The wait is almost over as Flux Pavilion touches down in Los Angeles, ready to crush the dancefloor at tonight’s Bassrush Massive takeover of the Exchange.
In the midst of a massive world tour ahead of his highly anticipated and super-secret album project due out later this year, Flux gives Bassrush an exclusive first glimpse at the working title of the project and the kind of genre-bending madness that we can expect when it all unfolds.
The first single, “International Anthem” featuring London MC Doctor, is already dropping jaws across the board and has us amped for yet another legendary Bassrush experience about to unfold. So sit tight as Flux sounds off on everything from punk rock to drum & bass ahead of tonight’s show.
Take us back to when you were young—what kind of music were you listening to back then and how do you see that as influencing as who you’d eventually become?
When I was around 12 years old I remember getting a Fatboy Slim record for my birthday as this video game I used to play called Rollcage featured his music as the soundtrack. I remember hearing it and thinking how different it was from anything I’d heard up to that point until a friend who had the exact same Fatboy Slim album turned me on to The Prodigy’s Fat of the Land LP. It had the vibes of Fatboy Slim but it was a lot more electronic and a lot more aggressive and from there I discovered drum & bass and eventually dubstep and here I am.
You spoke earlier of feeling as if you didn’t quite fit in when you were younger. Did your discovery of electronic music help in that regard?
I guess so. Music is quite a big part of identity even now; what you’re into reflects how you carry yourself, your worldview, who you vote for, that kind of shit. Growing up I was never into pop music but everyone around me was so I would always sit there kind of pretending to like it but I didn’t feel like it was for me, I just pretended to like it.
Then when I heard The Prodigy, it was like, “Oh shit, this is something else, and this is what I want to listen to!” I felt like I’d found my feet and when you find that kind of thing you set yourself up on a path and discover loads of other shit that you like.
You recently posted a pic of you and Liam Howlett on your Instagram and wrote about the way that The Prodigy not only changed your life but taught you “to be an individual and be fucking proud of it.” How do you see that sentiment carrying over into your own evolution as an artist?
With The Prodigy it wasn’t just music, it was an attitude. I didn’t really understand punk when I was younger but now I get it and part of it was this feeling that it wasn’t just you being a naughty kid at school but you were part of a crowd of people who just didn’t give a fuck.
This sense of not caring or not liking what others like, it’s almost as if you can’t express that. If something’s on TV you don’t care about like the X Factor that everyone else is into, you’re almost made to feel weird that you’re not into it. But then when you’re around other people, a whole generation of people, that also think it’s shit then that’s what I feel like dubstep and bass music are all about, too. Especially when dubstep first started, music that was popular felt safe. But then dubstep was like, this is something just for us. This isn’t about making money, this isn’t about having lots of fans or being famous or being a celebrity—it was about this feeling of just doing what we wanted to. So for me, there was punk, there was Prodigy, and then there was dubstep. It’s all one and the same—all one attitude: we’re not like you; we’re doing our own thing.
You mentioned drum & bass as an early influence—was this related to its infamous anti-club vibe?
It wasn’t that conscious. It’s just the club thing never felt right to me. I used to go out and pretend, put on smart shoes and a smart shirt, go out and listen to all the club stuff and be there with all my friends while everyone my age was really getting into it, but the whole time I was thinking, “This isn’t as exciting as when I go to see The Prodigy; surely this can’t be it,” and that’s how I discovered drum & bass.
In the UK, drum & bass existed as sort of an alternative side of the club scene because you still went to the clubs but all of the stuff that seemed to matter in the dance music world didn’t really matter there; it became more about the music, more about what the DJ was doing rather than turning up and taking a selfie. You would go to see the music and that was the most important thing.
How did this progress into dubstep for you?
A friend of mine gave me an Andy C mixtape—I can’t remember what rave it was but it was from 2001 or something like that—and it had Pendulum, Fresh, and all that Breakbeat Kaos stuff on it. It was if I had discovered a kind of music that I had wanted to exist but never knew that it did. That’s when I bought my first decks, started buying vinyl, and discovered people like Noisia and the guys from America like Evol Intent and Ewun.
I started getting well into drum & bass and had always tried to write it, but for me it was too fast. I couldn’t quite capture the energy. The things I had been trying to produce always felt like slow drum & bass. Then when I heard Rusko play I was like, “Well, that’s what this is. This is what I’m going to do.”
This latest single, “International Anthem” with MC Doctor, has a strong dub, reggae, and even jungle/drum & bass vibe to it. With so much concern about genres these days, how do you feel about genre classifications?
As soon as a genre becomes popular there becomes a specified idea of what that piece of music should be. I spiritually just don’t agree with that. How can you define something before it even exists? If you’re telling yourself you’re a deep house artist then you’re already giving yourself a strict creative boundary to work within. What if you want to write a blues track or you wake up in the morning and really want to write some country? You’re not letting yourself do that because you’ve already told yourself what you should and shouldn’t be.
My name’s Josh, right? Say you know another dude named Josh who’s a dick and you instantly think I’m a dick because I’m called Josh? That’s not fair, is it? But we do it with music all the time: “I heard a drum & bass track and didn’t like it so I don’t like any of it.” There’s such a wide range of music in each genre that using these words as damning evidence goes against what the art is all about.
A lot of the online comments about “International Anthem” were about you “finally returning to you roots” What do you make of that?
For me they are the best comments With the new album, I basically tried to define what Flux Pavilion is. I wrote some tunes, they got some traction, and I started to touring and it happened so fast thing that I didn’t even know what Flux Pavilion was or where it was going. I’ve finally reached a point where I’m able to reflect and define what I want Flux Pavilion to be about. That’s what the record stands for—taking a step back, what with all the genre wars and all this speculation about sounds. There’s no use trying to keep up with social media, trying to be the first guy to. That’s not me, that’s not who I am. I’m all about writing tunes and that’s what this record is.
Do you have a working title for the album?
At this point I’m calling it Tesla. Nikola Tesla is a badass so that’s part of it, but also because a tesla is a symbol that measures the force of a magnetic field or what’s called a “magnetic flux density.”
At this point in your career are you thinking about your legacy?
I think when I was 12 years old I was thinking about my legacy. I mean, that’s always been a thing for me. It goes back to just being alive doesn’t it? How do we live forever? How can we live a meaningful life and leave something behind worth remembering?
We’ve got the album due in September, but first up is “Who Wants to Rock?” with Riff Raff. Since there’s no audio up, describe it for us!
Yes, that’s coming up next. The track is… um, it’s hard to describe. It’s 100 bpm, a tempo I haven’t worked at yet; it grooves, it’s got some energy to it, but I can’t really describe it. It’s not really like any genre; I’m not sure what it is actually but I like it.
We’re excited to have you touching down in Los Angeles tonight. What should we expect?
I’m looking forward to playing new tunes from the album, so be prepared to hear loads of tracks you won’t recognize.
By Chris Muniz