourishes that he uses as a detail rather than a main sonic theme, Streten's music has an uncommon subtlety, and his dark melodic compositions suggest a visual aesthetic born out in his live show.
See also: Saturday: Flume at Fox Theatre, 9/7/13
In 2012, Streten released his self-titled debut full-length to much critical praise. In advance of his sold-out show this Saturday night at the Fox Theatre, we spoke with Streten about his evolution as an electronic music artist, how he prefers to impose limitations in crafting music to engender his creativity and his love for the soundtrack work on the films Drive and Blade Runner.
Westword: Can you tell us a little bit about Andrew G's Music Maker?
Harley Streten: It was really a simple [interface]. You get a rock one, a pop one. I think there was an R&B one. You had a few loops, like drum loops and maybe some vocals. Three tracks, maybe. It was a good concept, and I got interested in the workings of how it all came together from the separate parts. Andrew G was a bit of a Ryan Seacrest. He did Australian Idol and did some stuff for MTV.
Where did you go after you exhausted the possibilities of that software?
I went on to Fruity Loops and eventually moved on to Ableton Live. I use that for everything now.
Do you use Logic for recording? Do you use Ableton for all of it?
Yeah, for eveything.
Where did you first perform your music live?
I did a support slot for a band here in November, 2011. It was a Sydney band called New Navy.
You had the Sleepless EP out at that point?
Yeah, so it was pretty minimal.
How did you get connected with Future Classic?
There was a competition that Future Classic ran asking to send in your best musical productions. I sent in the Sleepless EP. It had been kind of sitting on my hard drive collecting some dust for a while. They thought it was rad, and they wanted to release it, and that's when things started happening for me.
You have a very distinctive sound. Did you experiment with hardware while working with software?
A little bit. I had a Korg Radias, which is a synthesizer I have. Little bits and pieces of gear, and I was playing some Moogs. Nothing too major, but I found myself not really using it so much, and I sold off a bunch of my stuff to just work in the box.
Did you acquire and use soft synths or the sort of built-in instruments in Ableton?
I use all sorts of stuff. I use Sylenth1. I use mostly effects from Ableton, and I use Uncompressor, which is the glue. I like to keep it really simple, and I find if I have too much stuff, I will fuck around and not get much done.
You have expressed a strong interest in doing soundtrack work. Are there movies you've seen in which you've particularly liked the sound design or the incidental music?
I love the soundtrack for Drive. What is that guy's name?
It's tempting to say it's FC Kahuna, but FC Kahuna did some music for Layer Cake. It's Cliff Martinez.
Yeah, Layer Cake, I love that film. Ryan Gosling is the common actor between the two. It's music has a really cool vibe, too. I also like a bit of the Blade Runner vibe but a little less sci-fi. I feel like a combo of Drive and Blade Runner, so it's quite dark. But also some kind of cold feel, dystopia.