Safe In Sound Festival at Myth in Saint Paul was surely one of the biggest, if not THE BIGGEST, Dupstep events the Twin Cities has ever seen. Having been able to have Beat Contributors on site to interview the most influential names in the industry was quite the honor. It’s no secret that Flux Pavilion has been tearin’ up the game sine he started performing in 2008, and after talking with him, we know why. Flux is extremely talented, yet still very humble. He took the time to talk to us about the beginnings of Circus records, working on his new album, and a forthcoming live project he plans to some day take on the road.
“Flux Pavilion is the co-founder of Circus Records, along with Doctor P, DJ Swan-E, and Earl Falconer of UB40. In 2011 he produced the single “Bass Cannon,” which peaked at number 56 on the UK Singles Chart and was placed on the Radio 1 A-List. Along with Doctor P, Flux Pavilion presented the 2011 compilation album, Circus One, to which he contributed four tracks. He is arguably best known for his song “I Can’t Stop” from the Lines in Wax EP” (wikipedia).
TBM: Alright, so we’re here with Josh Steele, aka Flux Pavilion. Care to introduce yourself?
Flux: … I am Flux Pavilion. I am also Josh Steele. I am, indeed, both of those people.
TBM: So to begin, how about you tell us a little bit about how you started of your Flux Pavilion project?
Flux: Umm… I like that you put it like that, because in the past six months I have begun seeing it as a project, where as before it was always everything that I am. The inception of it was that I wanted to write some music and here’s the music I’m writing and here’s me, Flux Pavilion. It was kind of a title for everything that I was working on, and now I’m starting to realize there are many facets to all the things I like working on. So the actual concept of Flux Pavilion being a project that I’ve been working on has only really been around for about six months. Before that it was just an alter ego, I guess.
TBM: So what inspired you to write music in the first place and insert yourself into the global music scene?
Flux: I never really knew about any scenes. I grew up in a small town where all we had were pubs and hairdressers. We had about seven barbers and ten pubs, and that was all there was. All you could do was get your hair cut and watch football (soccer). So, me and my friends started picking up guitars and doing something as a hobby. I wasn’t really interested in anything else, but I love listening to music so I figured I should probably just write some of my own, I guess.
TBM: Being from such a quaint town, which likely had a very minimal music scene, was it hard for Flux Pavilion to get legs? How did you progress and get your music career off the ground?
Flux: Well the interesting thing is that it wasn’t even a small scene. There was no scene. It was literally just a bunch of us playing guitar and hanging out, and then I kind of met up with Doctor P when I was about 12 and we started playing in bands. He was always working on Drum and Bass and stuff like that, then he went away to University and did more with Drum and Bass and started playing shows. He got signed, and I was still back at home. I then went off to Uni[verstiy]. The second night I was walking past some Uni flat, and they were playing some really loud Drum and Bass, and I thought, “Wow, this really seems like a cool place to be.” So I walked in there, and as I walked in there, somebody put on Skream – “Watch the Ride.” Then I heard Dubstep, and I’d always made really wobbly Drum and Bass music, but even Doctor P didn’t play it in his sets because it was really bad. But as soon as I heard Dubstep, I was like, “Ah! This is all the stuff I’ve been working on anyway, and at the exact right tempo.” So I decided to start writing some of that, and I started learning more about the scene, and that was my kind of enlightening point where I started realizing that there is actually loads of big industry and scenes and promoters and all sorts of cliques everywhere. It was quite simple, really. I just wanted to write some tunes.
TBM: That’s interesting that your journey was aided like that by Doctor P. You mentioned you became friends around 12, but when did you begin to talk about starting Circus Records together?
Flux: Well he was signed to this label called Maximum Boost, and he used to be called Picto back when he did Drum and Bass. I had just started writing Dubstep and releasing a few things here and there and Doctor P wrote a tune called “Streets of Rage,” which was awesome. So he sent me the parts, and I did a Dubstep remix of it, and the Drum and Bass label that he was signed to decided they didn’t really want to release it because they were a Drum and Bass label and this was some other thing. But then they started inviting me around, and said, “You know you’re clearly very into this, and you’re good friends with Sean… how about we start up a new label with the three of us?” I was still trying to get signed to other labels, but all the tunes I couldn’t get picked up I was like, “Oh at least I can put it out on Circus.” And then I realized that all the tracks I really loved, nobody wanted to sign. It was the same way with Doctor P; we were writing really weird stuff that none of the other labels were pushing, so we were like cool we’ve got Circus, let’s push this. Then stuff started kicking off, and we realized that’s what Circus always should have been. It was a way to get away from other people telling you what’s good and what’s not and more of a platform for writing what was us. That’s why we didn’t originally think about signing acts, but then we started talking to artists like Cookie Monsta and Funtcase, and they were like, “Oh we really like writing this stuff but we don’t know if it’s going to work.” That’s what Circus is. It’s music that’s been made out of love, and who knows if it’s going to work? Like, who gives a shit if it’s going to work? As long as it works for you when you’re writing it at that point, we’re gonna put it together and release it and see what people think. But it all started just as a place for me to release that first remix.
TBM: Well having an outlet like Circus Records, that began as a platform for you to publish the songs you love, what has your response or reaction been to the hyper-popularity of your biggest songs such as “Bass Cannon” or “Gold Dust”?
Flux: Just kind of been like, non-stop. It was pretty intense. “Bass Cannon,” “I Can’t Stop,” “Cracks,” and “Gold Dust” all in the same space of about three months, as well as “Got to Know.” Doctor P had just done “Sweet Shop,” so I guess in Circus I was always kind of the Dubstep guy. Sean was a friend, and the others had gotten involved because they knew business, and I was the Dubstep guy. Next thing I knew, the line-ups were going Doctor P, Cookie Monsta, Funtcase and then me… and I was like, “Shit. I’ve got to do something about this.” And then I wrote all of those tracks out of a drive. Then it all came out, and I’ve been riding it ever since. The crowds got bigger, and then I actually got more time to work on my music. It was the fundamental change where I’ve all of a sudden gotten a thumbs up from the world as if they were saying, “Yes, we quite like your music.” So I thought cool I’m going to do some more now. It’s what I always wanted to do, so the idea that I can do that is quite nice.
TBM: So Flux has clearly been doing well, but I believe I’ve caught wind of some alternate musical project that you’ve been working on?
Flux: Well it’s not necessarily a new project yet. I’ve been working on a new album, and I’ve got so many songs. Rather than writing certain kind of songs, I’ve just been sitting down with an idea and working with it. So I’ve got some 80’s kind of disco stuff, as well as some slow jam 808 groovy stuff with me singing on it, and some massive Dubstep tracks and Big House tunes. I’ve just kind of been realizing there’s a separation there for me as a creator. There’s a thing that makes Flux Pavilion what it is, and then there’s other stuff, these other ideas that I’ve been chasing that don’t tickle the boxes for me for what Flux Pavilion is, but I’m still equally happy with the writing. If I start imposing that upon Flux Pavilion, then Flux Pavilion at the core of what’s great about it gets frazzled and worn down. So that’s where the idea of a secondary project comes in. Once I’ve finished this Flux album, I’m going to try to buy some time to work on these other ideas and see where that takes me.
TBM: Do you have any alter ego or alias or any other branding elements that you’ve developed for your forthcoming musical tangent?
Flux: Not yet. At the moment I’m just focusing on finishing this Flux album. That’s what’s taking focus, is making sure this album is the strongest thing that Flux Pavilion has ever put on. I want to capture everything that has ever made Flux Pavilion great, and not necessarily in the way it sounds, but the way it feels. I want the record to feel good the way a Prodigy album does. It’s not any particular kind of style. I’m taking the same approach with this record, there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t feel like Flux Pavilion, so it’ll start feeling like something else at some point.
TBM: Is there anything more you can tell us about what you’ve been creating for this upcoming Flux record?
Flux: Well I was playing a bunch of stuff to the Destroid guys the other night, and I realized there’s way more four to the floor kind of rhythm stuff that I’ve ever written in my entire life.
TBM: By that do you mean that you’ve been writing tracks that capture a sort of house feel or are you taking that rough template and putting your own spin on it?
Flux: There are many varying tempos. Some stuff is at 140, some at 175… all the tempos pretty much. But for some reason, with the idea of really trying to capture that… you know when a track hits and you get goose bumps and you put your hands up because you want to and not because someone’s screaming at you to put your hands up. I’m just trying to capture that in the music itself so that I can just play any of those tunes and people can vibe off of it and feel it. That’s come across as much more of a four to the floor styled rhythm, which is something that I’ve never done in my life. I was kind of like, “Shit, where did this come from?”
TBM: Have you ever experimented with using live instrumentation elements in your shows?
Flux: Well I actually do have a live band. We played one show in the UK. We’re ready to tour now. It’s me playing guitar and singing, a woman doing vocals, a guy playing all the lead lines on a keytar. We’ve also got another guy playing a bass guitar that also picks up midi notes so he can play all the bass samples as well as a live drummer. So it’s basically re-creating the music with the intent to elaborate on top of it. But I stopped it, not a full stop, but I’ve put a comma on the project because I haven’t put out a really big, fresh lot of music. If I was taking it on the road now, it would be all the same stuff, and I want to take the show on the road where it’s all new music in a way people have never heard it before.
TBM: Well thanks so much for meeting with us! I look forward to hearing what Flux Pavilion has in store for the world.
Article by Dan Crittenden
YouTube Vid / Music compliments of Flux Pavilion
Photos by Mike Orgeman