Flume (aka Harley Streten) has admitted that he very nearly quit music for good due to his severe social anxiety and mental health, which he revealed in an interview with his girlfriend Paige Elkington for a recent episode of her show, ‘My Friend Podcast‘.
In a chat that has the couple discussing the Big Flume Moment of 2019 and something we’ve all wanted to hear the full and true back story about – Flume going face-first into Paige’s anoos at Burning Man – he also talked about his mental health and anxiety around performing live, and how he used alcohol to cope with his severe social anxiety before playing shows.
“I mean I used a lot of alcohol,” he said. Like, when performing, I would drink to calm nerves. I would drink to make it bearable, which sounds crazy but really it’s the truth. I’m just not a performer and I’ve definitely used alcohol to feel comfortable on stage in front of people.
“Now I don’t drink before shows, because I kind of realised that was a pattern, and it was getting pretty bad.
“The second I enter the festival I’m riddled with anxiety. Even to this day, after I’ve done thousands of shows, I still get anxious.”
He also sees a lot of himself in the way that Avicii attempted to deal with his mental health issues, which made Flume thankful for his supportive team and friends, and that he’d taken steps to work on his own mental health.
“I think people like Avicii and things, are literally the same as me,” he said.
“And he died because he was medicating himself just like I was, with alcohol, drugs, whatever. He wasn’t happy.”
Flume went on to explain that his anxiety around performing in front of massive crowds and having to drink to help with the nerves and public speaking – his “biggest nightmare” – made him hate his job and left him wanting to quit.
“I was at a point where I was like ‘I don’t wanna do this anymore.’,” he said.
“When I have to use alcohol, like, I’m not having fun with this. I think I wanna quit unless I can figure something else out.”
“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.'”
Flume said that with the help of his therapist, changing the way he approaches live shows and what he does on stage, shortening tours and doing them in short bursts instead, and a script for antidepressants, he’s been able to appreciate and fall back in love with touring and performing for fans.
He also said that he wasn’t super into the idea of taking medication to help with his anxiety, but now realises that if he didn’t go on them, he wouldn’t be playing live shows anymore.
“I’ve always had anxiety problems, like social anxiety problems and I was really against taking anything for it initially because that’s my natural stance. Whether its meditation or practising going out and becoming comfortable with it over time like this was my last resort.”
“Like literally if I didn’t go on this medication, I would have quit touring forever.
Check out the full episode below, because it’s a real good look into the life of the bloke behind some of the biggest bangers of the last decade.
Have something on your mind about your mental health? You can reach out to BeyondBlue at 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.Image: Instagram / @flume