Evan Kaloudis (BPM): Hey, so you have this new album Until The Quiet Comes, out October 2nd. You were going through some dark stuff around the time of Cosmogramma. Where was your head at this time around?
Flying Lotus: Man, there’s always dark stuff, ha, you know — good things, bad things — I feel this time around I wanted to go with a more ambient and textural landscape, a more minimal approach. Instead of making things bigger and bigger, I wanted to try to pull back… in a way.
BPM: Is there a tangible relationship between Cosmogramma and Until The Quiet Comes. They almost feel like companion pieces. Was that intentional? What relationship do you see them having personally, if any?
FL: Definitely. A lot of that has to do with the players first of all.
BPM: For example, you have Thundercat on, what? 70% of the record?
FL: Yeah that continuity definitely gives it that sound, similar to the last record.
BPM: Your albums have a very holistic feel, how much of that unified arc is planned out before you start recording and how much of it is stumbled upon?
FL: Um, you know, the album to me, when I started working on it, I sat down and said I wanted to try to make a record where I steal the drum sound from the same things — now I identify it that way: you have different patterns, but also have similarities in a way. At the same time I feel that a lot of it comes together on its own. You gotta stop and say to yourself, “Well, what do we got now?” There was a record that was almost done, I could feel it, I could see all these tracks. There were over 60 tracks, so then it became a matter of editing things down. I had figure out what I really wanted to say, figure out what I had to do to finish things, take on the task basically.
“You gotta stop and say to yourself, ‘Well, what do we got now?'”
BPM: Yeah it’s cool. It’s hard for most artists to tackle the album format nowadays. You still seem such a strong proponent of it, creating 40-50 minute soundscapes, instead of just songs.
FL: Yeah, it’s a strength I like to play on. As much as I would love to be a guy who excels at singles, I think that we just do what we can. We all want that sound we don’t have, don’t we? If I’m meant to do these things in this format — I mean, I like it. It feels like my opportunity to have a soundtrack to a movie in a way. It’s really fun. Hopefully people will listen to it all the way through, the way it’s meant to be heard.
BPM: On top of the jazz influences you started to explore on Cosmogramma, you seem to be digging even further into specific eras of soul and psychedelic music, any particular artists that played a role in that?
FL: I think a lot of Silver Apples, and Can, and Portishead, and Stereolab, and Gentle Giant, in that kind of psych-rock way. I was really feeling that stuff and it was really inspiring for me, especially Can.
“Hopefully people will listen to it all the way through, the way it’s meant to be heard.”
BPM: Care to talk about the other collaborators on this album? I know there were a few you hadn’t collaborated with in the past…
FL: Yeah, Erykah Badu. We… You know, It was really nice. She kind of reminded me of my mom in a way. We met up with Thundercat — it came together kinda quick — he played bass in her band and she got on [The Golden Age of Apocalypse], which I produced and then started planning some stuff. We discussed making an album, but what we made ended up on this record, on this album. We might make more stuff. There’s more, but they’re all musicians playing on this record.
BPM: Did you collaborate with Jonny Greenwood at all for “Hunger”?
FL: No, I still haven’t collaborated with him. The Jonny Greenwood thing on this album is just part of a track I took from one of his soundtracks.
BPM: Do any of those string arrangements translate live?
FL: They don’t, I mean I would have to bring my string guy — Miguel — with me to do that. I don’t usually play those takes live.
BPM: Yeah, your live sets seem to be a bit more high energy, but would you consider, say, taking a string quartet with you on tour?
FL: Yeah, I like the idea of doing that kind of stuff. But I think the idea is sometimes more fun that the results for some things. It’s hard to appeal to most people. They’re different things. If I bring out the strings people will be like, “well, where are the beats?” and vice versa. Maybe I’ll figure out the way to go with it, but I haven’t found that yet.
BPM: You talked about a large influx of beatmakers arriving in Los Angeles two years ago, has that changed at all? How has Los Angeles changed in the last two years?
FL: It seems like it’s more of a hub for artists. It seems like before 2004, or so, people weren’t really interested in LA in that way. Now it seems like a bunch of upcoming artists are on their way to LA if they’re not there already.
BPM: It seems like you’re constantly busy, working on new projects. You’re working on a new Thundercat album, you’re working on music for a new show on Adult Swim, Cat Boner…
FL: Yeah, it’s just a pilot but hopefully it comes together.
BPM: You’ve also been working with Earl Sweatshirt. I saw you posted a photo with Childish Gambino and Ab-Soul in the studio. Any other collaborations you’d like to speak on?
FL: Honestly, I have nothing really planned at the moment, I don’t know what could happen tomorrow though. You pretty much know about everything that’s happening, as far as I know. Haha.
BPM: I hate to ask but I have to. A couple of years ago you had a collaboration with Burial on MySpace. Firstly, was that legitimate? Secondly, is there any chance any more will see the light of day?
FL: There’s some stuff I had done with Burial’s music… but uhhhhh… it’s funny that you ask, because I haven’t thought about it in a long while. I always hit him up and say, “send me some shit to work with, let’s get this collaboration thing going.” We talk, but he’s… he’s in his own world, man. Whenever he’s ready, I’m ready.
BPM: That’s what I wanna hear…
FL: No you don’t wanna hear that, because waiting on him would be like you’re waiting until… well it won’t even matter anymore. Haha.
BPM: Well if I get to talk to him I’ll push for that collab and get back to you. What else have you been listening to?
FL: I listened to Frank Ocean’s album. I wanted the hype to die down a little bit, but I really liked it. I really like SpaceGhostPurpp’s album. I just downloaded the ASAP Mob album, there’s some cool stuff on that. And I was listening to the Childish Gambino Royalty things. Schoolboy Q. Ab-Soul. So much. A lot of these new kids rapping are really dope.
On collaborating with Burial: “Whenever he’s ready, I’m ready.”
BPM: How about your Brainfeeder? How close are you working with it?
FL: It’s my day-to-day goal to work on that, and on music, and making sure everyone is content at the label. It’s definitely an undertaking that I didn’t expect. But it’s a good problem to have, haha, we’re working on cool stuff with cool artists. I’m definitely involved and am probably gonna keep doing it for a while, at least as long as I can without losing my mind.
There’s good things to come from it. Seeing what it’s inspired — there’s nothing like it.
Read our review of Until The Quiet Comes here.