“After my last record came out, I started hearing a bunch of stuff that was trying to sound like that record, and it was really frustrating for me”
WHEN STEVEN Ellison was a kid growing up in California, he wanted to fly. He’d look at the superheroes in his comic books and video games and dream about possessing similar powers. He still dreams about this. “Let me be the incredible flying man and I’ll be the happiest cat ever,” he chuckles. “I don’t want to be greedy with the superpowers. The other shit will get you in trouble. I don’t want to live forever or be invincible, because I’ll turn into a villain after a while. I just want to fly.”
In some ways, Ellison got his wish. These days he’s best known as Flying Lotus, electronic music’s most out-there space cadet. There may be a glut of producers operating in that fold between electronica and hip-hop, but FlyLo is the only one you really want to get high with. No one else walks the astral walk like he does.
Releases such as 1983, Los Angeles and Reset saw Ellison set out his stall, but current album Cosmogramma sees him take a very different path. Instead of just retracing his steps and doing what people expected, he put a jazzier, more improvised, cosmic shape on his sound. The results are eerie, dreamy, fuzzy, fizzy and dazzling. Copycats who’ve made a career from aping Ellison’s cast-off beats will be scratching their heads for some time to figure out how to emulate this trip.
FlyLo couldn’t care less. “I really do think that ground has been overworked,” he says of the producers who consider themselves his peers. “There are just so many producers doing that shit now – it’s hard to find anything new. But I’m fine with them doing that because I’m going to keep doing new things, different things, and eventually they’ll catch up.
“They can keep trying to remake my last album and I’ll be on another planet.
“After my last record came out, I started hearing a bunch of stuff that was trying to sound like that record, and it was really frus- trating for me. I mean, surely there’s other stuff to explore without doing that? I always want to encourage people to keep it moving, to keep it progressing, to keep experimenting, to stay true to themselves, but there are some who choose to imitate instead. Their call, I suppose. I’m cool with it now.”
What Ellison wants to do instead is make music even he doesn’t expect to hear. “For a long time, I was just interested in impressing