Flume has spoken about his experience of anxiety and mental health more broadly as part of an interview with girlfriend Paige Elkington on her podcast ‘My Friend Podcast’. In the new episode, the producer – real name Harley Streten – reveals that his struggle with anxiety when performing live led to a dependency on alcohol, and nearly led to him quitting music altogether.
“When performing, I would drink to calm nerves,” Streten says during the conversation. “I would drink to make it bearable, which sounds crazy but really it’s the truth. I’m just not a [natural] performer and I’ve definitely used alcohol to feel comfortable on stage in front of a bunch of people.”
Streten explains that while he was grateful to be able to see the world, he’s a naturally insular person, and the touring lifestyle can be at odds with his personality.
“The second I get to a festival I’m riddled with anxiety,” he says. “Even to this day, I still get anxious and I’m not really having fun till a few songs in — there are times where that changes, like with the new show and the actions… the older I get and the more I do this, the more fun I have on stage.”
At one point, the producer compares his battle with that of Swedish DJ Avicii, who took his own life in 2018 at the age of 28.
“I think people like Avicii are literally the same as me. He died because he was medicating himself just like I was, with alcohol, drugs, whatever. He wasn’t happy.”
Streten explains that he got to a point where his anxiety and subsequent dependence on alcohol nearly resulted in him leaving music. “I went to a therapist and I was like ‘I hate my job,’ and it’s fucked that I can even say that because I have an incredible job that people dream of having. I feel like a bad person for saying that, but I love making music but I hate touring.”
The producer explains that therapy, medication, not drinking and taking a different approach to touring has been effective in allowing him to manage his mental health while out on the road. “If I didn’t go on this medication, I would have quit touring forever,” he says.
The chat is pretty in-depth overall, covering a lot of ground. The producer reveals he’s hoping to finish recording his new album over the next few months, and the pair reflect on last year’s infamous Burning Man incident, and the bizarre situation of going viral as a result.
Listen to the episode below.
If you or anyone you know needs help or information regarding mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.