Flying Lotus - In Full Bloom
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Flying Lotus is producer Steve Ellison, nephew of Alice Coltrane and 'discovered' by Adult Swim. But this interview isn't about any of that.
Catching Flylo doing some emails, smoking some herb and listening to music is probably a typical example of what you'd expect from someone who makes twisted hip hop-influenced beats, but Ellison is quite enigmatic. On one hand you have the dark, scary, impacting elements of his musical output plus his family's musical legacy conjuring ideas of the grumpy recluse, but on the other hand you have the cartoon loving, chit-chatty colourful character that he appears in interviews.
Having just come off the road from both shows in Europe and around the States with RZA on his Bobby Digisnax tour, Flylo breaks down his album Los Angeles, which has just been released on Warp.
'When it comes to making an album it's important for me to tell the story,' he says, making some delineation between Los Angeles and the Reset EP. 'That could be with vocals or it could be without vocals. I felt it was an opportunity to tell the story of LA that I perceive, which is this kinda science fiction, love-hate story.'
Whereas Reset featured the incredible Tea Leaf Dancers tune with Andreya Triana and some superbly upfront club material, Los Angeles dashes between schizophrenic afterthoughts and creepy, sprawling soundscapes; a detailed collage of sounds and scenes. It's no wonder that Flylo applies his experience making films to making beats.
'I'm not really a fan of most rap stuff right now,' he says. 'The singers are coming out with some layers on the songs,' he says, referring to the album's three vocal tunes, continuing that the cracks and pops can create for the listener something completely different.
'I like the idea of a cinematic auditory experience. I like the idea that I can take someone on a ride visually without words, where the listener paints their own picture. I can get inside someone's head and take 'em some place, even if they are on the dancefloor, it could be the dancefloor of another planet.'
The cover of Los Angeles is reminiscent of a bizarre twisted beast, part scarab beetle, part Los Angeles highway, and accurately conveys both the sexiness of the sound and the menace of it.
'That's the whole point!' he says. 'We thought of this whole traffic car crash idea of LA, that was the idea behind the artwork.'
Similar to the Bristol trio, Flylo's music has that same kind of erotic vibe that evokes a whole heap of dirty thoughts, so was it by fluke or is that yet another layer we can peel back from Steve Ellison's persona- For someone who is painted in a very geeky light, with the samplers and the videogames, he makes music like he gets more ass than a sofa.
'That's a big part of me. I like ladies, too. I got plenty of time for them, don't get it twisted. I am on some geeky shit but I am a fan of ladies,' he says. 'I consider myself to be- one of the freaks.'
He pauses before continuing, with a bit of steam. 'Most producers are kinky, we're kinky motherfuckers, especially on the beat shit,' he says. 'It's so sexy. When you've moving with it, it's like you're fucking the beat, you're making love to it, you're grooving with it.'
WHO: Flying Lotus
WHAT: Los Angeles EP through Warp/Inertia
WHEN: Out now