Listen Here: Flying Lotus

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XLR8R writer Brandon Ivers plays the tracks, while L.A. beatsmith Flying Lotus dishes the dirt. Read the full FlyLo feature here or download a pdf of XLR8R 119.

XLR8R: [plays Martyn “Natural Selection”]

Flying Lotus: Yeah, Martyn. M-A-R-T-Y-N? He's a friend of mine.

No shit?? Well he sent me this track, and I heard it, but it reminds me of you a little.

What's it called?

Umm... “Natural..."

“Natural Selection”? That's the one I like most. That's weird man, I just listened to this on the airplane!

I guess it's how the drums work, but he's coming from garage and whatnot. It's got that swing.

I like Martyn. My boy Sinbad put a mix CD together, and this track was in there. I had to get up afterwards. [laughs]

Weird coincidence! I swear there's something going on... Some unspoken weird connection.

We're all kind of inspiring each other right now, which is why I can't get upset about it. You can't blame anyone for trying to catch on to some kind of vibe. But now I know it's my position to take the music and do something else with it. Now any kid can turn on a computer and, like, not sequence this shit. There's all kinds of ways of chopping shit, but if it's not musical, whatever.

Dubstep is intentional club music. But you can have a track that's really deep, and you can still move to it. And I think that's the relation to my music. It can be introspective and deep and dark and all that. But again, dubstep gave folks a means to do IDM and still have girls in the club. And it's like with this "wonky" stuff, it’s like, ‘Oh I can mix the Timbaland chords with an offbeat pattern and it's a hit.’ In all honesty, I think that's where pop is gonna go, on this wonk-hop thing. It's all moving quickly, and people’s time is limited. You gotta get in where you fit in. I'm not one of those cats that wants to be all about glitches and shit though.

[plays Mr. Oizo “Monophonic Shit”] Oh and then this... So good.

[Mr. Oizo] knows it, too. VERY well. He's an interesting character. Man... You could still drop anything from Analogue Worms Attack in the club now, and its like... killer.

He wasn’t doing this first was he?

I dunno, probably not. But he definitely had a swagger to it. It's not so much the programming–it's the attitude behind it. Very rebellious. That's kinda what I've been hearing in this whole beat thing though… Motherfuckers are rebels, fuck y’all.

You feel like you're coming from that?

At times. But I'm not trying to do it to be cool or be with a crowd... I had a taste of it, I got into it, it was fun. They let me play the same party as Justice? OK, that's what's up. But that shit is bulllllllwinkle. It's just not me. Music is a little more spiritual for me–I never did this with the intention of having it played in clubs. It's always been headphone music. I had to stop and realize why I did this shit in the first place. I don’t wanna be on some superstar shit. Playing shows and stuff is fun, but I don't want the extra shit. Just give me my check.

Is it cause there's something innately not-timeless about what they do?

Yeah. People are into it for different reasons. They make shit just ’cause its fun. Or they make it cause they think its cool, and they'll be cool–whatever, that’s cool too. But I had to stop and say, ‘I don’t really care about that stuff,’ and I didn't like how it was affecting my music.

I've been particular with the tracks I’ve put on my releases. But like, I can't do it the club way. It would be about making tracks for them, and that's not what it's about for me. It's gotta stay cinematic for me, it's gotta be an epic. It's my testament, my one thing to say all year. You can do those crowd-pleaser beats, and that's fun, but I’m trying to take it a little deeper than that.

Let’s go back to that idea of timeless music... Is that even possible?

What, like, timeless electronic music?

Yeah. Can it be done?

I think there's something to be said for time itself. You have to know where you stand in time, and you have to know what’s happened. But your shit has to make sense to people. And it shouldn't be all about the gliches and bleeps and bloops unless it’s supposed to be there.

Reminds me of timestretching when it first came out. It’s like a funny relic now when you hear it.

Now hearing Aphex Twin is a little different. You can do all that way easier, turn on a beat repeat. But the thing about him is that his shit is still dope because it’s musical.

[plays Aphex Twin “Flim”] Speaking of musical, I feel like the drum pattern on this one is the music.

I just reject the whole drum pattern of this. I like the melody. It’s fun, it's familiar in an unfamiliar world. It's the connecting factor–people can hear the chords against these sometimes not-so-inviting drum patterns. It's an interesting clash, something harmonious and beautiful against something frantic and loose.

[plays John Coltrane “Venus”]

You know, when that cat came out, everybody tried to sound like him.

Modal jazz seems more complicated than anything I can figure out.

It’s also being in tune with self, though, man. It's way beyond mathematics or any kind of science. There's something to be said for being this vessel for information, you know. Sometimes we take credit for these things that just come to us. I dunno about everybody else, but sometimes, most times, I go back to shit I made the next day I don't even understand how it actually happened! What happened here, who did this, and why; Why is this set this way? Why would I do that? Sometimes it doesn't make sense. We're this vessel for this weird kind of information.

How could you write this song? How would you transcribe it? Is it a jam?

It's language, man. It's all language. I had this conversation with my cousin... like… How? It's like speaking–some people are better communicators than others. There is a language, and some people grasp it better. Once you grasp it, there's not much that needs to be said. They probably go back to the recording, and don't know how they got there. That's the trip thing–those cats just got high, did shit, and were like, ‘Let's do this more tomorrow!’

We reflect the world we live in, we can't help that. Even with people that aren't out there. Burial, for example. He’s still part of London, and you can hear that. It makes so much sense when you're over there, listening to it; it makes the city a little more bearable. It's like, what the city is trying to say to me. It’s weird like that.

Is that timeless?

It is timeless.

I feel like glitch is just a continuation of what jazz drummers were doing ages ago. Maybe glitch reminds people of wild fills and all that. But it's the texture of it that doesn't sound right. [plays edIT "Monday (Glitch Mob Remix)"]

Hah, that's a cool way of thinking about it... Hmmm... But edIT, he's doing it for different reasons. I was just with that dude in SF. [He's about] making the most futuristic fucked-up shit you can that's still fun. Technology at its fullest, he's the representation of that completely. He wants to be out there playing for thousands of people. I don't. I'd rather be hanging out in the studio. I'm not a raver. I missed that whole rave thing. I'm not a clubber, I don't go out. I like movies, and I like to make my movies with music.

More on Flying Lotus
Feature: The Imperfect Beat
XLR8R TV: Flying Lotus' High Score
MP3: Dance Floor Stalker