It is never too late to learn. And in the days prior to my Nanâ€™s passing, her musical education came courtesy of Flying Lotus‘ indie label Brainfeeder artist, Thundercat and his etheral Golden Age of Apocalypse. Nan was always ‘interested in what appeared interesting’, and the aforementioned album required a comprehensive listening session, in between the periodic wetting of her pursed lips with water. Nan was eighty-one years young. And she was fresh. She liked the album â€” it was also fresh. She also liked the water.
Love; community; context: itâ€™s been three years since the release of Steven Ellison’s aka Flying Lotus’ Youâ€™re Dead, and nine years since 1983 debutÂ album release. In which time, FlyLo’s, has since become a synonym for transcendental mediation.
Letting the work do the talking, FlyLo has seamlessly transitioned from project to project, maintaining consistent status as king of the mutational avant-garde. From label founder, core production, to creative direction and accompanying media intrigue, his fully-fledged artistic packages bear the hallmarks of unbridled productivity and ego free collaboration.
Flying Lotus’ work is also known for its cinematic visuals, so it comes as no surprise that the experimental beat maker’sÂ most recent project is a feature film: KUSO. Flexing his creative muscle, Flying Lotus sets about telling a tale of a pyschedelic horrowshow set in L.A. â€” a tale recently premiered at Sundance.
LBBâ€™s Radd Nadesananthan caught up with Brainfeeder founder ahead of his set at Londonâ€™s Field Day Festival. We picked FlyLoâ€™s brain on what he thinks of the London electronic scene, grime, Brainfeeder and his great-grand aunty, Alice Coltrane. Interview photography by creative supremo, Timothy Saccenti.
Q) Flying Lotus welcome to London, what are your perceptions of the UK’s capital?
Beans and sausages. Fish and chips. Black cabs. Freddie Mercury. [laughs] Iâ€™m just kidding dude.
Q) Being from the States, what are your thoughts on the UK electronic scene as a whole? Is there an argument to suggest any one nation is leading from the forefront?
I think itâ€™s always ebb and flow. I think the electronic scene in the UK has always been inspiring to me. As far as being a leader or at the forefront and all that, I think yeah, itâ€™s an ebb and flow.
Sometimes yâ€™all got it, sometimes we got it, and sometimes somebody else got it you know.
I think itâ€™s actually time for the UK to have a new sound; itâ€™s about time for yâ€™all come through with some new weirdo shit you know. You all had dubstep and now itâ€™s time for something else. I think the kids are going to come in with some new shit thatâ€™s going to fuck everybody up, thatâ€™s how it goes.
Q) What do you think about grime?
Iâ€™m not versed with grime but I wish I was. I know about Wiley and shit. I always love coming out here and seeing grime change, and up and coming whippersnappers and shit.
I like that because itâ€™s got that raw feel â€“ but it doesnâ€™t make sense at home. Itâ€™s not how LA sounds but when I come here though itâ€™s like yeah, I totally get it.
Q) With the LA sound, you guys have been in the forefront in terms of your jazz scene, combining that with jazz legends like Herbie Hancock. Is that something that youâ€™re proud of?
Absolutely proud of it. Proud as fuck. Because we work hard and itâ€™s like seeing your dreams come to life you know. Itâ€™s an idea that turns into an email that turns into a song that turns into an album â€” you know itâ€™s crazy.
You know, I think my proudest accomplishment with Brainfeeder was Thundercatâ€™s albums and Kamasi Washingtonâ€™s album, which was huge worldwide. And I was so proud to be able to see this man who would play in these great groups but be like the side guy, or heâ€™d be playing these small clubs â€” now heâ€™s playing huge ass shows everywhere. Itâ€™s amazing. He was even able to sign to another label, which was amazing.
Q) Whatâ€™s crazy about Brainfeeder is that youâ€™re releasing all these artists who are blowing up at the moment, youâ€™re almost like a major label in a way. Was it intentional for you to release these guys in such a way?
You know it was never like that, it didnâ€™t seem like that was really the goal; but you know I just wanted to put out the stuff that everybody else wasnâ€™t. That was my original intent- I wanted to put out the stuff that people might have thought was a little too weird, a little too heady or whatever. I wanted to do that because I feel like I have the ear for it. And yeah, it just kind of blossomed- it blossomed with my tastes. We might be hearing some new things this year.
Q) People can put artists into boxes- being an LA beat man, you seem to not have any confines. Was it interesting being a black male in LA and playing ‘weirdo music’- how did you take that?
Still is. Still is. Man my generation coming up â€” Iâ€™m about to reveal my age now. My generation, like we werenâ€™t even allowed to skateboard. It was weird for black kids to buyÂ skateboards and shit, so now I feel like â€˜Oh shit yâ€™all can skateboard? We can do that now?â€™ So itâ€™s weird, it was really strange. Iâ€™m like, one of the only black people I know playing Aphex Twin at shows and shit, you know what Iâ€™m saying? It goes the same for films too you know. Iâ€™ve just been exposed to a lot of stuff â€” itâ€™s not about where it comes from, who makes it, itâ€™s just about if itâ€™s good or whatever.
Q) I want to ask you about your auntie. Whatâ€™s it like being the grandson of Alice Coltrane?
I donâ€™t know the difference you know, itâ€™s hard for me to say. Itâ€™s really special I know that, I know she was a really unique individual and Iâ€™ve never met a person like her to this day. And Iâ€™m really grateful for that. But you know, to me she was just auntie.
Interview foreword by Ansel NecklesÂ //Â Special thanks to Mollie Chandler for the interview transcribing