Since debuting in 2006 with 1983, Flying Lotus’ career has grown exponentially. Some would argue that the West Coast producer truly broke through and shed the “post-Dilla” tags two years later with an album dedicated to and named after his hometown of Los Angeles. The record showcased a forward-thinking approach to what many dubbed as the “beat scene,” wherein producers weave heady, bass-driven, and mostly instrumental efforts.
But it was truly his third full-length, 2010’s Cosmogramma, that made everyone stop for a second and reevaluate his music. Here was an album that was free-flowing and clearly dedicated to the groundbreaking jazz crafted by his gifted relatives. In particular, there’s his great aunt, Alice Coltrane, who forged a path for female musicians and just so happened to be married to jazz legend—that term might not even be strong enough—John Coltrane.
Cosmogramma also found FlyLo working with the likes of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and poised-to-blow-up bassist/composer Thundercat. And while FlyLo could have easily rested on his uber-original laurels, he opted to look elsewhere for inspiration on his fourth album. As he explains, he didn’t want to say the same thing twice.
Until The Quiet Comes, which drops Oct. 2, retains the jazzy, beat-heavy influences of his previous work while injecting it with strong doses of psychedelic and progressive rock. There are also plenty of bangers he crafted for the club-going sect, particularly those who show up at his concerts prepared to lose their shit as soon as his mind state-altering sounds fill the air.
At the same time, FlyLo found himself falling back in love with hip-hop thanks to some raucous youngsters. In particular, he cites Odd Future, A$AP Mob, and SpaceGhostPurrp’s Raider Klan as newfound inspiration. It’s no surprise that he’s gone on to record with guys like Hodgy Beats and Earl Sweatshirt, while it appears a collaboration with Purrp is soon-coming.
Find out about all of that and much more in the following interview, which serves as a preview of Until The Quiet Comes, a testament to his artistic vision, and a look into his personal connection to music.
Interview by Andrew Martin (@Andrew_J_Martin)
Complex: What are you working on now while you get ready to push the album?
Flying Lotus: I’ve got my hands in a lot of jars. I'm kind of producing the new Thundercat stuff, kind of producing stuff for Shabazz Palaces and Azizi Gibson. Just little things here and there between records. I’m working on the music for a TV show called Cat Dick for Adult Swim. It's really silly and about a cat detective. It’s all real animals, kind of like an old detective show.
Are you doing any more tracks with Odd Future?
I'm talking with a few other dudes like Domo [Genesis] and I really want to do a track with Tyler. He's a tricky one, man, 'cause he has his hands in a lot of jars and he’s very particular about who he works with and when he works with people. We've been pals for quite some time. He knows I’m here. He knows I’m around.
What about the Weeknd? You guys played an impromptu show together recently.
Yeah, me and the Weeknd have talked a bunch about things. There are some potential ideas he had and I’m all game for it. It might be too soon to say exactly what, but I’d say we will connect on some things.
Any plans to play live again with the Infinity Band?
I’m not sure about the Infinity Band. It's really hard to get all my musicians in one space together. I feel like every time I have a time to do that show, it’s like asking and begging for favors and I hate doing that. Unfortunately, it's gotta be a bigger band than a trio. But I might do it if the situation presented itself.
What can you tell me about the new album?
I know people are looking forward to it. I think it's different than the last thing (Cosmogramma). I feel like there’s more stuff for the club in this one than the last one. But at the same time, I feel like there’s headphone music, so it helps that there’s enough of both.
How did your writing and recording process differ making Until the Quiet Comes compared to Cosmogramma?
I always try to set challenges for myself when it comes to putting records together because I don’t want to say the same things twice. So that's one of the bigger things and obviously I just want to be a better musician. With Cosmogramma, I felt I had to prove myself a little bit more and had to remove myself from the scene a little bit because people would say things about what they thought I did and their perceived idea of what I did. It’s frustrating to be lumped into categories. I felt like I had to make a statement to separate myself.
While Erykah Badu and Thom Yorke are the bigger names that appear on this album, and Yorke was on Cosmogramma as well, one constant since 1983 has been Laura Darlington. What's your connection with her?
Laura is a funny one because she embodies a part of the sound I gravitate toward a lot. It's this innocent sound and she reminds me a lot of my favorite vocalists, like a bit of Beth Gibbons, Trish Keenan, and them. Laura's got her own thing. I am a fan of folk and psychedelic music so I think she really gets that but she also gets the beat thing, too.
Getting back to Badu, is the planned joint album with her actually going to happen?
I’m not sure what’s going to happen anymore because she's so busy, but hopefully we can connect because I'm game for it. To be honest, the only thing that came out of it was the track on my album. We have drafts and sketches of things but I really don't think I can produce and direct an entire album unless we have time to be in the same space for a little while.
We would both have to find the time, and whenever the time comes for her, I’ll drop everything to make it happen. It was funny because I waited a lot and was like, "I'm going to take this track. It’s mine now." [Laughs.]
The drafts and things we did before, we worked together in the same space. It has to be that way and we have to continue that because I just can’t see myself producing her over emails, though I trust she would deliver some awesome shit.
Is that why you haven’t done a lot of full projects for other artists?
I feel like I’m getting to a place where I’m more open to that but a lot of times collaborations sound good on a blog or on paper but it all depends on the chemistry and the magic. Several artists I’ve met and talked to, we want to do an album together and it sounds good to say that. But you know, as much as all rappers and singers have a crazy personality, i have that, too! And it’s all about finding that synergy.