For the past 15 years Flying Lotus, a.k.a. Steven Ellison, has been at the forefront of groundbreaking electronic music. Blending beat tape atmospherics with cosmic jazz flourishes and experimental textures, his maximalist sound has strong connections to his home in Los Angeles, but always with a futuristic vibe. Across six studio albums he has pushed his distinctive style into new musical territories, bringing collaborators including Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and the late MF Doom into his orbit.
His independent mindset extends to his label, Brainfeeder, established in 2008, which has released albums by trailblazers like Thundercat, George Clinton, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Kamasi Washington, among many others. And in recent years FlyLo has moved further into visual arts, directing the blood-soaked 2017 horror movie Kuso and providing the score for the anime short Blade Runner Black Out 2022. He’s also behind the new Netflix anime series Yasuke, a medieval story about the first Black samurai in history, featuring the voice of Oscar-nominee LaKeith Stanfield. FlyLo scored the show, as well as writing the story alongside showrunner LeSean Thomas and working as an Executive Producer on the project.
Just before Yasuke’s launch, The FADER’s David Renshaw spoke with FlyLo about adapting his sound to the screen, his deep love of anime, and how Stanfield came to be an honorary member of the Brainfeeder crew.