Food & Drink

Flux Pavilion waves flag for inspired dubstep at Moonrise Festival

Joshua Steele has suffered through plenty of bad dubstep sets.

As the English DJ and producer Flux Pavilion, Steele has helped grow the electronic dance music subgenre's popularity around the world. He's also watched dubstep get watered down by newcomers more interested in the partying and celebrity elements than in further developing a sound.


"Even though I'm a fan of the music, after a couple of bad [sets], I'm like, 'I don't think I like this, '" Steele said on the phone from London recently. "That can and has happened around the world, where people turn off from some of these sounds because they're not actually getting access to people who really, truly believe in it."

That sense of deliverance for the greater EDM good inspired Steele's current outing, the "Around the World in 80 Raves" tour that includes a Saturday set at this weekend's Moonrise Festival. (The two-day event at Pimlico Race Course will also feature performances by Afrojack, Migos, Kaskade and many more.)


For Steele, who is often referred to as Flux, the ambitious touring schedule guarantees his fan base gets a taste of what he considers high-quality dubstep, the drum-and-bass-inspired dance music whose London origins have become overshadowed by its worldwide popularity and influence.

"I don't want those people to miss out, and I don't want them to move on because there's so much great music going on within the scene," Steele said. "You hear people being like, 'Oh yeah, there's nothing good at the moment.' I know if I go there, and I can play them some music that I found, they would change their mind."

Steele's confidence has served him well. His reputation for live performances has taken him to the largest festivals in the world, like Glastonbury and Coachella, and the 28-year-old co-founded the independent EDM label Circus Records — another way his voice is heard in regard to quality control.

The most notable song from Circus' catalog is "I Can't Stop," a track from Flux Pavilion's debut 2010 EP. The stuttering single caught the attention of producer Shama Joseph, who sampled the song on the Kanye West and Jay-Z collaboration "Who Gon Stop Me." The song was not only a standout from the rappers' "Watch the Throne" album, but exemplified the growing shared space between EDM and hip-hop, two forces that continue to dominate mainstream music years later.

Gaining acceptance from West and Jay-Z, described by Steele as "undeniably great minds" in music, reaffirmed his confidence.

"You look at yourself and think, 'I'm not as good as these famous people. I can't be as good as them, because I'm in this room and they're on the TV,' " he said. "That situation made me realize that maybe I am, and maybe anyone is … anyone can achieve great music if they pour their heart and soul into it."

When he's not on tour, Steele is normally found at his London studio. He's building tracks for a long-term project as a follow-up to his full-length album, 2015's "Tesla," and also working on singles and collaborations.

"Dynamite," a new single by production duo Outrun and Flux Pavilion, features Steele's vocals. The dramatic, synthesizer-driven track came together quickly, and reflects the natural process that leads to Steele's best work as of late, he said.

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"The idea was just in them, and they had to get it out," Steele said. "It hasn't been made so they can write something to sell it or to get shows or to be popular. The music is written because that music is in their heads."

That will be the spirit guiding the Flux Pavilion set for Moonrise on Saturday. These days, Steele crafts setlists based on his personal preferences rather than what the audience might want, he said.

"I feel like if I'm going to bomb, then I want to bomb being me," he said.

"If they like it, if they don't — that's not the be-all, end-all. I'm not there to be loved. I'm there to just sort of do my set, and I would hope people enjoy it because I think it's really good."

If you go

Flux Pavilion performs Saturday as a part of the Moonrise Festival at Pimlico Race Course, 5201 Park Heights Ave. The event, which also takes place on Sunday, features performances by Kaskade, Afrojack, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert and many more. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. $109.50-$169.50 per day, $174.50-$299.50 for a two-day pass (prices are scheduled to increase as the event grows closer). For more information, go to