Undoubtedly, one of this fall’s most anticipated tours is Safe In Sound, featuring massive headliners Flux Pavilion, Destroid, and Adventure Club, among many other top-tier supporting acts. The festival is nationwide and will likely sell out every date, a basshead’s wet dream. As the tour is about to start off, I managed to catch up with Josh Steele, aka Flux Pavilion, and ask him some burning questions.
Growing up in the UK, were you able to see any DJs or even bands that are now friends with?
I was never really that into dance music so I didn’t really go out to too many shows. But the few parties I did go out to were like Caspa and Rusko which is what got me into it. So now, getting to actually hang out with them is quite insane. When I first saw Rusko play, he had this big cardboard hat on that looked like a bird. My impression of what a DJ was is this kind of like Spanish guy in a vest looking real cool, but then I went to see Rusko and it was outrageous. That was the point where I began to think, “This is something that I can do.”
When you were approached to headline Safe In Sound with Adventure Club & Destroid, were you immediately ready to go? What was your first impression?
We’ve been talking about it for ages, since before any of the others were confirmed. I think I was one of the first people that it was kind of like, being built around, as far as I knew. When it finally all came together, I was ready to go. It’s been in my diary for ages. One of the guys who’s involved in it is from Terravita and they’re good friends, I see them all the time and we’ve been talking about this tour since January.
Ookay was just the most recent (that I know of) DJ to break his arm during a set, and keep going. How much did the sling really affect your abilities on the last tour?
Not so much, it was weird with the set itself. My mixing style tends to use a lot of effects and EQ … what I used to do before was “put the track in, put the track out” but now what with getting used to the equipment like the DJM and stuff, there’s all the reverbs and stuff and you can make some mad noises. And that became such an integral part of my set, I couldn’t do it because I only had one hand. So I had to completely re-learn how I was putting the tracks out there. I couldn’t just make a massive wash of reverb that feels really epic and then build into that again. I don’t use a laptop or anything, so I can’t really pre-plan a lot of these sort of epic drops, that is all done with effects when I play — doing a quick loop, and using the effects, and using the actual capabilities of the mixer, which I could not do with a broken arm, which was quite annoying.
What has Circus Records done to give back to the community, either the UK or its fans? If nothing, what would you like to see done?
We haven’t really done so much collectively. One thing I’d be interested in getting together and doing is something to with kids around 14-17 years old struggling with anxiety, because I’ve always struggled with anxiety myself. When I was about 13 or 14 or so, I would have panic attacks and I’ve had to learn how to live with it. I heard about this charity “Don’t Worry, It Gets Better” and I’ve searched for it and can’t find anything about it anywhere. But just that name makes me think of everything I would have liked to hear as a 13-year-old kid. I’ve been looking into doing something, maybe like a workshop or a talk. When you’re 14, you’re depressed — you don’t really know about life yet. But I was in that exact position, and then now, just by persevering and sticking with it, just trying to stay as happy as possible and doing what I love, now everything is cool. So that’s something that I’d really like to get involved in.
How much time would you say is spent in the office, touring, or working on music? What’s the best way to manage your time between everything?
It’s kind of all the time, really. There’s not much time management other than working out when to sleep, and that can rarely happen, especially with touring. I just did a weekend where I had to play in Ibiza and then I had to fly to Düsseldorf, then fly to Vienna, then drive to Slovakia, play a show in Slovakia, drive back to Vienna, fly from Vienna to Paris, and then fly to Minneapolis, and then drive into Wisconsin, play a show, then drive back to the hotel then go to the airport and fly back to London and then I had a studio session the next day. I probably got about 5 hours of sleep, that was over 3 days. And then I’ve just had to do a remix and work on my album at the same time.
The first track I heard your vocals on was Frozen by Freestylers. Then of course, there were plenty of tracks on Freeway and Blow The Roof. Can we expect to hear more of your voice in the future?
The plan was to sing on everything. And then now the plan is to sing on nothing. I started feeling like when I was singing on stuff, that started taking focus, and I realized that what’s great about Flux Pavilion was sitting at the side and I was concentrating more on my singing. Whereas what’s great about Flux Pavilion is how the tracks feel, and the energy. About three or four years ago, what I’d think about with a track is how it made my stomach feel and did it give me goosebumps and did it make me want to dance. Then when a writer is playing guitar, he’s thinking about the words and thinking about how I’m singing it and all that kind of stuff. And I noticed when I was fusing the two together, I actually stopped concentrating on what was fundamentally great about Flux Pavilion in the first place. So I thought, maybe it would be best to do two projects. So rather than diluting the both of them and try to smush them together, I’m just going to keep them separate. So what I’m concentrating on now is to nail Flux Pavilion. I’ve felt that the more I was trying to diversify, the more I was taking myself away from what I loved about it in the first place which was making really mad, awesome, ridiculous epic music. And then you start thinking, “I need to do something that’s more creative or more experimental …” As soon as all these ideas start coming in, I was losing focus on what I loved about Flux Pavilion in the first place.
Do you have a name for the other project or is it just something for the future?
Right now I’m just concentrating on Flux, and I’ll do this record, and maybe another one and another one and another one or whatever. When I write music, I write lots and lots of music, so I’ve already written about 30 tracks. About 20 of those, I could play them to you, and you might enjoy them, but if I was to ask, “Does this sound like a Flux Pavilion record?” you’d say “No, definitely not.” So naturally, something else may formulate, or Flux Pavilion might go in a different direction, but rather than it being a specific choice, I want it to happen naturally, and that means I have to concentrate on what Flux is, and see where that goes, rather than where I want it to go. Because otherwise I’ll probably land somewhere in the middle.
In an interview, Armin Van Buuren was asked if trance was dead. His curt response, “Go fuck yourself, it’s alive” seemed to basically sum up the argument. Can you say anything to that effect to people saying that dubstep is dead?
Yeah, that argument is pretty out of fashion now, isn’t it? It’s so out of fashion, people I talk to are like, “Oh, do you know people are into dubstep now?” It’s starting to flip around where the talk of the town is how good these dubstep tracks are. For me, it’s always been… The Beatles, you could say that their stuff is dead, in terms of is it trending, is it #1 on Hype Machine, they don’t have many Twitter followers, they’re not even on Vine.
What would you say is the biggest difference between performing in Europe and the US?
The weather? That’s always pretty different. I’ve been asked this question so much, you know, it’s always like you’ve got to play it safe. So what I really say is, everywhere has its perks. The differences are purely cultural and there’s no way to really compare that in a musical sense. There’s nowhere that I’ve been to that I’ve been like, “I’m never going back there.”
Really quick – what can we expect from the Safe In Sound tour, and from you in particular?
Lots of music, is the main thing. I’m going to at least play at set. Other than that, Jeff (Excision) is bringing a trailer on his bus with speakers, like a portable studio set-up. So we can maybe do some collabs – I’ve been talking to Adventure Club about doing some work together, and me and Destroid, and then Terravita and Doctor P and UZ are on the road. We always talk about writing music, so we’re finally planning on getting something done, so I imagine sometime next year there will be some collaborations. If you see a Flux/Excision collab, it definitely happened on the Safe In Sound tour.
Is there a release date we can expect for the album, just in general?
Hmm… nah. I don’t even know when I’m going to finish it yet. I’m hoping to wrap it up sometime this year, and then the powers that be decide when it comes out. I would rather put it out as soon as it’s finished, but there’s other stuff that goes into it.