Flume recently sat down with his girlfriend Paige Elkington on her ‘My Friend Podcast’ and opened up about his struggles with anxiety, use of alcohol and how he almost quit touring for good. Listen to the full episode here.
In the raw interview – which was published online on April 6 – Flume, real name Harley Streten, reveals touring once took a huge strain on his mental health. His anxiety was so overwhelming at one point, Streten says, that he considered quitting touring for good.
“I don’t like attention,” he said. “I like a little bit, but I don’t seek it, ever… I hate public speaking, I’m afraid of it.”
“This music started working and essentially I became a public speaker… my worst nightmare. I pushed through it for four or five years, being like ‘You know what? If I just keep doing this, eventually I’ll get over it’. I did it for five years, didn’t get over it.”
The two also discussed the infamous sex act they performed last year onstage at Burning Man, which Streten worried would tarnish his reputation.
“I was concerned. I had an untarnished image and I was very worried about tarnishing it, and the repercussions. Thankfully, the repercussions were minor and, if anything, it made me happier. I used to always feel the pressure of tarnishing my reputation, and now I feel like it’s tarnished… I feel liberated, I can do what I want now and not have to worry so much,” he explained. “I got the opposite of cancelled.”
When asked how he deals with the attention he gets from being in the public eye as a musician, Streten talked using alcohol to cope.
“I used a lot of alcohol. I would definitely drink to calm nerves and to make it bearable which sounds crazy but it’s the truth. I’m just not a performer. I’ve definitely used alcohol to feel comfortable on stage in front of a bunch of people.”
He said that he recognised a pattern forming, saying that “it was getting pretty bad, doing long tours and using booze like that”. Streten also revealed he no longer drinks before shows.
“I am genuinely having a great time on stage, but getting me on stage – the second I enter the festival – I’m riddled with anxiety,” he continued.
Besides abstaining from alcohol, therapy and anti-depressants helped Streten, he said.
“I went to a therapist and I was like ‘I hate my job’… I feel like a bad person for saying that, but it’s true.”
“I did actually start taking some anti-depressants… it has worked incredibly well with the anxiety,” he added. “I still get anxiety before shows and stuff, but it’s manageable now. I used to get anxious going to get a coffee and going up to the barista. Just general interactions like that, I’d get neurotic and overthink… I was like ‘Fuck it, I’ll give [anti-depressants] a go and if I don’t like it I can quit in like a month’. So I did, and it’s been like a silver bullet.”
Flume also revealed he is currently in the process of writing and producing his next record, which he said he hopes to finish within three months.
His latest single, ‘The Difference’, was released last month and saw him collaborate with Toro y Moi for the very first time.
FOR HELP AND ADVICE ON MENTAL HEALTH:
- ‘Am I depressed?’ – help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- MIND – For mental health support, advice and awareness
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably for young men
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day
- SANE Australia – National mental health charity supporting Australians affected by complex mental illness
- Black Dog Institute – Putting health in mind
- Mental Health Australia – Mentally healthy people, mentally healthy communities
- Headspace Australia – National Youth Mental Health Foundation