As a performer, Flying Lotus knows how to get a crowd going. He’s constantly bobbing his head to his electrifying beats and swinging his arms as he uses his mixer in between hits from a joint thrown to him by an audience member. Flying Lotus is a large presence on stage.
Once the lights dim and he’s stepped off stage, Flying Lotus becomes Steven Ellison. His all black attire accentuates his mysterious persona, however upon sitting down with him, it is evident that he is a genuine guy that simply loves producing music. Steven Ellison is a pensive man with a bright smile and an even brighter future.
Steven, aka Flying Lotus, will release his fourth album, entitled Until the Quiet Comes, on October 2nd. In preparation for his album release, Flying Lotus teamed up with Khalil Johnson to produce a short film, and spoke with me about the making of the short film, future work with Erykah Badu, and what may surprise fans about Until the Quiet Comes.
You dropped a short film today, until the quiet comes, a little preview of that, had 3 of your songs on there. Can you break it down for me a bit?
When it came to that film, I put a lot of trust in the filmmaker, Khalil Joseph. He’s, I think he’s a genius, I was just like look, whatever he wants, you just have to do it, you just have to trust the man. Khalil wanted to shoot in Nickerson Garden because of the kind of stuff you get there. It’s gold. You don’t have to dress anything. The magic happens on the set with him.
What’s the significance of the J.Dilla shirt?
As far as the J.Dill t-shirt, it was one of those questions like, what are we gunna put him in? what is he gunna wear? I thought it was cool to rep Dilla. It was funny because we almost didn’t have the shirt. It was like nah that might be too much, or just too close, so maybe not. But in the end, it made it, and I’m glad it did because I thought the kind of poetic vibe of the video, and that t-shirt, it had elements of me, lots of different things and ideas that I’m into, without it being blatant and obvious. There was a lot of subtlety and strength in his work.
You tweeted that the helicopter and ambulance we just there, was that really a coincidence?
Yeah, right where we were shooting there was some shit that happened like right when that car made that left. There’s some shit that happened right there when we were shooting stuff. All that stuff was really natural and part of the atmosphere, and I’m sure that’s probably why khalil wanted to shoot in Nickerson garden because of the kind of stuff you get there. It’s gold. You don’t have to dress anything
How did you choose the three songs that were gunna be on there?
I didn’t, that was khalil’s thing. He had the album, I told him he could do whatever he wanted.
Questlove hit you on twitter saying the short film was “nothing short of amazing”. What’s it like getting feedback like that?
It’s great. With him, I specifically reached out was like “look, man, you gotta to see this thing. I know it’ll be up your alley”. You know, there’s some people that might not get it, but I was like “quest will fuck with this thing”. I’m just so glad that people responded the way that they hoped they would to it, and didn’t try to see it as anyone trying to glorify a situation like that, you know, Where there’s violence in the hood with kids and gang bangin’ and shit.. It didn’t feel like we glorified it at all. I felt like it was a surreal, but very real, kind of feeling and sentiment that was left at the end.
So you dropped this short film as sort of a preview of your album, Until The Quiet Comes, which drops at the beginning of October. What’s gunna surprise us about this album?
It’s going to surprise people because I think that some people had this idea that with my last album, because it was such a big bold statement, that I’d be trying to make a huge, uber humongous record, but instead I was like imma pull back and do something more minimal and a little bit more meticulous in that way but not so in your face with everything. So, I think it might surprise people that it’s actually quieter than the last thing that they heard.
The first single you dropped was with Ms. Badu, rumor has it that you’re going to be producing an entire album for her in the future. Is that true?
Well, at the time we recorded that song, that was actually supposed to be for that project. We haven’’t really talked about working much lately. So, I don’t know. I’m still down to do it if she is, but I don’t know where she’s at with stuff. I think she’s kind of like, in her own universe of traveling and making things on her own.
You had commented that the song you’re doing with Beck had been on your computer for a couple of years. What’s your process like for giving people songs?
It’s weird because there’s a lot of songs like that where there’s these collaborations that happen, or there’s these tracks that just don’t get finished and get left on my computer because I’m excited about something else. It’s really difficult when there’s not really a specific home for it. When I was making the album, I was like, the beck song aint gunna work on the album, so I’m not gunna think about it and I’m gunna worry about the songs that are on the record. I don’t really have a home for it yet, so it’s not my priority. It’s a good song, but I just don’t know where it’ll fit in the musical universe. Maybe I’ll put out another EP or something next year, that could work, we’ll see.
You’re touching on a whole lot of genres. You’re working with Beck, Erykah Badu, Schoolboy Q, and some of Odd Future. Why do you find it important to work with so many different genres.
I think it’s just what I’m into. It’s not necessarily something I feel is important, it’s just exciting for me because I like Beck, I like Odd Future. It’s not necessarily because they have names or anything, it’s just because I’m a fat. I get to work with people who I admire. That’s one of the blessings that comes with having done this for a while. You kinda get on people’s radar that you admire.
Do you have a favorite genre?
No… probably rap though. I mean, I grew up with it, that’s when I fell in love with music. I mean in ’93 I was listening to Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. I think I fell in love with rap. So that’s where I’m from. I love everything. I was probably listening to Stravinsky then too.
If we were to get a hold of your computer, iTunes, what would surprise us?
Maybe the classical stuff. Maybe some of the death metal. You’d be like “whaaat” you have death metal on there?