Interview: Until The Quiet Comes With Flying Lotus

By | October 8, 2012 at 7:53 am | No comments | Featured Post, Interviews, MUSIC | Tags: , , , ,

He’s not from a galaxy far far away, and I don’t think he ever trained under the cruel tutelage of Pai Mei or Jim Kelly… But something about Flying Lotus sounds part sci-fi crossed with the dark hadou, like cruising in an x-wing fighter after pounding cinder blocks into dust at the neighborhood dojo.

His music can be melodic as songbirds and nightingales, digital like true technotronics and still somehow soulful like the fabulous dramatics. You can count the breaks and let your eardrums get shattered by bass, but really though… describing it is like putting a ship in a bottle. His music is meant to sail the open waters with a life of its own and not sit behind glass walls on a shelf.

ILLSOCIETY Magazine was given the opportunity to marinate with Flying LotuS shortly before he unveiled his new work, Until The Quiet Comes, to the public at large. We were invited up to a private location in the hills of Echo Park and greeted by a lone stone buddah head over looking the staircase which lead into the bungalow series of offices where FlyLo and his management team were promptly waiting for us and our questions.

We sat down with the man behind the Brainfeeder agenda as he finished eating like a king and humbly got some trees from his whip to fumigate while we chopped it up like Benihanas.

ISM: What kinda buddah have you been lighting up recently? Do you pay attention to that kinda thing? Like Blue Dream, Sour Diesel?

Flying Lotus: I think this is Dos Años.

ISM: Dos Años.. Do you think that weed’s been literally gathering energy for two years?

Flying Lotus: Who knows man… honestly, all the names and stuff, and all that… That’s all good, as long as it works. Right? This shit works.

ISM: Sometimes it’s just the act too, you know? Crumblin’ the weed, it’s real ritualistic.

Flying Lotus: Yeah, yeah.

ISM: The first thing I wanted to know is… What are you going to do when the quiet comes? Like when the music goes off, and you put the drum machines away, and the orchestras go home… Like what do you do when the quiet comes?

Flying Lotus: You’re probably the only person who gets the title… [laughs] …Because it’s a hell of a thing. I honestly don’t know. I really feel like when the quiet comes I’ll be an old man listening to my children making music, hopefully, you know… Or I’ll be dead.

[Laughs]

ISM: Cuz then it would be real quiet, when you’re dead.

[Laughs]

Flying Lotus: Exactly.

ISM: You stated that this album is like a collage of mystical states, dreams, sleep and lullabies. Listening to it is almost like a peyote vision. I was curious if you had any trips making this album, or reoccurring dreams or visions that were running through your head while you were painting this picture?

Flying Lotus: Yeah man, I always make sure that I have some kind of psychedelic experience every year, whether it’s acid, mushrooms or DMT or something like that. I have to do one a year, and that’s just for me, it doesn’t have to do with music or making music.

ISM: It’s a real spiritual journey.

Flying Lotus: Yeah, you know, a kind of inward journey, and it can also be a way to bond with your peoples too.

ISM: True.

Flying Lotus: I really cherish that experience.

ISM: Native cultures believed in vision quests, and they’d put themselves in a trance like state through different substance and they’d learn about themselves and the world around them and what they needed to accomplish and do.

Flying Lotus: I’m down with all of that too man, that’s something that I remind myself of, you know, the ancient people were more connected to God, or the idea of God, than we are. And I think that is because they had that personal connection, and that was often through the use of substances and psychedelics to get there. I feel like really the God is within us.

ISM: I like that, it’s really kinda 5%er or buddhist. That God is in everything, like the divine element. There’s God in that weed we’re about to spark, in the flame, in the lighter, in you, in me, in everything. That’s that divine presence which connects everything… but uh… What did you want to accomplish with this album? Like what sets it apart from your previous work and what are you trying to say new for yourself and for the listener as well?

Flying Lotus: With the last record I did [Cosmogramma], I felt it was exactly what I wanted to say. And on this one, I wanted to do something that was on par with that feeling, that it felt the same, that it had that feeling, that same notion, but at a different time, i didn’t want to repeat myself.

ISM: Exactly, progress. You know what I’m saying?

Flying Lotus: Shit, I think that more than anything, I wanted to try and create an experience that was like a non-stop journey for 40 minutes and a half of your attention.

ISM: You’re gonna take that 40 minutes of attention and travel across the world with it. So there’s a lot of ears listening, and you’re speaking in a universal language. I mean even when you have Erykah singing on the song (See Thru To U) it’s like very ambient. You know what I’m saying? Her vocals, you can’t almost understand all of them. There’s a lot of harmony that plays a more important roll… So is there anywhere that you wanna play that you haven’t played yet? Like tour wise or travel wise, where would you like to take your music on this planet?

Flying Lotus: To be honest I feel like I haven’t toured America enough. You know, I love this country, and I haven’t been able to travel it enough as much as I’d like to. You know I’ve been a lot of places around the world, I haven’t been to Africa yet, I’d really love to go there, but I think there are places at home that I’d really like to see and I’d like to connect with the American people in middle America. I haven’t done that tour yet.

ISM: Rock Nebraska state…

Flying Lotus: Yeah man, I want to do that. Europe shouldn’t be the only place where this music is heard. I feel like it’s American music. I want to make sure that we have this too.

ISM: Did you use a lot of samples on this album?

Flying Lotus: Absolutely, yeah.

ISM: Were they a lot of American samples?

Flying Lotus: [laughs]

ISM: I don’t want you to give away too many of your secrets.

Flying Lotus: Honestly, I don’t think it was like that. I think it was a lot of samples from all around the world, whether it be via recording, or records, or wherever I sampled it from.

ISM: What’s a typical recording session like for you?

Flying Lotus: That depends man, you mean like working with a vocalist or something?

ISM: Just for you, like when you sit down to sketch a beat. What ingredients need to be going right in your day for you to feel like you’re going to make your best music?

Flying Lotus: I need a lot of energy, and almost like I need to already have this pulse before I start working. You know sometimes you can get that pulse, you can have that build up in the day, but I feel like for me personally, I need to have a lot of energy. I smoke a lot of weed, you know, and I think it’s real easy for me to just get like eeehh… get all lethargic while I’m making music. And I don’t really make the best stuff like that. It has to have the follow through.

ISM: The whole energy of making a beat. It’s easy to make a loop or chop something, but then you only have maybe two bars that’s repeated. How do you make it progressive from beginning to end where it’s cinematic?

Flying Lotus: Yeah… You just kinda look at what you got, and you try to break it. That’s what I think. You know, I get something that I think works really well for a minute. Then, how long should this happen? You know, and then I’ll be like, how can I break my knowing of where we’re going. And then I’ll get something out of it, and I’ll be like ok, I kinda know where it goes. And then it’s not so fun any more. I think the fun is knowing that you don’t know what’s around the corner, even while you’re making it. Just be like oh well, what if this was only a fragment of the song and fuck it let’s just keep going, you know… Fuck it. I like that notion. Just knowing that you can just do anything… there’s no rules any more.

ISM: If Until The Quiet Comes was the score to a silent movie, who would you trust to direct it?

Flying Lotus: Like big director?

ISM: Like whoever? It could be anybody…

Flying Lotus: Khalil Joseph.

ISM: I’m unfamiliar, can you put me up on game?

Flying Lotus: Khalil Joseph. He’s a young film maker, who’s started his thing already. He’s started making some stuff for the album, and I feel like he’s perfect. On someone who you might know, Darren Aronofsky. He did that movie The Fountain.

ISM: That was a dope flick, like she was dying and leaving a notebook behind for him. So… what’s your favorite little hideaway restaurant here in Los Angeles?

Flying Lotus: Oh… should I give that away?

[Laughs]

ISM: I don’t no man, maybe, what kind of cuisine is it?

Flying Lotus: I want my restaurant to stay low key.

ISM: Don’t ruin the spot. Then everyone will be there.

Flying Lotus: It’s small dude. There’s this place I like to go to, and it seems like every time I go now, and not that I didn’t like it, but whatever, just because it’s good, it’s so much harder to eat there every time I go. It’s like now I gotta go to the restaurant an hour in advance. As soon as you start getting the inkling of hunger, you gotta start making your way over there cuz you’ll be hungry as fuck by the time you get a table. There’s a place I like here called Paru’s, which is an indian food spot off of Sunset. They’re really good.

ISM: Can you cook?

Flying Lotus: Yeah.

ISM: You got any original recipes?

Flying Lotus: Pshh… No. I stole all my shit.

ISM: Riiight.. Hand me downs from my moms is where I got my best recipes.

Flying Lotus: What’s your favorite?

ISM: My favorite? I got this little dish with like shrimp, and black beans, and red peppers and onions in a curry-cream sauce and you serve it over noodles.

Flying Lotus: Just give me that without beans though.

ISM: Aww man, the beans really make it, the black beans. You gotta try it.

Flying Lotus: I can’t do beans. That’s the one thing I can’t do. I gained the love for asparagus now.

ISM: It’s an acquired taste.

Flying Lotus: Yeah, I didn’t ever think I’d like it. I didn’t like it for so long, but then I started liking it and was like, all right, it’s good. But beans, I still can’t do.

ISM: Any types of beans?

Flying Lotus: No types of beans.

ISM: Aww shit.

Flying Lotus: It’s just the taste, the smell, the texture. Everything.

ISM: Not even green beans?

Flying Lotus: Green beans are good.

ISM: They’re a little different than like refried beans, or pork and beans.

Flying Lotus: Oh God no, bean dip and all that, can’t do it. I wish I could, cuz I know… when the end of the world happens, that will be like the one food that everyone turns to.

ISM: That and dog food right?

Flying Lotus: I’m fucked, I’m gonna be eating puppy chow.

ISM: Like Mad Max.

[Laughs]

ISM: How’d you get the name Flying Lotus?

Flying Lotus: No one ever asked me that before.

ISM: Is it like some Pai Mei kung fu shit?

Flying Lotus: I thought of what does it sound like, more than of who am I. I wanted to describe what I thought it sounded like at the time.

ISM: It’s like deep meditation, you know the buddhist mantra the jewel in the center of the lotus, and that lotus is flying through your third eye.

Flying Lotus: At the time, it felt very fitting. I feel it’s really fitting for this album too. I felt that when I did choose the name, it was kinda effortless, and I wanted it to kinda be playful too, but serious. It’s kinda like music.

ISM: It fits… Names should be fitting.

Flying Lotus: It just kinda happened. I wish there was a fuckin’ cool story with that, but there ain’t. It’s just one of those things like name the track.

ISM: How do u come up with names for your tracks? You got some dope names for these songs on the album, you know like “The Nightcaller”, “Phantasm”, “Until The Colors Come”. Do you just make the track and snap?

Flying Lotus: All the names, I really do try, when I’m working on something, to name it, to give it a name that pertains to the moment, or the notion of what it is about. All of them, the tracks, it is kinda my life story, though you may not know. it’s like these little moments…

ISM: You have those pulses. It’s a strong feeling. You don’t just get that pulse every day.

Flying Lotus: No you don’t.

ISM: You bottle up a lot of memories and emotions in the songs, and then they become one with the listener. And then the listener puts their life to that music now too, whether they are driving around or trying to pick up some girl to it, or whatever it is, partying. That scores their life at the same time.

Flying Lotus: Which is the fun thing about instrumental music because everyone can make up their own story for it. It’s that kinda thing, where you know, whoever listens to it, has their own journey for it. They have their own memories of what it is and what it means to them. When you have a lot of lyrics, those lyrics dictate the story, but with instrumentals… It’s like you can dictate without.

ISM: It’s like choose your own adventure.

Flying Lotus: Yeah, exactly. So I mean I love that about the platform. But yeah, to me though, when I hear it, I hear all of the things that I’ve been through since the album, the last album, some good things, some bad things, some sad things, some fun things, some happy things, some not so awesome things… All of the memories are there.

ISM: It’s like graduation day. You know what i’m saying? You throw all of your accomplishments out to the world, and then you just start kinda blank again.

Flying Lotus: It kinda ends a chapter in my life.

ISM: I wanted to ask you if could you got all Bill and Ted with it in a time traveling phone booth, which artists and musicians would you go back and work with?

Flying Lotus: I’d go back and get Jimmy Hendrix, John Coltrane. Miles Davis in the 60′s.

[Laughs]

ISM: Bitches Brew shit right?

Flying Lotus: Nah, earlier than that… but actually. Hmm that might be better.

ISM: Right in between huh? You could be the one to wake him up to that.

Flying Lotus: And then he comes back and makes that shit crazy… I’d get Curtis Mayfield too.

ISM: Now that’s a list.

Flying Lotus: I’d get Elvin Jones.

ISM: What about for the time being right now? Which artists would you like to work with in the present?

Flying Lotus: I’d really like to do something with Space Ghost Purp. I’d really like to do something with Bjork. I want Hans Zimmer to hear my music for some reason. I’m like on a mission now. That’s my new goal, to get Hans Zimmer on my album. He just gotta hear that shit. I think that would be fucking cool if he heard that shit. I wonder if he would like it or just get annoyed or what? But I really wanna do something with Tyler. I really wanna do something with… um… who’s that? You know.. Fuck. I’d love to do something with Kendrick. We’ve been talking about that for years but… He’s too famous now bro.

ISM: Why haven’t you made it?

Flying Lotus: Kendrick’s too famous man. I remember that he hit me up on twitter once, and then it was like, maybe you know, a month later. He had to change his number or something like that.

ISM: You just gotta cross paths real quick.

Flying Lotus: We did!

ISM: You need that time and space.

Flying Lotus: Yeah, yeah.. You’re right. You’re right.

ISM: Flying Lotus stands on his own, you know. A Kendrick Lamar verse isn’t gonna make or break you, though it might expose some more people to your music.

Flying Lotus: Even for me being a fan of it, it’s dope for me. Even if no one else likes the shit, just the fact that… I just vibe off the energy of the situation more than the result some times, you know? I did a track with Ab-Soul and Childish Gambino the other day. They were both in the studio. We didn’t have like no emails and shit, it was like we were together.

ISM: That’s how the best music gets made.

Flying Lotus: Yeah, and we all didn’t really know each other either. It just so happened that Gambino came through, we were listening to music and Ab-Soul hit me up like “I’m downtown yo! I’m gonna come through.” It was like we all kinda bonded in this way of making this track. Who knows? For me, it’s hard to say if it’s any good because I know that the time we spent, that shit’s awesome! So you know the music is good to me on that level. I hear us getting to know each other. and so it’s like I have a totally different experience.

ISM: Music, I mean, should have that value to you as well, it’s a very personable thing, and then you share it with the world, and they make it their own. Let the critics pick the bones you know, but that song with you and Kendrick.. that would be crazy, as far as energy. That would be dope.

Flying Lotus: I know man, I know. I hear of things, you know that, people always be like, aw yeah… Kendrick was talking about you. Like fuck man, well… you know I’m in LA, where are you? Let’s do this shit, you know?

ISM: All in due time.

Flying Lotus: Yeah, yeah. One day. One day.

ISM: What about style wise? Are there any brands that caught your attention that you really like?

Flying Lotus: Man, I can’t lie. I’m the worst with fashion.

ISM: All black everything?

Flying Lotus: All black everything… Like i have this t-shirt. I have like…

ISM: Thousands?

Flying Lotus: 60 of them now.

ISM: That’s what’s up tho.

Flying Lotus: Just a plain black t-shirt. Just I don’t no…

ISM: It goes with everything.

Flying Lotus: It does, it does, but you know? Sometimes it be like… Damn. Mother fuckers be looking fresh. But I think when it comes to style man, that’s just one thing… I don’t really follow fashion. I can’t see myself spending more than like $60 bucks on a t-shirt or some shit.

ISM: I know, it gets a little ridiculous, right?

Flying Lotus: They get crazy with that shit man! You know, but… There ain’t nothing like having that one shit that no one else has. But guys like Thundercat, he’s someone who’s always around, and he’s always got some shit that he made. You know, like he’s that dude… “I just put some spurs on some chucks!” and like… It’s fucking awesome! But if anyone else wears that shit, it’s not the same.

ISM: It doesn’t have the same soul.

Flying Lotus: He owns that shit. So it’s funny… So… Spurs on chucks, man. That shit is so sick. I was literally like, damn… I was not blessed with this shit right here cuz I would have never thought of it. Never.

ISM: Aight, so the grapevine told me that you used to have an internship with Stones Throw Records…

Flying Lotus: Yeah, yeah.

ISM: And i just wanted to know, they told me that you were dropping off checks to DOOM, and running around doing all kinds of errands…

Flying Lotus: Dilla too, yeah.

ISM: I just wanted to know how that affected your business mind when it comes to music?

Flying Lotus: It was super important, it was super important. I probably wouldn’t have felt like i could run a label on my own if I didn’t have that experience. I saw so much in that. Even as, you know, from an artist perspective on an indie label. I was thinking to myself like man, you know, if I had a situation where these people were available… I’d be trying to take advantage, and be trying to do this, and then try to do this, I wouldn’t do this, you know, it wouldn’t be like that. I’d try not to do things like this, and I would always show up and do my shit. And I think that, that really gave me another kind of wave of inspiration in terms of like getting myself out there. Cuz I saw what people weren’t doing, you know, and I think that in that time, it was a big shift in things, you know, where I think that independent people weren’t getting money any more, pretty much. The old school way of doing things wasn’t working. People had to come up with clever ideas to start getting their records out. I started seeing things at that time and I think that really helped me just to know that ain’t no label gonna carry you. You gotta fucking put your own in this shit. You half to pretend like no one else is working for you. Do your own shit. Do everything, as much as you can, and even if there are people working for you, know what they are doing. Know who they are talking to. Making sure, I mean it was really important for me, especially this time around, to talk to people like you, you know, cuz I feel the hip hop thing has been missing in this because they say that I’m electronic. So it’s like I agree to extend, because I come from hip hop. so I feel like, you know, I need to carry this torch, I have to make an effort to make sure that we get to where we need to be.

ISM: So that this upholds certain traditions which inspired you and you pass that on to other generations.

Flying Lotus: Hopefully, yeah. You know, so… I mean Stones throw, that was big. That was BIG. You know at the time, I definitely knew it.

ISM: It made you feel like you could do big things, right?

Flying Lotus: It was inspiring. You know, I got to see Madlib in his success, you know, to see what that did, and to see like oh man, he could be killing it right now if he really wanted to. If he was like showing up and doing things like that, if he was really present and doing a lot shows live. Cuz I had a huge respect for what he was doing, but at the same time I was like man, you know, there is so much you can do with this music. I just saw that you could try to take it in a different direction if you wanted to.

ISM: And that’s what’s up man. That’s the freedom of music. And we’re glad that you did. You know, we were just talking about that on the way up here. You had one like real west coast sounding beat on here, I couldn’t remember which one, but you gotta get like Kurupt on there and just blow people’s minds real quick.

Flying Lotus: That would be fun man. I sat on a plane with him one time earlier this year. And i had to just… I never would do that to anybody, just like aw! You gotta listen to my shit man. Here, listen to this. But i was talking to him like “Yo! Can I play you a beat dude?”

[laughs]

Flying Lotus: It’s funny that I said that cuz before I picked the beat, I was going through my iPod like, “Fuck… ohh, which one? nahh… uhhh. maybe. eeehh.”

ISM: It’s hard to just pick one, you know?

Flying Lotus: That was funny. I should have picked the beat first, but it worked out. Yeah, it worked out. That’s definitely something that some producers need, if you are doing some shit, you need to make a playlist of like five tunes. Just five. That’s it. No more than five. That way you can like just press play on somebody real quick…

ISM: And slap…

Flying Lotus: In this day and age, cuz you never know. I always keep the jump on me now. Just in case I have to.

ISM: You gotta be ready.

Flying Lotus: With materials that are relevant.

ISM: Anything could happen, you know?

Flying Lotus: Yeah. Yeah.

ISM: Word. Until The Quiet Comes.

Flying Lotus: absolutely.

Make sure you buy that on i-tunes… ASAP.

And when the quiet does finally come, hopefully it’s not cuz the CD player in your whip just spazzed out. For real though, after listening to this album, cruise in silence for a second with your windows down… What do you hear? Are there dogs barking? Are people bumping 2pac or Ice Cube out their Low-Riders and Chevy Impalas? Are your neighbors arguing? Are those police sirens? Is that Beethoven’s 5th or the Gaslamp Killer’s new breakthrough? Can you hear yourself breathing? Will things ever truly get quiet? Honestly, I don’t know. And I don’t think I ever would really want them to. Music makes the world go ’round, and we’re blessed to have cats like Flying Lotus up in the lab creating soundscapes like this. How else would we score the good times or the bad times without a little music. So turn your stereos up, find yourself a little piece of paradise and ride out.

you know ya man’s Drop Jewelz. Word ‘em up cuz… I’m so fly. yes, on and on till the break-a-break-a-dawn, and we out. ILLsociety yo… peep game.

- ya man’s Drop Jewelz
All photos shot by Ivan Trejo

© 2011 ILLSOCIETY Media Group LLC. All rights reserved.