Photo Credit: Andrew Benge, Redferns
Josh Steele, more famously known as Flux Pavilion, has been producing electronic music for nearly a decade now, and continues to push the limits with his bass fueled tracks. As an established artist and co-founder of Circus Records (with childhood friend Doctor P), he has valuable insight and thoughts on the direction of electronic music.
He stormed onto the scene during the rise of American dubstep, taking over with now ubiquitous originals like "I Can't Stop," "Bass Cannon," and "Got 2 Know," along with still spine-tingling remixes of DJ Fresh and Freestylers. He has continued to innovate over the years, building his sound while never forgetting where he came from with a series of big EPs and collaborations. We were lucky enough to catch him before his main-stage set at Electric Daisy Carnival in New York City, and picked his brain about all things music.
If someone is listening to my music, I don't really care how they got it. Maybe I should care, but I never go into the studio for money, you know? I started writing music when I was 12 and I never cared then. If someone downloads my music from a torrent or they buy it, as long as they're listening to it then that's the reason I keep writing it. I've had to torrent my own music once. I played a show and my CD that had my track was broken, so I had to get my tour manager to run downstairs on his laptop, torrent a song and burn it. At that point I was like, "You know what its cool." That works for me.
I think its quite a cool thing. I think everyone gets mad because there are millionaires funding it, but if it was funded by unknown artists they wouldn't get any exposure, so they kind of had to fund it with big artists who happen to be really really rich. But I feel like if you remove that then the actual message is: when music gets streamed, the people that wrote the music get a majority of the money rather than the companies that stream it. As a simple message, I think that is a completely positive thing. It's like, why not get more percentages for the musicians? If you boil it down to that foundation it's a good message you cant complain about.
Labels need to exist in a grassroots setting. You don't need to have a label. But what a good label does is act like family, kind of support. A label should be a support platform for the creative person or artist to be able to do what they want. So the way I approach our label is, I view it as a safe place for all creativity to exist and we'll work out together how we want to work out the career. For me, music in its purest form doesn't belong in a career. It's a piece of art. The label is there to try to turn it into a career and the artist shouldn't be worried about that.
The label tries to make them big, and the artist should just be thinking about music as much as possible and know that they have a crew and a bunch of brothers there who are going to sort it all out for them. You don't need a label to get music out there but to be free and to be relaxed, I think labels are a really helpful thing. A group of mates really.
On Music Being Art:
I think the term "Keepin it real" is quite a cheesy thing to say, but I really just like to make music. I like to make music, and I like to create shit for the point of creating. I've always looked at it like, when you're writing a piece of music, basically you're trying to create a spark and that spark might catch fire and the heat is the money and the smoke is the fame and the size is the notoriety.
If you're just concentrating on the spark, the rest is just an accidental bi-product. You never know how much smoke you're going to generate, how much heat you're going to generate. But the spark is the only thing you have control of so enjoy that part of it and the rest will come or not come but who gives a shit. Thats how I've always looked at it.
On His Spark:
It kind of happened over night. It all kind of kicked off for me when I was 18, so I guess I put some grind in but it was like teenage love. It was an organic thing where I discovered dubstep and I had been writing really wobbly drum and bass and no one liked it but then I heard dubstep and was like, "They use wobbly sounds as well. I know how to do those" and it just picked up from there. I started writing and I woke up one morning and 10 people liked it and I was like "Cool I can stick with this a bit," then it was 100 then it was 1000, so that was my first spark.
On Dance Music:
I've never really liked dance music. I like electronic music like The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers, but I always felt like dance music was like an exclusive club of its own, like Tiesto. I love Tiesto. He's awesome and now that I've met him and hung out with him and realized he's doing it all for the love and the same reasons as me. But from the perspective of a teenager I looked at it like Ibiza. "Put your hands in the air" and that wasn’t where I was coming from. I couldn't connect with that.
Then I saw Rusko, and he was just jumping around all sweaty playing mad music and I was like, "Shit that could be me." And I thought, "I could actually do that I don't have to wear some aviators and go to Ibiza. I can do my thing" and it kicked me in the ass a bit to think, "Hey this is something I can achieve."