We first interviewed Flux Pavilion about his debut album this time last year… And consequently got a bit excited. At the time he’d scrapped a whole ton of ideas and was very vocal about the idea of ignoring trends and simply creating music that makes him feel good. We said amen a fair few times.
Sure, we thought we’d hear the album a little closer to the time, but it appears everything he said back then still rings true now. It also seems we caught him at a similarly pivotal moment…
Out this week, the massive International Anthem marks the start of a Flux-fired summer as he builds up to the full release of his debut album this autumn. We rang him to find out exactly what we can expect, when we can expect it and anything else we can squeeze him for.
From his instant revelation that he and The Prodigy share a tailor to his final salvo that he’s already thinking of new material beyond his album, Flux delivered. This is how our conversation went…
I couldn’t make a snare like Pendulum’s. I couldn’t make a bassline like Rusko. But what I could do was feel their music and put that passion into my own music. So that’s the approach for the new record; rather than recreating what I love, I take that inspiration. Basically a record that feels good from start to finish.
Flux and The Prodigy: you’re on their album, you’re on their tour. How did the link-up between you guys come about?
It was actually through my tailor! I’ve got a dude in Soho who makes some bits and pieces for me. He also makes stuff for them. Liam was chatting to him and gave his email address to give to me. I sent him some of my album tracks and he got back saying ‘this shit’s cool. It’s a shame I didn’t know earlier, you could have done something on the new album’ I told him I had a spare two days and told him to send parts over to me.
Last minute vibes! An invitation from Liam Howlett can’t be sniffed at….
Exactly! I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the Prodigy. The vibe of his music caught me when I was younger and never let me go. It has remained the vibe that I’m always trying to capture with my own music. The cool thing is that he’s a nice guy full stop. He’s into the music. He’s into the feeling. There’s no ego. It’s all about making tunes.
Haha yeah I guess. He’s a rock n roll tailor too. His shop is where Jimi Hendrix used to live. He makes really cool shit.
Every day swag or a new Flux style?
I’m starting to get into some suit jacket vibes, picking up a few new threads. They or may not become part of the Flux Pavilion world. Who knows?
Let’s talk about the album now. Last time we spoke this is what we learnt about the album. Let’s take it from there. Tell me everything…
When we spoke last year I’d just had a big turnaround moment. I’d stopped thinking about how the music sounded and was focusing on how it makes you feel instead. For inspiration I was listening to the old Flux stuff and asking myself ‘what was I thinking then? Why did I do that in that particular way?’ I didn’t have the skills to make the sounds I wanted to make; I couldn’t make a snare like Pendulum’s. I couldn’t make a bassline like Rusko. But what I could do was feel their music and put that passion into my own music. So that’s the approach for the new record; rather than recreating what I love, I take that inspiration. Basically a record that feels good from start to finish.
I talk to a lot of artists who shut out the current musical world when they’re in album mode, so they’re not subconsciously influenced or sidetracked by hype. Did you do that? And how did you keep that separate from your role as Circus A&R? They’re two very separate worlds…
I didn’t really shut out what was going on. But I did try my best to shut out the mentality. I didn’t want to be in competition; trying to match up with everyone and keep up with my peers. So I shut out the genre war that everyone starts battling out. I’ve been doing this for six or seven years, I thought I’d take a step back and go into the studio to make music I believe in and feels good.
It’s how I run the label, too… Music that makes me feel good. That’s what I listen out for; I want to hear how excited an artist is when they’re making it. It’s a fundamental aspect of good music for me. Don’t feel like doing what you should be doing, do what makes you feel right! Build up your own creative spectrum. For example; I wanted a dubstep tune for the album. So I wrote about 15 tunes, all different genres and different sounds, and one of them happened to be a dubstep track because that’s what happened on the day. You can’t just force something out. It will sound shit. You’ve got to go through the vibes and let it happen naturally.
What do you do with those remaining 14? Do they get recycled or are they simply part of the creative process between A and B?
I make music: That’s my job – to create stuff! Even if I never release it, it’s part of the creative process so it’s not time wasted. It’s like going out for a drink with your mates. You haven’t achieved anything but you’ve had a good night. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
100 per cent! So International Anthem marks the start of the album build-up. Is it totally finished or are you still tweaking?
I’ll tweak until the dying hours! But I’d say it’s basically done. I want to put 10 tunes on there. There might be more. There are certainly more ideas which could end up on it. Or they might get saved for something else.
10 is good. Some albums can sprawl and get a little directionless if there are too many songs. Did that type of approach strike you?
Kinda. I remember when I was younger there was a band called Sum 41. They did an album called All Killer No Filler. I wasn’t really into the record but the name and that spirit really stuck with me. Don’t fill an album up with minutes you’re not totally passionate about, fill every second with music you absolutely love. It should be a succession of sick moments that define you as an artist. If you pad that out at all then you’re losing your message.
How about each track making sense of each other so the album works as a consistent experience?
This is it. I make A LOT of different music. I play guitar, saxophone, sing… And in the past I think I’ve thrown too much of those skills into Flux. I’ve spread them too thinly. So if I was going to sing on one track then I should sing on all of them. So I decided not to sing on any. I just wanted to achieve one thing; does this make you dance? If yes then it’s on the record. That’s your consistency; that’s your through-line. I’ve had opportunities to show off my skills in the past, this album isn’t about doing that. It’s all a bit selfish if I did.
So have you had moments when you’ve showed off in the past?
It’s a constant personal battle, man! So let’s say I’ve written a tune with just one note that hits hard. I’ll be sitting there thinking ‘this is too simple, this needs chords’. Then I add those chords but realise it was sick with one note. Why complicate it?
True. You mention chords; those big chords on International Anthem are something you’ve told us about before. Can we expect more of that type of sound on the album?
Every track is different. I went with vibes and when something felt right then I’d go with it. I just wanted to make myself jump around in the studio. It’s all about the gut feeling for me.
Did you bring other people into the studio to see if they jump? Maybe people from the label.
Of course. The whole thing with Circus is that we’re a family. We’re connected with passion. It was important to have that feedback and keep filling them up with the music I’m making. So we all believe in it. I’ve been very open about it. I trust those guys; they’re my brothers. To have them connected helps me do what I do more freely. You’re not putting pressure on yourself.
I’m guessing Liam Howlett’s reaction to your album tracks helped? What did you send him?
I sent him two tracks; one sounded a bit like Flux does The Prodigy and another one that I was working on with Soul Sonic Force in New York. It’s old school and new school, it was really cool.
Wow. Legends. Gonna push you for more collabo details now if possible…
There’s nothing we’ve officially announced but I have been Tweeting a lot with Riff Raff so you can assume we’ve done something together for the album too.
Nice. Sounds like you’ve had a lot of fun and really not cared about genres or what people expect. Bottom line: There are going to be surprises.
Yes, there are. International Anthem is the least surprising one. That’s why I opened with it. I’m used to the new stuff, but fans haven’t been part of that creative process so they’re still into the stuff I was making two or three years ago. I feel like some of the new stuff will be a bit of a shock. But International Anthem is a reminder that I still do what I do in a way that people will recognise.
Breaking us in gently. So when can we actually expect to get our hands on this?
Autumn. The album tour starts then and rolls through the February next year. It might go longer but we haven’t thought that far ahead.
DJ set? Or are you thinking about live performance?
DJ set for now but we are thinking about live ideas. We’re working on something but don’t know how it’s going to work out. It’s a really exciting project. It might not end up as Flux, it might end up as something else.
This could end up with you being on tour for the whole year and beyond!
I’ve never stopped touring for the past six or seven years. When it’s just little old you, some headphones and USB sticks, then you can jump on a flight anywhere. I’ve just taken the odd month off here and there to write the album. I’m going to continue to do this because it’s been very fruitful. I’ve found myself getting on brand new tracks and ideas which I’m buzzing about. I’ve had my most creative and productive year yet, and it’s showing no signs of stopping!
So there’s even more material to follow the album?
Without a doubt, I’m already working on some even more next level ideas!