While we’re undeniably in the midst of an electronic-music takeover here in the States, the blend of acclaim and popularity enjoyed by Flume is still a rare package. Born Harley Streten, the 22-year-old Australian producer has already packed the type of milestones into his short career that most artists can only dream of hitting in a lifetime.
His debut EP, Sleepless, features hypnotically chiming loops, and soulfully dissected vocals from Anthony For Cleopatra (and later with Jezzabell Doran). The title track off of that 2011 release in particular demonstrates the blend of technological chill and organic warmth that characterizes his best work.
“I think I put a lot of special attention towards creating interesting textures and unique sounds,” Flume told Dazed & Confused at the time regarding his sound. “Music essentially boils down to two main elements, rhythm and melody. I feel tones and textures often get overlooked, so I like to take my time finding the right sounds.”
“Sleepless” earned the MTV Artist To Watch his first taste of success, and it pushed Flume in front an audience of discerning fans and artists eager to collaborate. He’d barely had any other music to his name at the time, but a breakthrough performance at the Australian festival Splendour in the Grass sealed the deal of big things to come.
Like, say, that time when Flume’s self-titled debut album went to No. 1 on the Australian charts in November of 2012, beating out a little band by the name of One Direction. Maybe you’ve heard of them?
Tours with bands like Disclosure — who Flume has actually remixed — followed, as did accolades back home, including four ARIA Awards (essentially the Australian Grammys) for Producer of the Year, Best Male, Breakthrough Artist, and Best Dance Release.
That attention came on the back of Flume songs like “Holdin On,” a hard-stepping but still texturally evocative, soul vocal-sampling track that later got a hip-hop vocal update from Freddie Gibbs. There’s also “Insane,” a momentously spacey, vista-conjuring tune with off-kilter, manipulated vocals from Moon Holiday.
This year Flume has hit the festival circuit hard, unleashing a super-well received set at Coachella where he debuted a remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Court” that rocketed the pensive track off into space. Hope Flume gets used to all the rarefied air up there, because he’s probably not coming back down to Earth for a while.