The Beginning

Flying Lotus (FlyLo) a.k.a Steven Ellison from Los Angeles is a talented experimental multi-genre musician. His third album 'Cosmogramma' was released on May 3, 2010. The song MmmHmm is taken from it.

Where does the name Cosmogramma come from?
Ha! That was a name that haunted me for a long time. It’s something that I thought I heard when I was listening to a tape of my aunt Alice (Coltrane) speaking. She was speaking about planets, and saying people don’t realise they are all playing a game. She called it a ‘cosmic drama’. But she said it under her breath so I thought she said “Cosmogramma”. I looked into it and cosmogramma is actually a word, it’s basically a map of the universe, and that is very much in keeping with what I wanted to do for this record.

You’ve said in the past that your aunt Alice is a big source of inspiration. Was that the case for this record?
The whole record is basically an ode to my aunt. I’ve been super inspired by her for the past two years, more so than at any other point in my life. I grew up listening to her all the time, but it never really registered in the same way as it does now. I love the harp and strings and I want people to feel that same emotion that I do.

How does Cosmogramma differ from your previous work?
Well it’s way more dynamic, bigger in scope and more textured. There’s more live instrumentation too, so I’ve been expanding my universe. I think it ‘s bigger and better than anything I’ve done before.

How do you feel about the reception Cosmogramma has had?
It's scary, it's so scary, I feel so naked! Especially with this one because I really feel I put me in there as much as I have ever, and I feel very vulnerable. But it's been so far so good I think as far as reaction has gone. But I've already got an idea of where I want to go now, so I just want to do this stuff and see it through and move on to the next thing. But I believe in this one, I said what I wanted to say I think. For the first time, I got close to saying what I wanted to say from the start.

Listen to tracks here

Flying Lotus has tapped into a global audience for his music and the success genuinely seems to have taken him by surprise. His new album features a track from Thom Yorke, a sign of how fast this man’s cache has grown.

How did the Thom Yorke collaboration come about?

That came through Mary Anne Hobbs. She knew that I was into him, and that I am a big fan of his work, and she wanted to make something happen. So she got in touch with him and said he should listen to some of my stuff. He got in touch the next day and was like, ‘what’s up’? I sent him over a few things and he told me he was really busy and might not have time to do anything. Anyway two days later he sends me these files through email and they were all done! I was surprised but very excited.

Sounds like it worked out perfectly…
It was a super easy process. He doesn’t say much, but when he says something you get it and when he doesn’t say anything at all you get it (laughs). He’s very cool, and it was so much fun playing with the track, arranging it. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my career so far.

(Source: Juno, RA, Clash)

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