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Fluke: '80s Dance & Modern Remixes

Interview | Band By Nigel Humberstone
Published October 1994

Fluke got their first low‑key press attention in the late '80s for their innovative dance‑based sound and intelligent, musicianly approach. Now they're gaining a higher profile for their varied remix work. Nigel Humberstone talks to the trio.

Amidst the current abundance of dance remixers, it's refreshing to discover that not one of the trio working under the moniker 'Fluke', have ever been or aspired to be a DJ, and instead are musicians with a background steeped in electronic music. Fluke are Mike Bryant, Jon Fugler and Mike Tournier — a likeable threesome who, through their solid and sympathetic productions, have prospered and developed within the remix market, whilst also releasing three albums and numerous singles in their own right.

One of the trio's most recent projects has been a remix of 'How How', a track from Yello's forthcoming new album. How did they make the initial contacts to get this kind of work?

Fugler: "It's been a slow building process over the years."

But which track really got the ball rolling?

Tournier: "Our early attempt at remixing, and the one that probably got us the most interest, was doing 'Jonny Panic and the Bible of Dreams', a Tears for Fears B‑side which was then released under a fake name of 'Panic' and from which we got quite a lot of offers of work.

"More recently, our remix of Bjork's 'Big Time Sensuality' created a lot of interest and led to stuff like Frankie Goes To Hollywood ('Two Tribes') and New Order ('Spooky')."

Since Fluke do not have 'one foot in the clubs', like so many of today's DJs, how do they assess whether a track will work in that environment? Fugler: "It's very much pot luck. You know, you get a song and have maybe three or four days to work it and you just get results at the end of it."

Would it be fair to say that Fluke are not approached in order to give a track a 'flavour of the month' remix? Fugler: "Well, no. I think that one reason we're approached is because we tend to keep the vocals in the songs, and arguably we have our own sound. It's not so much providing a sound that's 'flavour of the month'; it's being 'flavour of the month' to do something. It all boils down to how much clout you have at any one time."

Is there any one artist that Fluke would like to do a remix for?

Tournier: "That's a tricky one — we do get an awful lot of remix offers but it would be nice to just hear something and think that we could do something with it. We've semi‑planned the idea of taking a band or act who we really like and making a remix EP — going after it ourselves; that would be a more preferable way of going about it."

"Remixing," ponders Fugler. "It's a funny old game — even if it does give people work." Bryant: "On the down side it stops people having confidence in the original material. I mean, we have ended up turning down things like Marcella Detroit, because it's just the record companies trying to get their records heard in some other form in another market place, and the artist doesn't have any relevance to the dance floor in the first place." Tournier: "We even got asked to do the Pet Shop Boys and there's a lot to be admired about them. But it would have been just such a struggle — we try to choose things we know we can achieve a result with."

Undoubtedly Fluke's forte is retaining an artist's vocal in the remix. Bryant: "It's not an easy job and does require a lot more time. Generally in the remix circles you're given a certain amount of money which usually only allows for three to four days in a studio, so turnarounds are quick. We like to spend more time — with us it's more like one or two weeks." Tournier: "Usually we get a multitrack, which we transfer to our Fostex G24S, and a separate take of the vocals on DAT. It's so difficult working with vocals on a multitrack that we always sample them off, but more recently, instead of time compression and stretching, we've been using the Lexicon to re‑pitch the vocals and then laying that back to tape again at the new tempo."

Fluke are working closely on both their own material and other people's remixes, with the possible result that a lot of ideas get 'cross‑fertilised'. Is it a problem keeping ideas for your own tracks? Fugler: "Funnily enough, it ends up happening the other way round, in as much as you get ideas from a remix." Tournier: "An example of that is where we started on an idea for the Yello remix and didn't use that idea, so all we had to do was go back into the sequence, strip out all the little bits of Yello, and write a new tune around what was left." Bryant: "We also go through a process of remixing ourselves, from the point of view of 'abstracting' an idea that we might have had, and then, over a period of time, working on different versions."

Fluke's process for writing new material is largely studio based but, as Tournier explains, they are looking towards alternative methods.

"We are going to try a bit of an experiment by going the other way, spending maybe a week or so in a rehearsal studio and just writing some stuff there. Basically we'll have a big PA and just whack out some ideas, forgetting about all the little nuances, and concentrate on the basics of putting a tune together. There's a lot to be said for a little bit of room ambience and the 'vibe' factor, which is hard to achieve in the studio." Bryant: "There's always a conflict between a good studio recording environment as opposed to a good listening environment. So we're continually struggling in a studio environment."

Having decided to work at leisure in your own studio, isn't it difficult to decide when a track is finished? Do you have to impose your own time limits and deadlines?

Fugler: "There's a new time limit that comes into effect — you have deadlines for cutting and mastering tracks." Bryant: "We have actually been in a situation where we'd finished a mix in the early hours and the cut was later that day." Fugler: "It's a nightmare — there's never enough time, and that's also part and parcel of the idea of doing loads of remixes, in that it's very difficult to know when to say 'stop'!"


Having chosen to control the means of production, Fluke have invested their recording advances and proceeds from remixes into building up a fully‑equipped studio. How did they go about choosing the equipment?

Fugler: "Well, this has been built up over the years." Bryant: "It all started off as a Portastudio on a shelf in my living room. We used to have an old Brennell 1‑inch 8‑track, then a Fostex 8‑track with a Seck 18:8:2 desk. That system ended up having to be expanded with a Tascam mini mixer, which was all part of the gradual building process. Then, when we signed to Creation Records around four years ago, that deal bought us the Quartz desk. At the time we bought the 48‑channel frame with just 32 channels in it and fitted the others at a later date. It was a big move up from a Seck, and at the time was 'IT' as far as we were concerned. Now we're awaiting the new Jade console, which has better EQ and more auxilaries, plus compression and gating on every channel — so I'm looking forward to all the added luxuries. The interesting thing with the Jade is that you can set up another channel as a side chain and use the EQ to act as a de‑esser, plus there's a lot of possibilities with auto‑panning and tremelo by cueing off another channel."

What was the thinking behind setting up your own studio?

Fugler: "We wanted everything neat, working and where we knew where everything was. So it all ends up being plumbed in here (by way of a custom wiring loom), which can be a bit of a pain when other people come in and start unplugging things. But for us, it's all there and it works.

"To a certain extent we've always had our own facility to make music and went into recording with a Portastudio very early on, so once you've started that way it's very difficult to get out of. We also went off the idea of using big commercial studios at a very early stage."

Why was that?

"Because we never ever got the right results. Either through the people we were working with or whatever — it just wasn't happening." Bryant: "We must have gone through about four different studio setups before we got to this building. It's all been very much DIY and learn as you go along. This is the first time that we've had a room purpose built."

Fluke's studio is part of a larger building in North West London, which was originally just a gutted shell. The control room, an 'off‑the‑shelf' design, has been built within an area on the ground floor. A small vocal booth, ample storage space and a spiral staircase leading up to an airy open‑planned office area, which doubles as a rest room, have been added. Recording Architecture designed and supplied the studio along with the Black Box wideband absorption and acoustic treatment.

Tournier: "We started with a modest budget and basically had the design built up to a certain level. The next stage was all the stuff like flush walls for the main monitors, and rendering, which we've just completed. There's only a few things we haven't got that were in the original plans and those are air conditioning, low‑voltage lighting, a tape op and secretary!"


Phase two of the work on Fluke's new studio has involved them all mucking in to build a new flush wall, in which their ATC SCM100 main monitors have been mounted. This has greatly enhanced the speakers' performance, as Bryant, the group's appointed engineer, explains.

"When we bought the ATCs, we were naive enough to think that we could just set them up in this room and 'go'. But it wasn't that simple, and we weren't getting any results. As a consequence we bought the Dynaudio M1's for nearfield use — they were recommended and we were relieved that they sounded good because it's always a gamble buying speakers. I do like mixing with them, especially for doing a balance, and they're also bloody loud; in fact the amp (an Omniphonics S100) would give up before they do. So they're good for working at loud levels for long periods of time and are pretty strong considering that one fell off its stand!

"Having said that, the ATCs are sounding better now that they're flush mounted, and are good for reference. I've just set them up very roughly with our spectrum analyser and there's a huge improvement from having them free‑standing in the room."


A characteristic element in a great deal of Fluke's work (both their own and remixes) is the use of modulating and moving sounds.

Tournier: "Static sounds are not particularly interesting, so sounds with movement in them are definitely a favourite. They come from various sources — it might be an obscure sample that's looped in a way that creates movement, or maybe you've got samples that are running backwards and forwards to create more random effects." Bryant: "Another favourite is our old analogue foot pedal phaser. Digital devices can't touch it for what it does." Tournier: "We've got quite a lot of analogue gear, but what we'd like to get is some rackmounted modules — things like the TX7 which were overlooked and left behind when all the flash Roland synths came out.

"The Sequential Pro 1 is a really good monosynth. There are a lot of monosynths around, but this one's got a huge range with very good quality oscillators and it's as cross‑patchable as you need. Something like the Korg Mono/Poly has actually got more flexibility but hasn't the same build quality. The Pro 1 has got good bottom end with a searing top end. You can also connect it to something like the M1 and have the joystick controlling maybe the filter cutoff. So you've got that pitch bend/filter cutoff type modulation ability to play some really quite expressive parts."

Fluke are what you might refer to as 'gearaholics' and openly confess that a new box means a new song. Their Emu Morpheus is a classic example. Tournier: "The great thing about the Morpheus is that it's such a good synth, as opposed to these other modern synths that produce flash sounds but are hard to actually synthesize on. The Morpheus is so cross‑imageable, it's the sort of thing you can find yourself just thinking about without actually working on." Another overlooked piece of gear for Tournier is the Yamaha DX7, which he actually programs!

"That old FM synthesis is great when you get back into it. An interesting aspect of the DX7 is that it will transmit system exclusive dumps of all the parameters when you edit them. That means that anything you do within the edit window can be recorded as part of a sequence, allowing you to get real‑time movement, by maybe sweeping the oscillators, to any sounds just by recording (via MIDI) the edit information."

We have ended up turning down things like Marcella Detroit, because it's just the record companies trying to get their records heard in another market place, and the artist doesn't have any relevance to the dance floor in the first place.

Fluke Live

As a band, Fluke have recently branched out and performed live. The process has necessitated the evaluation of various means of sequencing, including a pair of Alesis Datadisk MIDI recorders, one of which is used to play back sequenced backing tracks while another is being loaded up. But as a change from sequencing, an ADAT has been brought in; the machine is also used in the studio, where it is sync'd up with the Fostex's built‑in synchroniser for an extra eight tracks when needed. Tournier: "We started off using just sequencing live, but unless you're interacting with the sequencers, you might as well commit the parts to tape. This time round it was largely what we could manage to play and then the rest was on ADAT. Hopefully the next stage would be running a minimum off the ADAT and including some live sequencing. We're even considering using a couple of (Alesis) MMT8s, which have been around for years; we even used to have two until we got Cubase. They would then allow us more control with the muting of tracks." Bryant: "The ADAT has been incredibly reliable. It's gone through the most horrendous extremes of humidity and condensation and has been no problem."

In a live situation, the ADAT's outputs are sent through the band's 32‑channel Soundcraft Delta, purchased especially for live work and fitted with eight stereo channels, 16 standard channels for sampler and keyboard outputs, and eight deluxe channels for mics and anything which requires special EQ. The whole performance is then mixed on stage, with a stereo feed being sent to FOH.

Complete Fluke: Discography


  • Talk Talk: 'Life's What You Make It'
  • Panic: 'Jonny Panic and the Bible of Dreams'
  • The Impossibles: 'Delphis'
  • World of Twist: 'She's a Rainbow'
  • EBH: 'Chocolate Coated Money'
  • JC001: 'Never Again'
  • Opic: 'Eastern'
  • Sensation: 'Beautiful Morning'
  • Bjork: 'Big Time Sensuality'/'Violently Happy'
  • Horse: 'Celebrate'
  • New Order: 'Spooky'
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood: 'Two Tribes'
  • Pop Will Eat Itself: 'R.S.V.P'
  • Yello: 'How How'


  • 'Thumper' (White label)
  • 'Joni' (White label)
  • 'Lucky Monkeys' (Lafayette)
  • 'Philly' (Creation)
  • 'Electric Guitar' (Circa double pack)
  • 'Groovy Feeling' (Circa)
  • 'The Bells' (Circa Promo)
  • 'Slid' (Circa)
  • 'Bubble' (Circa)


  • Techno Rose of Blighty (Creation)
  • Out (Circa)
  • Six Wheels On My Wagon (Circa)

Equipment List


  • Alesis ADAT digital 8‑trac
  • Apple 17‑inch colour monitor
  • Apple Mac Quadra 650 (4/160)
  • Fostex G24S 1‑inch multitrack (with 8330 sync card)
  • MOTU MIDI Time Piece
  • MOTU Unisyn Librarian
  • Soundcraft Delta 32 console (for live use)
  • Soundtracs Quartz 48‑channel console with Trackmix (currently being upgraded to a Soundtracs Jade)
  • Steinberg Cubase Software (V2.5)


  • Emu Morpheus
  • Emu Proteus 1XR
  • Roland GR50 guitar synth module
  • Roland MKS50
  • Roland PG100 programmer
  • Roland R8M
  • Roland SPD8
  • Yamaha TX81Z


  • Akai S1100 (32Mb)
  • Akai S1100EX (8Mb)
  • Sony Magneto‑optical Drive (650Mb)


  • Korg M1
  • Roland D50
  • Sequential Circuits Pro 1
  • Yamaha DX7ll


  • Alesis Datadisk (x2)
  • Alesis Quadraverb Plus (x2)
  • ART Multiverb
  • ATC SCM100A monitors
  • Behringer enhancer
  • Bel BD80S delay
  • Boss RPS10 pitch‑shift/delay
  • BSS DPR 402
  • BSS DPR 502
  • Digitech Vocalist
  • Drawmer DS201 noise gate (x2)
  • Dynaudio M1 nearfield monitors
  • EMS 2000 Vocoder
  • Klark Technik DN60 Spectrum Analyser
  • Lexicon 300 digital effects processor
  • Lexicon LXP1 reverb
  • Nakamichi Cassette Deck
  • Omniphonics S100 Power Amp
  • Philip Rees V10 MIDI Thru
  • Rebis RA402 EQ
  • Roland CR8000 drum machine
  • Roland RSP550 multi‑effects
  • Sony DAT Walkman
  • Sony DTC100 Pro DAT machine
  • SPL Classic Vitalizer
  • Tantek Rack FX
  • Tascam DA30 DAT
  • Technics Record Decks (x2)
  • Urei 1176N
  • XRI XR4000 Synchroniser
  • Zoom 9002 Guitar effects


  • Neumann U87
  • Senheiser MU421 (x2)
  • Beyer DT100
  • AKG D240 (x2) & D3800
  • Shure SM58

Foot Pedals

Like a growing number of artists, Fluke have discovered the wonders of incorporating guitar foot pedals in their sound. Bryant: "Gadgets — we love them. I just like the idea of mixing low‑fi sounds with modern sounds." Tournier: "It's always the case that the less knobs on them, the better they sound. There's no doubt that with an analogue pedal it 'phases', whilst things like the Quadraverbs are very 'meek' and you need to turn the parameters up full in order to get something happening."