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Nov 19

The Tightrope of A Circus Recordmaster

 

Flux_Pavillion_JBrasted 0520

 

A pioneer of dubstep. A true BASS-music virtuoso. His family and close friends might call Mr. Steele by his given name, Joshua, but the massive crowds that his music draws know him affectionately as “Flux Pavillion.” I was fortunate enough to get the chance to sit down with Josh to discuss his personal journey into electronic music, the founding of Circus Records, and his intentions for the evolution of the Flux Pavillion concept.

 

Where did the moniker “Flux Pavillion” come from?

Do you mean the name itself or just the general idea of “Flux Pavillion?” Just the name itself, but if you feel inclined to explore the concept as well, I won’t stop you.

The name just came out of nowhere. I used to be in a band with another guy and Doctor P, when I was 13. We wrote a bunch of band names on a guitar. One of them was Flux Pavillion.

 

You and Doctor P grew up in the same town, right?

Yes, we did. I would probably butcher the name. Towcester.

Yeah, Doctor P started making drum-n-bass. I gave it a go and started producing hip-hop beats but more like Mr. Scruff and Quantic. That kind of hip-hop, trip-hop really. So I needed a name for that and that’s where Flux Pavillion comes in.

 

You guys hadn’t formed Circus Records at this point, right?

No. I was still at university at this point. I was playing in bands and stuff. Singing and playing guitar. Just having fun with bands and then I heard dubstep. I already had Flux Pavillion as a name so I started writing dubstep. I actually had two MySpaces, right. One was “The Lighter Side of Flux Pavillion,” which was my hip-hop and one was “The Darker Side of Flux Pavillion,” which was my dubstep one. So, for like the first year of my career, my name was “The Darker Side of Flux Pavillion.” That doesn’t fit as well on a t-shirt :) It got to the point that almost no one was listening to the lighter side anymore. Everyone was asking for my website and I was, like, “It’s forward slash the darker side…” and people were like, “I can’t possibly remember that. Me and Doctor P thought I should probably shorten it and that’s how “Flux Pavillion” started.

 

What motivated you guys to start Circus Records? For a lot of artists, troubleshooting how you establish your own record company proves too overwhelming.

It was a free-for-all, where a whole bunch of guys had labels. I was writing beats. So, what you do write loads of tunes, be in contact with all these labels, and send all your tunes to everyone and hope they get signed. I had one track signed to a label in Seattle. I had two signed to Excision’s label, and I two signed to N-Type’s label. I was constantly pushing to try and get my tracks out there. Then I did a remix of one of Doctor P’s tracks that was signed to someone else and he didn’t want to release it. If you finish a song you want to get it released, whatever it is. If I have ten songs, I must have ten releases. So, this was the only song that I had written that hadn’t been released. I was, like, what the fuck? The guy who ran the label and wouldn’t release it said he didn’t want to release a dubstep track on a D-n-B label so Doctor P, myself, and this guy called Swan decided to start a dubstep label. That’s, basically, why we started Circus, just so we could put out that remix. Is that track posted prominently in the Circus HQ? Yeah, we have the test press vinyl in our office. I was still trying to sign people to the label. Doctor P, well Doctor P wasn’t Doctor P until Circus started. We went into the studio to do a collaboration, literally so we would have something on the other side of the record. “Shit, we need a B-side.” We made something in about four hours. Cool, there’s the B-side. He was known as DJ Pinkton. He was, like, “Fuck, I need a name.” Boom. Doctor P. He said that’ll work, I guess. Then we started realizing that all of the tracks that we really liked were the ones that nobody else wanted to sign. Well, we’ve got our label so we can release anything we want to now.

 

The Digital Age kind of changed things, in respect to releasing tracks…

We did vinyl for, like, the first twelve releases..maybe the first nine or so. The idea was that we can make whatever music we like because we don’t have to try and sign it to any label because we’ve got our own now. That was the real meaning of Circus…not having to deal with any of that bullshit anymore.

 

You spend a lot of time traveling, on the road and in the air.

Probably at least seven months out of the year.

 

With such an accelerated lifestyle, how do you schedule your “you” time?

You spend a lot of time on flights, waiting on flights, and in hotel rooms and such. I take my Playstation with me so I can plug it in wherever I go.

 

Are you a specific type of gamer?

I’m into fantasy and role-playing, sci-fi type games. I’m really into comics, too.

 

Do you plug in your own soundtrack while you play?

Nah, not really. I don’t really listen to much music. I listen to music when I’m out playing shows, but in my down time. I make enough music that I don’t really need to listen to it while I’m relaxing.

 

Who’s somebody that you would like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet? Whose style would complement yours well? Since genres are fusing so who would merge well with you, artistically? There’s quite a lot of people, really. That’s the thing. Electronic music to me isn’t dance music. It doesn’t have to be dance music. There doesn’t have to be a DJ. It’s just music that has been made electronically. I really want to work with people that could bring something fresh to electronic music, like, Jonsi  from Sigur Rós” or Sigur Rós, in general…Bon Iver, doing a deep track with Bon Iver. I want to hear Bon Iver on a massive base. You can design the platform so you can define the structure. Well, that’s the music that I like and go for. I don’t really go for big drops, in terms of this has to have a drop, it just has to feel like it drops in some way. So does a Strokes record or an Arctic Monkeys record. They still have the same feeling but it’s done in a different way. Imagine like Josh Hawk or The Queens of the Stone Age but everything’s been produced 100% electronically. Imagine the potential and the directions that things could be taken. It would be totally different than anything else.

 

Do you feel like the “maestro” or a composer when you’re up there behind the decks?

Well, I’m not a DJ. I’ve never been a DJ. I only do it because it’s the only way to play my music. I’m a composer and a producer, first and foremost. That’s what I do. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.

 

What are some of your favorite places that you’ve toured so far?

South America was pretty intense. I played in Santiago, in Chile. I’ve never really seen anything like it before. It’s like they were jumping up and down to my foot steps as I was walking out. Like they were ready. The energy was there from the very beginning of my set and didn’t fall until after the set ended. That was pretty insane. I was shaking after that show. That’s got to be pretty humbling.

 

Is there a venue that you would like to see your music played or that you would like to play?

Red Rocks is amazing. I played there and it was great. I’d like to headline a pyramid stage in Mexico. Did that inspire some of the visuals for the set you just threw down? I haven’t really gone there with my show yet. Over the next couple of years, I’m going to be building up the live show to include singing and guitars and stuff. I’m putting out a new record next year, which is geared towards the idea of not electronic dance music but electronic music. It can still punch you in the face but it doesn’t have to be known as electronic dance music (EDM). You know what I mean? Sex Pistols didn’t call themselves dance music but you can dance your ass off to them. That’s the direction I’m looking into.

 

How do you propose to help redefine the terminology that people are using that only allows a dichotomy of “this” or “that” when what you’re proposing is a duality?

Personally, what I like about DJing, is that you can present the music in a way that the crowd may not have ever heard it before. So you can play two tracks together and generate an entirely different energy than the way the track was intended. So, blurring the lines is definitely an interest of mine.

 

Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

I’d like to be happy like anybody else. What I’d really like is to just be a producer. Build a studio and like I was talking about earlier have bands and acts and artists come live with me for, like, two months and work on something special. They go off and do their thing and I work with someone else and then someone else and so on. To be skilled enough to do that I need to learn my craft better so, for the next five years I need to learn more about production and composition to give people the proper platform. I need to work on my own platform before I can help be the platform for others.

 

How do you recommend that you do that?

Keep focused on the task at hand. For me, with Flux Pavillion, the task at hand is to make people feel something in here (touches heart). Everyone is different and experiences something a little different but as long as they are feeling something from the music, that’s what making a record is all about. Not necessarily trying to be a genre or a specific sound, just trying to capture that Flux Pavillion feeling.

 

What’s one thing that you’ve never mentioned in an interview before?

I suffer pretty hardcore from anxiety. I have panic attacks on stage sometimes and I just swallow it down. No one ever knows that that happens. I’ve never really told anyone about that before.

 

There’s no denying that there are obstacles to achieving success in the music/entertainment industry. For an artist, there are an extensive list of contributing factors that must be identified and overcome in order to move to the next stage of the game. While some wait for that magical handshake or for their tracks to catch the right powerhouse’s ears, Josh made a proactive choice to bring the music he loves to the masses. I don’t think he’s ever looked back since the formation of Circus Records. I mean, really, why should he? We know he isn’t stopping there and that he is driven to further hone his craft and form a unique “Flux Bridge” between electronic music and live instrumentation. Although some contemporary artists are already establishing their own brand of hybrid platform, I’m extremely excited to see Flux’s vision for his future sound manifest a new dimension in the musical landscape.

 

 

 


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Photo Credit: Joshua Brasted