Flying Lotus and his Buddy. Photo by Kevin Amato.
The October issue of DAZED featured a long Q&A I conducted with the 28-year-old beats maestro Flying Lotus at the Silverlake home of his manager back in late July. Flying Lotus, or Steven Ellison as he is also known, is a very impressive young man. Possessing a hyper-intelligent, restlessly creative temperament, Fly Lo works from a broad, culturally clued-in sonic palette that makes his music seem so exotic and boundaryless. I’d gotten an advance of his upcoming Until the Quiet Comes from Warp Records and had listened to it twice that morning (and flipped over it, I should add) and I was especially interested in finding out about his creative process.
Another thing that I found fascinating about Ellison was how good of a friend he seems to his own friends. I only met him once, for about an hour, but it was very apparent to me that he had a strong paternal/fraternal bond with a tight group of talented young Los Angeles-based musicians and he was set on seeing them succeed like he has and of pulling them onboard the same career train he’s on, via his Brainfeeder label. Ellison is a serious guy, an extremely rare mixture of a creative musical mind and a good businessman/marketeer, but it’s also obvious that he’s someone with morals who was raised properly. He’s a deep dude and I think that comes across in the interview.
From the article, online at DAZED Digital:
Until the Quiet Comes sounds even more powerfully psychedelic than its genre-hopping, category-resistant predecessor. Its sound stretches and redefines what can be done with electronic beat music, taking the listener on a moody, idiosyncratic journey best served by a late-night spin with the listener strapped in, well and truly stoned to the gills. The first single from the album, already out, sees eccentric earth mother Erykah Badu lend her voice to the tripped out, amorphous “See Thru to U”.
Possessing preternatural rockstar cool, even within the whirlwind of activity – stylists, photographers, videographers, journalists, managers – bustling around him, Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus is a man with a mission. As it’s one of the hottest days of the summer, today that mission is making some iced sangria. (“Everybody has that one thing they’re really good at making,” he says. “I’m good at making sangria.”) His super-chill chihuahua, Buddy (“he jumped in my car one day and just stayed”), is always by his side.
Tell me about Until the Quiet Comes.
There’s a lot to say about it, but at the same time I feel like this shit speaks for itself, you know? It took me some time to put it together, mostly because I was looking to put out something I was really sure about instead of putting records out just because I’m making music. I wanted to make something that was really reflective of my life, kind of like a diary of where it took me, and I wanted to put those things forward. So yeah, here we are. (laughs)
The album is very different to previous ones. Is that a conscious thing because of how widely imitated your sound has been?
Yeah, but I had to set some new goals and challenges for making music anyway. I had enough time to sit with the old album and think, ‘Oh well, next time, I should do it like this.’ There are a lot of reasons why I wanted to change. I wanted to make sure I don’t say the same things twice. Even where I’m at now from making that record is different.
How do you compose? What’s your creative process like?
I like to gather a bunch of sounds, just random things, whether it be from vinyl or something off the Internet, or just shaking things around or playing keyboards and recording it. Then I have this huge cache of material to work with and build from. And that’s what usually becomes the tracks. I feel like it’s a good thing for me to separate the two (compiling sounds vs composing with them). Sunday is a good day to just record things, to take things and experiment to find things that are reflective of what’s happening or what I’m feeling, and then I apply those things on another day when I have the spark to put something together.
In the last few years, you’ve been able to travel the world in style. How has it influenced your music?
It affects me in a really big way, actually, because I’m a homebody. When I’m in LA I’m pretty much at home working all the time. So when I get to travel, I go to venues and festivals and hear things that I’ve been missing because I’ve been in my cave. I’ll get to check out all these things that I’ve been hearing about, all the cutting edge shit, because I’m out there. I bring that back to the studio. Influence, motivation and inspiration. I can bring that back and it’s really helpful.
Read the entire thing at DAZED Digital