Are you able to do more with Thundercat because you live close to each other?
We don't live super close-by and we don’t have lots of time to work now that he's getting all famous with his music. [Laughs]. But we always find the time to work together and even if we don't for a while, he can come through on a Monday after a month of us not seeing each other and we can just get things done. We can get a lot done in a day. I consider him a part of Flying Lotus. He's part of the sound that I’m after. We just have such amazing chemistry in the studio. And on the new album, he plays on 75 percent of it.
Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead) is also on the album, right?
Yeah, and that happens during Miguel's [Atwood Ferguson] first time on the album. There's an acoustic section near the end of the album. The whole way the thing came together was organic. There was no thought really. We were all sitting around listening to this shit and it’s like, "Let’s open up a session and rip with it."
And how about that Thom Yorke collaboration? I heard you didn’t think he’d be on the album.
We have pretty good communication and we talk on e-mail often. But I figured he wouldn't be super enthusiastic about collaborating again because has so much going on and there are a million other people he could be working with. I felt very honored he wanted to work together again and it was very nice to have him back.
What’s most interesting is that he doesn’t even sound like what you'd expect on the album.
That’s funny because a lot of people ask about that and say, "Why don't you make it sound like him because it’s him." But I tell them it’s not about him. It’s my album. All these things are textures to me. I’ll pitch Thom all the way down if it sounds right. And that is why Thom fucks with me because I’m not afraid to fuck with it like that.
He sent me the vocals and trusted me to do what I do. He asked what the track meant to me and what the vibe of the album was. There were two tracks for consideration. I just sent him some of my music to keep him in the loop with what I’m doing and he's like, "Oh shit, I think got something for this."
It’s actually evolved since he heard it. It’s cool to get dry vocals and get inspired to add some things and build some moments and embellishing sections.
What is the vibe and concept of the album?
When I started working on it and making drafts, I was really into the idea of doing a children's record. Well, I really wanted to make a record that had this innocence to it. And it’s not about being naive but being able to harness the feeling of hearing things for the first time. I was really into meditation and mystical states and all that shit, which really, really inspired me.
I imagined seeing a whole world you can’t have imagined before and being completely innocent. Those are the kind of images I see. It’s of a young character, but not a kid, just like the youthful parts of yourself coming alive for the first time.
Do you have a favorite track from the album?
I always go through different phases with the tracks. At the moment, I really like "Only If You Wanna" on there. Stereolab was a big influence on that and it was really cool to add something to that conversation. It feels good to be able to throw one back to the universe.
So were they a big influence throughout the project?
I live in L.A. and it’s always sunny here. The vibe is real Stereolab. So yeah, they’re definitely a big influence. The thing about making records for me is I try to pull from something that might have passed. The whole "old is new again" idea.
The last record was more jazz for me and falling in love with my family's timeline of music again. This was getting back into psychedelic rock music, prog-rock, and jazz, too. I listened to a lot of Gentle Giant, Broadcast, Stereolab, all those weird drum machine rock songs. For those that don’t know, Gentle Giant is like half psych, half jazz, then pieces of renaissance fair shit in there.
Getting back to your recent collaborations, what can you tell us about this Captain Murphy character?
He’s a young dude from L.A. He's really really shy. I met him through hanging out in the scene and shit. He's a young dude not giving a fuck about being famous and shit. He didn't even want to release the music he'd been passing to me and just did the shit for fun but I convinced the dude to start pushing himself and getting the music out.
Word. Well, what’s interesting about that track you did with him and Earl is how it wasn’t just like a huge track with crazy features. It sounded like a real collaboration.
I feel like people weren't going to like the Earl Sweatshirt track because it’s older. I made that beat like five years ago. But I’m super into collaborating. I’m having so much fun working with other artists. I think it’s a fucking awesome time right now. There’s lots of cool stuff. I’m just trying to stay busy doing my shit and if I can work with other people and find a cool thread between our worlds it's, "Hell yeah."
I know those dudes are real particular about how they want their stuff to come out and all that. We did this thing and I hadn't heard from Earl in a while and didn't know if he fucked with it, but it happened and worked out really well.
What made you want to start working with rappers again?
Phases, man. New people. It's so inspiring hearing all these new sounds and seeing all these new people pop up from around the world who are really dope. There are these people who were in the crowd when I started and now they're on stage.
Years ago you only had guys like Kanye and Jay-Z and it was like, "What could they possibly tell me?" And, "How can we relate anymore?" That’s not inspiring to me. But now it feels right again.
It’s like all trap music now, too. I was in Switzerland and there were dudes making trap. All of a sudden the world recognizes Dirty South music. I have some shit that sounds like that, too, but I've personally been like, "Nah." It’s just because, again, I feel like I’m in a peculiar situation. I always feel like I’m staying true to what I set out to do. It’s not just being like the trendy guy.
Who are you listening to in particular that's inspired you?
Jeremiah Jae. I've been familiar with his music for some time now and he moved from Chicago to L.A. and having him here has been motivating and inspiring. Whenever I think about not doing anything, we meet up and he’s working on like a million things. His presence is motivating.
And obviously Odd Future, those are my peoples, and all the A$AP kids. I like the Raider Klan. I fuck with all that shit, man. I wanna do some shit with SpaceGhostPurrp. I actually sent him some shit. We're buddies on the fucking Skype. I’m trying to get some stuff done with him.