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Music

Flying Lotus brings his otherworldly sound to Afrofuturism at Carnegie Hall

Flying Lotus
Jordan Munns
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Flying Lotus

Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, says he’s crafting something a bit more "slowed-down" and "cerebral" for his upcoming debut at Carnegie Hall on Saturday.

The concert will feature a longtime collaborator, string arranger, violist, and synth artist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, along with jazz harp sensation Brandee Younger.

In a recent WNYC interview on All of It with Alison Stewart, Ellison — an artist accustomed to rousing packed crowds at rave dance parties — admits this seated affair will be a nice change of pace. (His last gig in NYC was at Brooklyn Mirage, the sprawling industrial complex.)

He says it's "quite an honor" for him to perform at the historic venue, however he does have issues with the label AfroFuturism, a sentiment shared with one of our recent guests on The Checkout, Angel Bat Dawid, who will also be performing later this month.

"I don’t know if I love the term. A futurist is a futurist period. But I do believe Black people do have a different vision of the future, especially because we’ve seen so many different visions that don’t really include us. So we kind of have to create our universes, our own multiverses."

This idea naturally alludes to another Ellison project, a sci-fi black horror feature film entitled Ash, which he says will be “Something that we’ve never seen before. It's weird seeing black people in sci-fi movies. No one will see this movie coming."

Back in 2015, The Checkout interviewed Flying Lotus from his home in Los Angeles about his jazz influences. At that time, he was promoting You’re Dead! which he said would be his only jazz recording. That may have been the case, but the ethos of jazz remains strong with most of his musical works he creates today — especially in his penchant for improvisation, working with fellow jazz instrumentalists, and his desire to put himself in musically precarious situations.

“I have to have the element of danger," he says. "I like the idea of musically being shot out of a cannon and hopefully landing gracefully.”

Flying Lotus performs at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, as part of the Afrofuturism series.