Harley Streten, AKA Flume, is a DJ and producer that I’ve been a fan of for almost a decade now. Last year, I was finally able to see him perform, and oh my, his dazzling array of hypnotic strobing through each of his bass-crunching dance tunes showed the Warehouse Project crowd how it should be done. Although he’s technically only released two studio albums and a full mixtape, he’s an artist that’s blown up in recent times.
Everyone remembers 2012 as that mad year full of speculation and hysteria about the world ending. But here we are. For Flume, it was when he finally let his debut record take flight. This self-titled album enlisted help from Chet Faker, Jezzabell Doran and more, and it soared to number two in the ARIA Albums Chart. The Aussie DJ’s major single at the time, ‘Holdin On’ (which is also my undying favourite), ranked fourth on the Triple J Hottest 100, too. Pretty big news for the rising artist.
That kudos earned him top-billed spots at Lollapalooza and Coachella, which some would argue is when a musician knows they’ve made it. As Flume, he also remixed Lorde’s anthemic ‘Tennis Courts’, worked with Miike Snow and paired with Emoh Instead to form What So Not, a DJ duo side project that’s since enjoyed some EDM success.
On the expanded edition of ‘Flume’, things got even more exciting — particularly if you’re into rap. Hip-hop legend, Freddie Gibbs, provided guest vocals on the already-praised ‘Holdin On’, to create one hell of a fiery remix. And that wasn’t all — none other than Ghostface Killah joined him on ‘Space Cadet’. That disc really took things to another level for me, and it was at that point that I knew Flume was going to be an artist I treasured.
Getting under your skin
It isn’t necessarily the case that a musician hits the nail on the head even more precisely with their sophomore album. But for Harley Streten’s Flume monicker, ‘Skin’, his second studio record, was even stronger than his first shot. This Sydney-born superstar-in-the-making scored a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album in 2017 for this masterpiece.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Skin’ made waves across the music scene, rippling into various genres, thanks to his top-drawer collaborations. Vic Mensa, Allan Kingdom, Tove Lo, Raekwon, Beck and Little Dragon were among the album’s breathtaking line-up. If I look back through my Spotify account, ‘Lose It’ is one of my most-rinsed tracks, with ‘Smoke & Retribution’ and ‘Tiny Cities’ being way up there, too. The floods of emotion I had when he played these at WHP — wow.
Around this same time, Flume’s connections were pulling in the production jobs as well. He assisted with Vince Staples’ ‘Big Fish Theory’ and Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’.
What’s the latest?
When Flume isn’t showing off just how much his dog does resemble fried chicken on Instagram (cute), he’s in the studio curating thumpingly great new beats. These are best showcased on the 17-tracker, ‘Hi This Is Flume’. It features KUČKA again, along with new pals, JPEGMafia and slowthai. If you’re late to the party in checking this out, start with ‘High Beams’, ‘Spring’, ‘Daze 22.00’ and ‘How To Build A Relationship’.
This guy doesn’t sit still. Beyond that, he’s been dropping tracks left, right and centre over the past year. ‘Quits’ and ‘Levitate’ — both with Reo Cragun — take you on a journey. The wistful nature of the electronics and humble lyrics fuse together to create something stunning on both songs. I was pleased ‘Quits’ got the airtime it deserved at WHP. Even more recently, I can’t get enough of ‘The Difference’, an achingly catchy offering with Toro y Moi.
So, there you have it — a look back on a modern day disc-jockeying hero, with a few recommendations for good measure.