Flying Lotus isn't like most
acts you'll encounter at Ultra Music Festival. The Los Angeles native, born Steven Ellison and
known as "FlyLo" to his fans, doesn't make dance music -- at least not in the traditional sense.
The acclaimed knob fiddler (Pitchfork
named his Cosmogramma the 14th
best album of 2010, while renowned BBC Radio DJ Gilles Peterson put it at No. 1)
is the clear leader of a wave of instrumental hip-hop purveyors whose glitchy, ethereal
beats have in recent years built a nameless new genre centered around LA's Low End Theory showcase and Ellison's Brainfeeder label.
instrumentals on stage for inebriated revelers fiending for four-on-the-floor
bliss may strike some as a treacherous endeavor, but Ellison is surely up to the
task. A distant relation of John Coltrane's (his great aunt is Alice Coltrane,
the late sax icon's wife), he brings charisma and a playful sense of
improvisation to his live performances, having won over audiences on big stages
like Coachella, and as an opening act for Thom Yorke (who collaborated with
FlyLo on Cosmogramma's "...And the World Laughs with You,"
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later featured on season four of True Blood.)
For someone who didn't technically release his first record until 2006, Ellison, whose resume also includes crafting instrumental interludes heard during commercial breaks on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, has an extensive catalog--three LPs (with one more due out this year) and nearly a dozen EPs. And recently he's begun to spread his wings further into outside production, crafting beats for rappers Blu, Killer Mike and Hodgy Beats and Mike G. of Odd Future. Erykah Badu has tapped him to produce tracks for her next album. While that's all well and good, Ellison's complex, alien beats speak loudest untainted by the human voice.
Ultra Music Festival 2012. Friday, March 23, to Sunday, March 25. Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets are sold out. Visit ultramusicfestival.com.