A quick listen to "Blow The Roof," the new EP from UK DJ and producer Flux Pavilion, might have you thinking you've put on a compilation rather than an artist album. On what he describes as "the biggest thing I've ever done," you hear a wide range of the artist's influences and interests, not just his signature dubstep.
"I like to give every track its own flavor," he explained. "When I write music I write whatever is on my brain at that moment. One day I can be working on this weird glitchy pop song, and the next day it can be a dubstep track."
Hear the exclusive premiere of the track 'Starlight':
Before he became Flux Pavilion, an 11-year-old boy named Josh Steele got a guitar and learned how to play by imitating System of a Down, Korn, and Tool. This led to a few years playing guitar and singing in rock bands before college, where he studied composition and music technology. "In my own time I wanted to still write music," Flux said of his college days. "I started to write electronic music on my own and that turned into hip-hop. Then when I heard dubstep, I was already writing that sort of stuff -- hip-hop with wobbly basslines, essentially."
Hip-hop shows up prominently on "Blow The Roof." Tracks like "Double Edge" and "Do or Die" are hip-hop-based with a wallop of bass, the latter featuring a collaboration with Childish Gambino. The two worked together remotely, sending only a few iterations of the track back and forth before it was finished. Given the common beat and swag of hip-hop and dubstep, the genre merger shouldn't be too surprising. After all, Kanye West and Jay-Z sampled Flux's 2011 tune "I Can't Stop" on their "Who Gon Stop Me" from Watch The Throne.
It's on songs "The Scientist" and "Starlight" where "Blow The Roof" delivers the biggest surprises. Those tunes, Flux says, "are a lot more like tracks I would have written five or six years ago" back in his rock band days. Both feature his own vocals – a raspy, relaxed tenor – and lyrics that wouldn't be out of place on an indie rock album. "Starlight" in particular was a breakthrough of sorts for the artist. "I wanted to have the drop and a big 'I Can't Stop'-esque epic track but I also wanted to write a song."
While there might not be a drop, there's still plenty of bass, a reflection of Flux's own state of mind, which he claims is fixated on the dance floor -- for now, at least.
"I try my hardest to make relaxing music; that's the kind of music I like to listen to," citing The Strokes, Super Furry Animals, and Bon Iver as influences. "Starlight" and "I Feel It," he says "started off with me singing at the piano, but I realized I can't really play this in my sets."
While "Blow The Roof" is the result of 18 months of work, done largely on the road, in between gigs, in airports and hotels, Flux says we won't wait that long for a follow-up. "I'm going to write a whole bunch more. The next three or four months for me are just doing shows and writing music in hotel rooms. As long as there's a mini-bar with some coconut water in there, I can deal with that."
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