Flux Pavilion‘s debut full length album, Tesla, dropped on September 18th. Of course with any album, comes the tour. As we sit down for our interview, Flux is busy handrolling a cigarette and exclaims how great it is to finally have something to promote and talk about in interviews. I was lucky enough to talk to Flux Pavilion a couple of hours before he took the stage at Aragon Ballroom. His new show features pretty much all of Tesla, live instruments, an incredible production level to go along with it, and all your favorite old school Flux Pavilion tunes. You could feel the room’s collective goosebumps and excitement when he teased, “I Can’t Stop” about 25 minutes into his set – followed by a primal scream from eager Flux fans when it finally dropped shortly after.
If you have never had the chance to sit with Flux and talk to him about his music, then it’s hard to put into words just how excited he becomes. He loves creating a connection to his music and making sure that everything he puts out is Flux Pavilion.
You are currently on tour supporting your new album, Tesla, how was that been so far?
Oh man, it’s been so awesome, really cool, I play the whole album in my set. I kind of switch stuff up a bit, I play the guitar live, do a bit of singing, stuff like that. It’s been interesting for me to really push myself.
Have you ever done live instrumentation?
Not as Flux Pavilion, I used to, probably about 10 years ago. I used to play and sing and play drums in bands and stuff like that.
That’s awesome! It’s kind of like bringing back your roots to where you are now.
Yeah, it’s been nice to bring some of those things back into my musical life again. Get that experience. Really get to push yourself in these different places that I haven’t before.
Totally, what tour stops are you most excited for coming up?
Tonight in Chicago, definitely. But to be honest, all of them. There’s never a show where I’m like, “Ughh I don’t want to do that.” It’s great to be able to play my music out to people.
It’s a little humbling, no?
Oh, fuck yeah. It’s more than a little humbling. It’s a very beautiful thing. It’s what keeps everything going – the connection, you know? Seeing people enjoy the music…OR not enjoy the music and be like, “huh – interesting.” That is the biggest thing. Just being able to experience it with other people. It’s not just me watching other people, it’s me playing my own music.
When you’re playing in front of a crowd, how do you balance wanting to play out the music you want to play with sort of ‘catering to the crowd’ and making sure the crowd is happy with the tunes?
You know, I sometimes take the position of, “You know what, I’m not going to pander to this crowd.” But the thing is, music isn’t just for one person. Even though i do write it for me, at the end of the day I want to make sure that Flux Pavillion is what I want it to be. It’s the connection with other people and people connected to music all over the world that makes it special and does make it important. The fans are just as much of Flux Pavilion as I am, really.
On Tesla you worked on a lot of new sounds that a lot of people had not heard from you, what would your response to be to people that say things like, “Oh this isn’t the Flux Pavilion sound!” Because I abhor that comment – and I’m sure you don’t like it either.
Well, it was a conscious decision to do that. So I’ve got a sound, right? That signature Flux Pavilion song. You know it, I know it, they know it. So it’s like how do I keep doing this forever? Or like how do I do a full album when I have such a defined sound. So I decided to scrap it and be like, you know what? I’m gonna concentrate on the Flux Pavilion feeling. So, like, when you play a Dillon [Francis] track, you can feel it. It has this feeling – you can imagine that you’re Dillon Francis. It’s the same with Skrillex and Diplo. Any artist that you love really. I think the best part about listening to music isn’t what it sounds like but what it really makes you feel.
That’s such a cool way of thinking about it.
That’s just really what I love about music. Like when you listen to motown and all that shit. You were listening to what was really happening in those studios. You start to soak up that feeling. You’re getting a snapshot of how they were feeling at the time. I really wanted to write a record that is that to me. It doesn’t matter if my album doesn’t sound like Flux Pavilion, as long as I make sure it feels like Flux Pavilion. I have put out records that sound like Flux, but don’t feel like Flux. So I was like, that’s the wrong- no fuck that sound. That’s kind of why I did it. That’s why it sounded so different. But it was a choice I had to make.
You have a handful of awesome collaborators on Tesla Some more noticeable than others. Can I ask how you and Riff-Raff linked up? Did you reach out to him? Did he want to hop on one of your tracks?
Well me and Riff have been talking to for a while. We did a track together for Three Loko with him and Andy [Milonakis] and Dirt Nasty. I kept saying to him, let’s do more. And he was all for it but he said “I don’t want to do Three Loko, I want to do Riff-Raff.” So I just kept sending him beats, and we would meet up whenever we were both in the same town. And one day I sent him a beat and he sent me a verse. And I e-mailed him back and said, “I need two verses.” So he sent me another one like that same day.
I’ve always really liked that dude. He’s a goofball, but it doesn’t feel fake whenever I’m with him. This dude is actually being himself. Himself happens to be this Riff-Raff thing. To me, that’s an awesome thing. Someone’s got the fucking guts to be themselves and actually lives this kind of outrageous, showy, colorful person. In a sense, it’s brave. I always love hanging out with him.
You’ve been putting out music of all sorts for a while, do you consider Tesla a true collection of all your experiences, musical or otherwise up until now?
I feel like it’s the closing of chapter one of Flux Pavilion. It’s kind of my ‘spiritual’ third album. I imagine ‘I Can’t Stop,’ ‘Cracks,’ and ‘Goldust‘ as my first album, ‘Blow The Roof Off‘ and ‘Freeway‘ as my second album – with a bit more experimentation. Tesla is kind of my third album even though it’s really my first. You have to remember, I started working on Flux when I was seventeen. So as everything picked up speed and started to spiral, I found myself getting a bit lost in this whirlwind and saying – “What direction am I going?” As I kind of just floated all over the place. This record for me was to put an end to all of that and put a definition and be like, HERE is everything I have achieved up to this point and this is where my head is at. Now I can sort of rinse and repeat and start again in a way. It’s really awesome that Tesla turned out to be the album I always wanted write and it has sort of given me the freedom to just go back and write shitloads of real, loud, silly sort of dance floor dubstep. For a while there I didn’t feel like I could do that because I wanted to be serious but now I feel like I’ve done something serious. I can allow myself to just go back and not give a fuck again. Which brings me back to being 17 years old again and saying, “I don’t care what I do!”
As you get older you get more and more worried on questions like, ‘What will people think?’ or ‘What kind of act should I be?’ or ‘What’s my legacy?’ And it’s just nice to be able to press refresh on all of that and say, “Fuck all that shit – I don’t have to take myself so seriously all the time and I can just have fun for a while.”
Who do you like putting out music right now?
A huge shout out to Flux Pavilion for sitting down with us, and good luck on the rest of your tour!