The visionary LA beatmaker and RBMA alum looks back on his early years, the birth of Brainfeeder and making his first feature film.
Steven Ellison, AKA Flying Lotus, is a man of many talents. Ellison began making beats as a teenager on an MPC-style workstation given to him by a cousin. He was initially keen to pursue a career in filmmaking, so he went to study at the Los Angeles Film School. After college, he began working for the John Coltrane Foundation, which was run by members of his family (Alice Coltrane was his great-aunt). He later secured an internship at Stones Throw Records, and it was during his time at Egon and Peanut Butter Wolf’s label that Ellison attended Red Bull Music Academy Melbourne; his debut album, 1983, soon followed on Plug Research. Since then, Ellison has been on an upward trajectory: Following the success of his own albums on Warp, he established the Brainfeeder label in 2008. Designed initially as an outlet for music by fellow members of the LA scene, the imprint has become a go-to source for experimental electronic music of all descriptions. The label’s film division launched in 2016, with Kuso, Ellison’s directorial debut, appearing in cinemas a year later.