Amid the release of the Netflix anime series Yasuke, Flying Lotus — the man behind the show’s score — highlighted a few albums that influenced the show’s music.
Flying Lotus is one of the most progressive and inspiring beatmakers working. The LA-based producer first introduced people to his music back in 2006 with his debut album 1983. FlyLo has since went on to produce five other solo albums, each one an evolution and expansion on his distinctly experimental and futuristic sound. When he’s not crafting his own solo releases he’s either helping his peers with theirs — as was the case with Thundercat’s Grammy award-winning It Is What It Is; creating his own movies, like the surreal and hilariously deranged Kuso; or, more recently, scoring the Netflix anime series Yasuke, which just dropped. Yasuke is a fictitious retelling of the real-life figure of the same name, who was reputedly the first Black samurai to serve a warlord in Japan.
In crafting his own score for the series, FlyLo found inspiration from three electronic music pioneers, in particular: French composer Jean-Michel Jarre, Greek composer Vangelis, and Japanese composer Isao Tomita. For his appearance on the latest episode of Needle 2 the Groove — where vinyl lovers and collectors across the world talk about some of their favorite records and why they bring them comfort — Flying Lotus chose an eclectic selection of music from the three composers to highlight.
Starting things off with Oxygéne, FlyLo said that the album — as well as Jarre’s Oxygene: Live in Your Living Room that features the artist performing the album in its entirety live — gave him so many ideas for the Yasuke score.
“I must’ve listened to this thing so many times…this record right here, I’m glad I found it immediately because I was like, ‘This is a perfect tie-in into Yasuke,'” he said.
Following that was Heaven and Hell from Vangelis. Better known for his film score work — he composed the scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire, the latter of which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1982 for — Vangelis not only inspired FlyLo in terms of the sound of Yasuke, but his approach in making it, setting up his equipment in a way to where he could watch the show and start crafting its soundtrack.
“The spirit of that, I think, was inspired by Vangelis,” he said. “More than just the sound, I think it’s just the spirit — that energy to be connected to that moment, and not try and do hella takes and try and methodically figure out what it is. You just improvise and feel it.”
FlyLo then punctuated the synth-heavy sounds of Oxygéne and Heaven and Hell with the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack. Now, if you’re an anime fan, you probably know how other anime fans (possibly even including yourself) hold such high regard not only for the Cowboy Bebop anime series but its incredible soundtrack, most notably its opening song “Tank!” So, it was only right to ask FlyLo if he thought the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack was the GOAT anime soundtrack.
“I think it all depends on what you’re going for, right?” he said. “It all depends on your mood, but it is a great soundtrack and a great theme. That opening, I don’t know if anyone’s got a better opening still.”
And, lastly, the producer highlighted The Bermuda Triangle. While playing some of the tracks from the album, FlyLo also acknowledged what makes the late Tomita so inspiring is the fact that the Japanese composer made his music with monophonic synthesizers, which can only produce one note at a time.
“He was one of the pioneers of that synth sound,” FlyLo said. “This was, like, back when people just used this stuff for sound effects for movies or whatever. He was like, ‘Let me try and make some music out of this stuff.’ Only a few people were at the time, and Tomita was one of those people.”
Flying Lotus is the latest vinyl lover to be featured on our new series Needle 2 the Groove. We kicked off with Chuck D sharing some notable records from his collection that included everyone from Richard Pryor to Funkadelic. Following him was Jill Scott, who highlighted Madlib’s Medicine Show No. 7: High Jazz, Minnie Riperton’s Love Lives Forever, and Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet.