Music producer Flying Lotus talks new album, Coltrane family and video games
Music producer Flying Lotus is a man whose work knows no bounds. From providing his spacey sound as the background to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim to his more contemporary work with Erykah Badu and rapper Killer Mike, ‘Fly Lo’ is beyond versatile. In honor of his fourth album, Until The Quiet Comes, dropping today, we sat down with the multi-instrumentalist to talk about his famous jazz family, video game soundtracks, and paying attention to his craft.
What was it like growing up in a family that was known for its musical contributions?
I think that I grew up in a situation that was a little different. I grew up with music being a very spiritual experience for the people. I was a witness to that kind of life where music was your God in a way. I think there was a point of relation that is really inspiring to me. When I first started coming up, it never felt like I was chasing after anything that was really out of reach, but at the same time, I never really cared about pursuing it for a long time because it was just fun for me. I didn’t really think about the result of it like, ‘Oh I want to be on stage.’ I never wanted to be out in the mix; I just enjoyed the process of doing. I never really thought anything could happen with it until I started … when I was 15 I started producing, but when I was in college was when I really started taking it seriously. I started putting music out on MySpace and started showing interest and then I really started believing in myself around then. I really started thinking that well you know maybe there is something here.
Being that you are a part of the Coltrane family, do you ever feel like there’s ever a need to carry on the family legacy?
I don’t think of that. I don’t think of it in that sense, I think of it like, I’d love to hope they like it. I don’t think of it like ‘Oh my God my family name is at stake here.’ We’re all doing our own thing. It should be told my last name isn’t Coltrane, so I don’t have the weight of it on my shoulders, they might. I see it as an example of a way of life, a way things could be if you put your heart and soul in your music and make it more than just the results of the work. You really try to understand in life that we get music.
Some artists are in the business to solely profit and to not contribute to the culture. Do you acquire your motivation to create more music strictly through the passion of the craft or through the money?
I think it depends on the person. A lot of people who I meet who are really inspired by music and they really want to do music but they are hung up on like; ‘Oh man everyone’s already so dope, I don’t want to be wack when I start.’ No one wants to go through that. They’re people that think about the ugly stage before they even have the fun of creating your own world. There is something that is so comforting to me; even knowing that no one was listening, no one cared; there was something comforting knowing that I was building something of my own without there being any pressure on it. There was no worries; I didn’t think about who was going to listen to my music, I wasn’t pressured at all. It was just fun, a fun thing to do. I can understand where they come from, but it depends on everybody, because there is that genuine inspiration or spark that happens without coming from a place of ego where you are just in love with the process.
You seem to be someone who really takes their craft very seriously and when you describe it growing as a type of God or religion for you growing up. Are you ever surprised when fans approach you and describe how your music relates to them?
Well I really don’t want to push my beliefs on anybody. I don’t try to do that. I know that the music speaks for itself and I think the people who relate to it have their own experiences with it. Some people tell me ‘Oh man I was using that when I was f**king my b*tch” or ‘I was using that when I was going through a tough time.’ I get the range of it.
Some people have music that they drive to, something to zone out to when studying, music that you work out to. What’s the best way for someone to experience [your album] Until The Quiet Comes?
I think the best way to experience it is with a Cognac around midnight. Listen to it maybe in headphones or when you play it on a new Mac sound system. I feel like it could be used for the start of a morning but I do feel like it’s a nocturnal album, like it’s a night time thing.
You’ve worked with Badu on previous projects: I want to know what was different collaborating with her on your current album in comparison to the other ones in the past when you guys were teamed up.
I think this time around when we worked we didn’t think about it as working on my album, we were thinking about working on her album. We didn’t make that much stuff; in the end it was just like one song and a couple other demos. It was like ‘You know this is probably all we’re going to do for a while, so maybe I should just put this out on my album then get people that side for when we do something together.’