The wait is over: We’ve been banging on about Flux Pavilion’s album since he first mentioned it to us over 18 months ago. Now, from today, it’s ours for keepsies.
It’s been worth the wait: Flux Pavilion describes Tesla as his most honest work to date. It’s also his most diverse. While it touches on the brutal, squelchy bass he first emerged with (notably on the venomous Vibrate and the massive International Anthem), it also includes disco (Feels Good), jazzy horn-fuelled groovers (Shoot Me Down) straight-up sweaty rave (Pogo People) and plenty more.
Last time we spoke to him he explained the concept… If the tracks make him bounce, they’re album material. It’s making us bounce… But will it make YOU bounce? In Flux’s own words: torrent it and check it out yourself.
I don’t want to stop people to listening to music because they can’t afford it. That’s not what art is about. I’ve torrented all sorts of stuff in the past when I couldn’t afford music. If I love it I will eventually invest in it. I’ve bought all sorts of things off the basis of torrenting and I know other people do, too.
Seriously. Here’s everything you need to know about Flux Pavilion – Tesla and loads more…
Easy Flux… What have we interrupted today?
Right this minute? I’m in the studio… You’ve caught me in a good place!
What are you working on now the album is done? I thought post-album is usually time for a bit of a break?
There’s never time for a break! There are two stages to writing; there’s the really exciting creative stuff then there’s the making it palatable, making sure it’s all nice and clean and the transitions work and everything. By that stage the creative spark has gone and it’s very fastidious. Having done that for ages on the album, I’m back to creative spark stage… Which I love. I’ve been itching to get back to this stage! I’ve put down six ideas in the last week, which is a great feeling.
That’s the most important thing: I can’t expect people to understand something that’s taken me 18 months to understand myself. People have to be patient with me and I have to be patient with people’s reactions.
Nice. We’re going to get onto the album in a minute. But first: Flux100…
Every year my management tells me campaign for votes for the DJ Mag Top 100. That’s his job! But the problem I have is that I never want to tell people to vote for me. So I decided to support everyone who’s exciting me instead. Of course I’d love to get some votes in the process, but this is just a cool opportunity to show mutual respect. We’re all doing the same thing at the end of the day: making people dance. No matter how we do it. It’s rare that we all pull together regardless of genres and the walls we’ve built around them.
Have you had any positive reactions from the people you’ve supported? Maybe even collaboration opportunities?
Yeah, I played after Andy C the other day and he gave me a massive hug and said thanks. He’s an idol of mine so that was crazy. We’ve met a few times but this was a much more human connection; it reinforced the idea that we’re all doing the same thing, we’re just doing it in our own unique ways. And yes there’s been some collaboration instances too… Both Snails and Brillz. I love what they’re doing and how they represent the leftfield of electronic music and how they experiment. That sings to me.
Now, let’s chat Tesla… Last time we spoke you hadn’t decided on the title.
I’m really happy with the title. It’s a measure of magnetic flux. It resonated with me in the same way the Flux100 project has; rather than everyone repelling each other and being in a big competition, it’s about being a magnet for my own kingdom of electronic music. I love all forms of music and this is my way of drawing in all my passions. Let’s acknowledge different sounds and ideas and talents, let’s work together. Plus Nikolai Tesla is fucking awesome; he’s a leftfield dude in terms in thinking about stuff. I urge anyone to read about him. Thirdly, Elon Musk is another revolutionary; he thinks about things differently which really inspires me. So yeah, the title fits in every way; spiritually and stylistically.
Stylistically there are a lot of non-typical Flux tracks… Has it been quite scary putting out some of these tracks that you know many fans aren’t going to instantly love because they’re different?
I’m not sure if scary is the best word but it’s definitely daunting. It’s a risk isn’t it? It’s that feeling that sits somewhere between excitement and anxiety. Those butterflies. Fear and adrenalin are the same thing. So one day I’m scared, the next I’m excited. I’m proud of the record, though. That’s the most important thing: I can’t expect people to understand something that’s taken me 18 months to understand myself. People have to be patient with me and I have to be patient with people’s reactions.
You’ve told people to torrent it, haven’t you?
Yeah I have. Not in an anti-money kind of way but in a way that respects the fact that people can’t afford to buy music all the time. I don’t want to stop people to listening to music because they can’t afford it. That’s not what art is about. I’ve torrented all sorts of stuff in the past when I couldn’t afford music. If I love it I will eventually invest in it. I’ve bought all sorts of things off the basis of torrenting and I know other people do, too.
Dre’s 2001. I now own that on every format. Cinematic Orchestra’s Ma Fleur, I’ve just bought the box set of that. Jurassic Five’s Quality Control. Loads… I’ve turned into that dude who buys up old vinyls and special editions these days.
Nice. Let’s tackle your album now. Gonna kick off with Shoot Me, just because it’s so different from what people expect and is about five different genres in one track.
Big Voyage has been smashing it on the jazz circuit for a while now, but he’s come into electronic music fairly recently. I love the way he thinks about things, he’s a fucking genius. People like him don’t come around often.
They’re real horns on that track, then?
Yeah, he had his saxophone with him and laid those down. I’ve also been working with The Kaleidoscope Orchestra from Manchester, speaking of real instruments.
They’ve done some sick covers… Including the Flux Pavilion Suite!
They have! I hit Steve Pycroft up and told him he’s fucking great. He really picked out some of my chord changes and minor details that I thought only I really knew were there in the music. So I sent him early versions of the tracks and asked if he’d be up for working with me orchestrating it. So there’s a 32 piece orchestra dotted around the album especially on tracks like Iron Heart and Feels Good. Often with my tracks the music comes first then the sounds come after… But the sounds are usually so gnarly, the musicality can be lost. Take Cracks for example, I really love the chord sequence in there and I actually wrote it on piano. But the sounds are so intense that it doesn’t exist as a piece of music, it’s just a gnarly dubstep track. So having Steve recognise those aspects of my music was a great feeling… I fuck those noises up so much even I forget that they start as pieces of music!
Any other songs on the album spawned on the piano?
Well International Anthem started on the guitar and Emotional started pretty basically too. Matthew Koma smashed that. I sent him the idea really last minute and he came back within 24 hours and he nailed it. Sometimes tracks are so easy to write; what’s hard is capturing that idea as it rushes over you like a tidal wave. Emotional came together like a whirlwind, it was less than two weeks before mastering the album!
Tell me about Soulsonic Force…
That was through the legend that is Arthur Baker. We were playing around with loads of old disco samples he had from back in the day, which is how Feels Good started actually, and we kept in touch. One day he suggested Soulsonic Force and I didn’t say no!
Were they aware of your work? Or did it take a while to work each other out?
There was a bit of bouncing back and forth and we realised that we’re all hands-on people so it made sense to get together. I went to New York for a day in the studio and we came up with We Are Creators very quickly… None of that track existed until we actually got together and worked in person. It was great fun.
Loving The Prodigy reference at the start of Pogo People, too…
That’s the track I sent to Liam Howlett. I wanted to make sure it was cool to do that reference… I didn’t know if he’s be okay with me referencing the Voodoo People intro. He was cool. He was cooler than cool… He asked me to be on their album and told me my music was some of the most exciting stuff he’d heard in ages! Hearing his feedback really kicked me up the arse! He’s the guy who makes the most exciting music in my opinion. So yeah, it was like ‘fuck! I need to finish this album and get it out there!’ I’m not worried about sales; I’m just proud it’s done and it’s going to be out there. It’s the most honest portrait of Flux Pavilion I’ve ever created… The end of chapter one I guess. It’s been quite a long chapter!
It’s been a massive chapter! Almost 10 years… It’s been a book!
Yeah it has. But it’s much more of a personal chapter ending. Like I’ve drained my Flux Pavilion gland for every ounce of ideas and creativity. Now it’s time to refuel and see what I come up with next… What’s exciting is that I don’t have to work out why I’m doing this in the first place. I asked myself those questions throughout the album and I know the answers. I haven’t had that feeling ever before, really. So I’m really looking forward to seeing what I come up with next.
But first… Touring. You’re hitting the UK with a mini tour too, aren’t you?
Yeah it’s been a while. I can’t wait to get out there. The show has got some incredible visuals and lasers and lighting. Much more than before.
Bringing vocalists with you? Or maybe even an actual tesla coil?
No on the vocalists… My mixing is too quick and I move too fast to accommodate singers respectfully in my sets. But that tesla coil you see on the cover of the album isn’t a photoshop job. That’s real. We’ve built it and it takes MIDI. I can play notes through it and it’s awesome. But to take it to a venue involves too much health and safety… We’ve looked into it but half of the venues we’re touring to wouldn’t be able to accommodate it. We are looking at doing a special one-off with it though.
Awesome. Where do you even keep a tesla coil?
Right now it’s being filmed for visuals but after that it’s in my basement. A lot of people are going back to analogue synths in their productions… You really don’t get much more analogue than a tesla coil! Maybe I’ll invite deadmau5 round to geek out on it…