Flux Pavilion is no stranger to the modern music industry. He’s been around since the very early days of bass music, and today is one of the biggest names in the genre. Having just released his first full-length album, we finally got the chance to see him apply his considerable talent to a longer format. The day it released to the world, he graced the decks at our Foundation Nightclub, delivering an eclectic set of both new and old tunes to celebrate.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with the living legend to talk over his origins in the industry, the inspiration behind his new album Tesla, and his thoughts on the controversial DJ Mag Top 100 poll. In our conversation, it became immediately clear that we were talking to someone who exudes passion for all facets of the musical process, extending far outside of simply producing and DJing.
The Language of Tesla
For most DJs, the debut LP is a chance to summarize their body of work. Porter Robinson’s Worlds was the culmination of a desire for something new. The Glitch Mob’s Drink the Sea showed how bass music is far more than heavy drops and screeching saws. For Flux, Tesla was a chance to capture the spirit of his music, rather than simply the sound.
“I didn’t actually intend to take the sound in a different direction. I tried to concentrate on how Flux Pavilion tracks make me feel and it ended up sounding quite weird. I tried to draw from a place writing tunes that I like, rather than trying to write something I think other people will like.”
To clarify, Flux Pavilion isn’t out to write music you hate. Rather, it’s the intention behind creation that drives him, noting that when it comes to writing music, people are “never going to love it compared to something that’s completely off the wall.” Tesla represents that “off the wall” feel, and the end result is a steady mix of vintage Flux sensibility blended into an intriguingly different sound.
Weighing in on the State of Dubstep
Much has been said in recent months on dubstep as a genre. Heavyweights like Bassnectar and Excision have both given voice to the idea that bass music is far from dead. Many could even make the argument that it’s entering into some of it’s best years ever, and it’s safe to say Flux Pavilion numbers himself among that crowd.
“I get bored quite easily with the perpetuation of stuff sounding the same over and over again. We reached a nice point where dubstep especially got too big. When something gets too big there’s an understood idea of what it is. But now it’s not popular anymore, people are writing really interesting stuff again. The best dubstep of the last five years is being written right now.”
There’s certainly no denying the community of bassheads existing both here in the Northwest and abroad. Even so, genres like big room, trance, and progressive house have taken over mainstages across the globe, leaving bass relegated to side stages packed with devoted followers. This in turn has led to the bigger avenues of music beginning to all sound the same. “When something is popular, there becomes an undisturbed sound,” effectively killing experimentation within a genre. With dubstep fading from the mainstream, it’s been allowed to grow and evolve in a way it’s never been afforded before.
“What’s cool about dubstep was that it was like 4 years before anyone really cared about it.”
EDM has never moved faster, thanks in large part to the constant rise and fall of new genres. “The annoying thing about these days is that the experimentation stage is about 3 months,” before that genre gets re-packaged and commercialized for heavy rotation on the radio. Bass music on the other hand has been an entirely different kind of animal, thanks in large part to its lack of presence in the greater mainstream. Because of this, it’s allowed for far more growth, even in the years when Skrillex helped bring it into the public consciousness.
In recent years, the DJ Mag Top 100 has become the focal point for the debate of manufactured EDM vs. genuine music. The last few months have seen reports of DJs employing some decidedly underhanded tactics just to score votes. Many have come to view it as a popularity contest that’s made itself more and more irrelevant each year, and it’s an understandable feeling to harbor. Flux Pavilion though sees more hope for the future of the poll, using his #Flux100 campaign to utilize the DJ Mag poll less as a tool for self-promotion, and more for the discovery of truly great music.
“I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea of ‘hey everyone vote for me.’ It should be natural; if someone likes my stuff, then they should vote for me. And if I’m going to urge people to vote in general, I should just put out the people I like, the people I’ll be voting for.”
In the interest of pushing forth this ideal, Flux released a video running down his campaign. In it, he puts forth a simple mission: To “capture the full spectrum of music that people are listening to right now.” He goes on to list a slew of artists who are single-handedly revolutionizing electronic music as we know it, including Pretty Lights, Gessalfelstein, Snails, and lots more. This group may not be big on self-promotion, and what they lack in ego is made up for in spades by sheer talent.
This is what truly embodies the spirit of Flux Pavilion and his music. His propensity for experimentation and care for his craft define him, and he’s entirely unmotivated by things like image and greed. As he puts it, “I just love groovy music.” It’s why it’s easy to stand behind something as refreshing as the #Flux100, and it’s what has made him into a true visionary for bass music and beyond.