The Okayplayer Interview: Flying Lotus Talks Quiet & Peace
Since 2006, Flying Lotus has indulged his experimental muse, doing more or less whatever he wants, to almost universal acclaim. To that point, listening to his 2010 masterpiece, Cosmogramma, was an exercise in patience. It twisted the listener’s temperament through unrecognizable contortions and you could almost see Lotus flashing a menacing smile as you explored the depths of its mutilated abundance. There was some soul in there, a touch of jazz, and a whole lot of noise. Yet there was something magnetic about it — it wasn’t always the easiest listen, but kept you going back for more.
With his forthcoming album Until the Quiet Comes, the Los Angeles producer takes the opposite approach, opting for a more streamlined sound — with results just as magical as his previous work. Yet unlike Cosmogramma, UTQC achieves more commercial appeal with the inclusion of a few uptempo, club-ready jams. A few weeks shy of it’s release (Until the Quiet Comes is out Oct. 2 on Warp–pre-order on iTunes here) Okayplayer spoke with Lotus about the spirit of Quiet, the shortcomings of popular music and performing while black, among other topics.
OKP: In producing the new album, did you go into the studio thinking you were going to compile a nocturnal record?
Flying Lotus: It just kinda happened, you know. The thing with the album is that, the shit always reveals itself to me. Then I kinda say, ‘Oh, right, this is where we’re going.’ I think I always say it’s gonna be one way, then it turns out totally different than what I expected. The nocturnal side of it is interesting because I spent a lot of time working on it during the day. I just knew I didn’t wanna say the same thing twice, or attempt to. I didn’t wanna try to go in and make Cosmogramma 2 or whatever. I felt like that was its own statement and I wanted it to exist on its own.
OKP: What would you say are the major similarities and differences between that album and this one?
FL: Many of the similarities come from the musicians who are involved. You might hear some similar sounds in that way, but I feel like it’s different because of the pulse and the influence, which came from different genres and a different feeling as well. I was dealing with loss on that last album, and it came from a very vulnerable place. After having seen the things that I’ve seen, and having said a lot of the things I’ve said, I wanted to do something that was just very intimate — not so broad. I think Cosmogramma was about the universe in a way, but I feel this one is more about me.
OKP: Did you feel a lot more comfortable when crafting this album?
FL: I don’t know if comfortable is the right word because I don’t think I ever feel that way. [Laughs] I’m always questioning myself and second-guessing myself on a daily basis. I go through the range of emotions, from ‘You know, I’m not that bad’ to ‘Hey man, I’m fuckin’ dope!’ to ‘Aw man, I got so much fuckin’ work to do, I fuckin’ suck.’ I do that in like two hours [Laughs]. So as far as being comfortable, I feel like, with this, I didn’t want it to be so crazy. In 40 minutes, I wanted to make a very tight story-line and make it feel like it was all part of the same breath.
OKP: What would you say is the story-line then?
FL: Oh man! See, I feel weird about telling you because half the fun is that people make their stories for it. To me, I feel there’s a general plot, from a real filmmaker perspective. It’s an adventure story, I’d say, sometimes it’s very funny and silly, and then sometimes it’s very meaningful. It’s kinda like that “Choose your own Adventure” book, but there’s definitely an adventure to it.
OKP: More than other artists in your genre, it seems you have this uncanny ability to craft straightforward instrumentals for artists like Muhsinah and José James, then turn around and craft this spacey EDM for a diverse crowd. Is that by design?