flux pavilion

Anything You Can Do, Flux Pavilion Can Do Better

The U.K. dance music producer womped and wobbled his way to the top, and works hard to stay there

Josh Steele has created a dedicated following for himself under his artist name Flux Pavilion. Steele’s bass-heavy tracks helped push dubstep to the forefront of dance music in the 2010s, and he’s still playing his wobbly sounds for crowds including the sunbathing partiers of Rehab at Hard Rock Hotel on July 30. One thing that’s kept Steele on top of his game for so many years is his refusal to become comfortable within the music game. His philosophy on his art is that anything a new producer can do, he should be able to do … but better.

You have a track with NGHTMRE that’s not officially out yet, right?

We’re looking to put it out in a few months, I believe. Maybe next month. I’m not entirely sure.

Why not?

The second a song is finished, I want to release it as quickly as I possibly can. We finished earlier this year, so we were planning on putting it out as soon as possible. Due to a variety of annoying occurrences, it’s just getting pushed back. It’s like all contractual and legal stuff.

I’ve already heard it online. Was that just a rip from a set?

We’ve been playing it, and we’ve given it to a whole bunch of people for months now. It’s been all around the circuit. It’s weird: You’re working on music and then you don’t get to release it for a year and a half, and I just believe the concept of making music and stopping people from being able to listen to it seems … it doesn’t seem like it should work like that. I make music so people can listen to it. So, yeah, writing a song, and then holding onto it for months so people can’t hear it is kind of against what I like. I just play music out straight away, and it gets ripped and it’s cool, as long as people are listening to it.

Is that your way around all of the legal roadblocks?

It doesn’t necessarily please the label, or please my management. I don’t really care. If someone’s going to find a copy of my track and download it illegally, I’d rather someone be listening to my music than be stopped from it. Just [because of] the fact that they want to listen to it, it should be accessible to them. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it. I just play stuff out. I try not to keep stuff a secret.

Have you ever debuted a track, then decided that you were going to completely change it, so then the rips aren’t of the actual, finished song?

I can normally get away with playing something just randomly, at a few shows, and no one will really notice because it’s just kind of in the moment. Out of every 10 sets, maybe one will get recorded. I pick and choose which ones I test things out on, basically.

EDC Las Vegas, then, probably didn’t get to hear your new work.

Yeah. If I worked on a new idea that morning, I probably won’t play it at EDC. Which is a good practice, because I’m not sure all those people paid all that money to hear some weird idea that I came up with. I always make sure that it’s as professional as possible.

How do you choose with whom you work?

I’m always dreading that the new guys are going to be better. When I hear a new kid and his music excites me more than my own music, that kicks me up the arse to get more creative and get more experimental in my own stuff. NGHTMRE was like that. I heard his stuff and I thought, “Damn, his new things are better than my new things, so I need to kick myself up the arse and keep on top of this.”

Your collaborators keep you working hard, then.

It’s really important for a new artist or an established artist to always be ready for someone to take your space, for someone to fill your shoes. If you get complacent and lazy and think you’re always going to be on top, someone’s going to take that from you—someone who’s hungrier, someone who works harder. So it’s important, wherever you are, to always just be prepared to work, and be prepared for it to all be over.