Picking the brains of successful artists who have smart things to say is always a privilege. Heading back into the roll of bus tours after the release of his latest album, Joshua “Flux Pavillion” Steele has never been shy to reflect his feelings on dance music and his willingness to do whatever he’d like. Unlike the stereotypical rockstar artist though, Steele has a kind and calm demeanor about himself. We caught up with him in his trailer right before his usual ritual of sitting quietly and smoking a cigarette before proceeding to shut the Chopping Block down on day 1 of Escape Psycho Circus for the last hurrah of his US stops.
You’re no stranger to Halloween shows; what has been one of your favorite costumes of either you or one of your songs?
I dont know of any costumes that come to mind, but I have seen a few accidental lookalikes…I remember once I played a show in Sweden and some guy who bought a ticket had to leave because people thought he was me. So many people were asking to take pictures that he couldn’t enjoy the show. We let him backstage and kind of stand on the side because of it.
What is it that’s made you zero in on bass music as an overall career with influences and training from other genres?
I still do a lot of other stuff, just haven’t quite released it. What’s made me enamored with bass music, though, is just the feeling. There’s this whole idea that you have to be musically on point and in touch with some kind of deeper meaning to be a genius. But when I see people like The Prodigy play shows, even though there’s a slamming beat, I see twenty thousand people loosing their minds- to me, THAT’s genius.
You see people like Flying Lotus: fucking great, but then so is Excision. The difference in attitude, mentality, and emotion is something that makes me feel welcome. You don’t have to be up your own ass and think that you’re something really special to make people feel good.
For Tesla, how many tracks were in the running to be selected and what made you choose the tracks that are currently on it?
Instead of trying to write an album, I just sort of wrote loads and loads of music. I had about 40 or 50 tracks: loads of ideas, some kind of Synth Pop tracks, some kind of Apocalyptic House tunes, and a lot of weird shit. Some of them just felt like they would fit in a Flux Pavillion set, and that’s how I approach it really, I ask “Would I play this in my Flux set?” and if the answer is yes, then it goes on the album.
I like that you said Apocalyptic House; what genre title would you give Emotional? Is it more “Love Bass?”
Love Bass kind of works, doesn’t it? I don’t know, I’m actually kind of Anti-Genres I guess. I haven’t really made a stand against genres yet, but to me, the concept of using just one word or two words to describe a piece of music…even if it’s a dumb song, just using the one word to describe all of the intricacies of that one track makes no sense to me. I’ve never been able to do that.
Makes sense- it’s annoying to hear someone pigeon hole an entire set into “Yeah that was all Dubstep…”
Or even to take a song like “Smack My Bitch Up:” if i were to tell you it’s “Electro Rock” you’d say “Eh…I’m not really into Electro Rock, I don’t know if I’m interested” but If I play that track you’ll say “Oh that’s fucking awesome, I didn’t know I liked Electro Rock!” So just forget all that shit and just listen to the tune.
Back to Emotional: Why did you choose that song to create a remix contest?
I think because It’s very remixable- there are so many ways I felt like I could take that vocal. I wanted to make it as Flux as possible but in the process I was like “Wow I could do this with it, I could make it a house track,” but I didn’t and went ahead and followed through with my Flux thing. Then I realized it would be sad not to hear those songs anyway.
Have you had a chance to listen to any of the submissions? What are some of the things you’ll look for in a possible finalist or winner?
There are about 15 right now, and only 24 hours after we announced it, which is quite mad, but there are a lot of wicked ideas. In terms of choosing a winner, for me it will be quite obvious. It’s sort of like looking for house to rent or buying a new car when you kind of sit inside of it and get that feeling of “This is the one.”
I read some of your tweets earlier today concerning ghost production and I just want to say I’m glad someone took a stand against what I feel like is becoming an overblown conversation amongst artists and fans.
It’s just become a big circle jerk with loads of pissed off people. It’s okay to be upset by it or be kind of godsmacked, but I wouldn’t let it take over your life; it’s almost become a mission to try and destroy everyone out of bitterness and maybe even jealousy. I get why people would be angry though: you work your ass off working on a track, but then you see someone getting a track made for them and go off and make millions of dollars from it.
I’m sure it’s a case by case scenario of what specifically is done by the artist and ghost producer in question, but to you, where does the line get drawn when it comes to artists who have other people who work on their tracks?
Someone had a really good point the other day and said that as long as the original vision for the track is the artist’s, than it is that artist’s track. So look at someone like Diplo: I imagine very rarely at the moment he’s sat in the studio working his ass off just trying to get a snare sound, but you can hear every single track is his vision. I don’t think you could really even call it “ghost producing.” I think other people may work on his music but he is the one who instructs them.
He drew the master outlines of the image, and others work on coloring in specific areas.
Exactly, and to me, thats completely fair game.
If someone writes an entire song and another artist releases it as their own…I wouldn’t do that, but at the end of the day I can’t stop someone from doing that. I can only not do it myself. You can only really affect your own actions, so when you see someone else actions that you don’t like, you can only really change yours to suit it and don’t do the thing that you don’t like someone else doing.
What do you have planed going forward in terms of your live shows?
Since the album came out, I feel really free to do whatever the fuck I want. Even though I have been free anyway, it’s really me taking the mentality of doing what I want when I want. I’ve written loads more dubstep in the last 6 months than I have in the last few years…so expect to hear some weird dubstep.
Congrats to Flux for ending his tour on a high note, look out for the next time he storms the states.