Steamrolling its way to playlists and concert venues this fall is the new album from music fusion guru Flying Lotus (born Steven Ellison). The cleverly named Until the Quiet Comes is composed out of “a collage of mystical states, dreams, sleep and lullabies,” putting listeners and fans on a nocturnal trip through their subconscious. Never one to follow by the rules set by the music industry, Steven uses his artistic liberties to formulate the sentiments one feels in an out-of-body experience through his cosmic play of bass weight and computerized arrangements while his long-time muses Niki Randa and Laura Darlington match the beautiful chaos through the graceful vocals.
Steven sat down with Vibe, still wiping the sleep out of his eyes, to discuss his new album and the power the supernatural world holds for his music.
VIBE: If you can describe your sound to an alien visiting our planet for research, what would it be?
Steven: I think I might be over thinking the question. I want to say ‘beep boop, beep.” [Laughs] I’d tell them that it’s a lot of music that we’ve come to know: jazz, hip-hop, electronic music, psychedelic rock, so, some kind of mutant hybrid of all those genres.
Many readers might find your sound familiar due to the music you produced on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim.” Do you by chance have any favorite shows on that program?
I really like the new Black Dynamite show, that’s pretty good. The Eric Andre Show, Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Those shows are all pretty good.
What cultural musical influences did you look to when creating this album?
I think its more African percussion music that really inspired a lot of the songs, specifically the first track. I always listen for African music – it’s kind of like a foundation for sampling.
Stemming from a family of jazz musicians, including John Coltrane, does that influence ever find itself in your music?
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s not necessarily the specific sound that makes it jazz-inspired, but more so the mind set and approach to it. I feel like I’ve always been a jazzman in a way, or as much as you can be in 2012 and without doing heroin.
What made you want to focus on the human-subconscious/dream world in your latest album?
I feel like that world fascinates me so much. That feeling is very present in the artist’s mind where creative ideas flourish. The notion of the unknown and beyond is something that I’ve always been curious about, and the music and work that do is where I can ask those questions.
What are you hoping fans will get from this album?
I hope the fans will get an experience. I really did want this thing to be a journey, and something people can enjoy for a long time and can come back to. It doesn’t really refer to a specific time, it refers to all time – it’s timeless.
You have a few guest artists on this album including Laura Darlington, Niki Randa, Thundercat and Thom Yorke. What requirements does one have to possess when collaborating with you on an album/track?
I like vocalists who see their sound as texture as opposed to the song. When it comes to producing these records, I always like the approach to be that we’re expanding the beat and the track, and not necessarily doing just a regular song with hooks and choruses. Sometimes singers overdo it so that you only focus on the voice, which is cool sometimes, but it’s my record – I’m producing it – so the songs should be about the track as a whole. The people that are my favorites are ones who have such a respect for what’s already there. They don’t try to approach it thinking they’re going to turn it into a song, but rather going to add to it.
If there was a rapper/hip-hop artist you could collaborate with, who would it be and why?
I really want to do a song with Tyga – I’ve been listening to his tracks since 2008. I would also really like to do something with Eminem - that would be crazy. I’m so inspired by the new generation of rappers.
What was the best dream you’ve ever encountered in your sleep?
There’s a dream that was so real. I was wandering around in a forest where everyone I knew was there and they were all sitting down like they were about to watch a play happen in the woods. Then a really amazing god-like being came down to earth. He was like a Hindu god, and he was huge. I’m a tall guy, but I was probably only reach up to his knee, and I just held him around his leg and he took me up into the sky where you can see the whole planet. From that angle you could see everything, including some of most amazing details, and you could see that this being was washing the world over with good intentions. It was such a beautiful thing to see, and it felt more real than reality.
Until the Quiet Comes drops October 1st and 2nd on Warped Records. Preorder the album at flying-lotus.com/until-the-quiet-comes and check out dates and locations for his upcoming tour.