Steven Ellison otherwise know as Flying Lotus has released five albums since 2006; he also raps under the alias Captain Murphy and has recently produced with Kendrick Lamar and Mac Miller. Over the years, he has worked with acclaimed and accomplished musicians like Erykah Baduand Thom Yorke.
Ellison also runs Brainfeeder Records-“a home for seekers" and since 2016, he's also been involved in films such as his own debut, NSFW Kusoin 2017.
To understand Ellison's drive, inspiration and creativity, we have to understand his influences; Ellison says: “My cousin got me into Stravinsky before I was a teenager. I was exposed to classical stuff early on. It filled me with wonderment; Stravinsky's music just made me feel all these different emotions within a song, all these different places it could take you and all these different visuals you can make in your mind of what it means. It was all so magical - It seemed boundless in imagination, things beyond belief”.
Snoop Dogg's debut album, Doggystyle, was huge for Flying Lotus - ‘In the early 90s, West Coast hip-hop hugely influenced me. I love Snoop’s lyrics, but it was the production and a kind of musical sensibility in hip-hop that was really groundbreaking at a time when it was all about the breaks and short little vinyl things being looped up: actual musicians playing parts.”
Flying Lotus spent hisearly years working for record label Stones Throwwhen J Dilla's Donutscame out and when Madlib did the Sound Directions album.
His grandmother is a songwriter and she used to write for Motown and Diana Ross. Her sister is Alice Coltrane- an amazing artist and spiritual force, who was once married to John Coltrane, one of the great musical geniuses of our time.
He often talks about his Aunt, commenting on how he grew up in her ashram. She would teach a service there and they'd also play music for hours. His connection with her music was more of a spiritual one; “ I always had a feeling there was something about it and it was so unique in the landscape of everything else I was hearing as a kid.”
Video games have definitely played a big part in his musical catalogue, because especially in the early days he was sampling Nintendo’s and video games. He unveiled six new tracks from his Blade Runner Black Out 2022 soundtrack, along with collaboration with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Lotus said: “seeing Blade Runner imagery set to my music was a beautiful feeling.” He added: “It all came out so good. Really proud of it.”His full-length record was ‘You’re Dead’ in 2014. NME hailed the album “madly inventive”and said it “takes hip-hop and jazz as starting points, beats them both to death and then brings them back to life in an almost unrecognisable form.” He also operates under the guise of Captain Murphy and Viktor Vaughn's is MF Doom's.
YOU’RE DEAD ALBUM
For an album with a threat for a title You’re Deadis surprisingly bubbly! There’s a consensous that Ellison has been stretching for a new musical language and this maybe thealbum. A dream-like state is created on listening to this album - each song and musical part flowing into eachother, seamlessly; this could be onomatopoetic of death itself.
The album opens with a crescendo of strings and other industrial sounds. The light touch of a triangle intermittently explodes into a cacophony of electrical neo jazz stabs and chords, with a crazy saxophone poised.
I didn’t actually understand how to interpret tracks 2 and 3 but by FKN DEADI was back, riding the lotus vibe. Slowing down for a more laid back jazz feel with a fantastic electric guitar and band support.
Track 6 got my motor running again as well! That’s slower, deeper feel is the bit I love about Flying Lotus. The track’s simplicity is the key to its addictiveness. A very captivating simple 4 – chord chorus rings in your head – willingly! Snoop dogs vocal contribution is a welcome addition to boot!
Turkey Dog Comais back on the nutty train!! A reoccurring feel of neo jazz spattered with electronic.
Go and listen to this artist - he is, in the true sense of the word, an artiste.