Album of the Week
Why does heartbreak sound so good?
You may not be familiar with the name Emile Haynie, but it is without a doubt you’ve heard his work as a Grammy-winning producer and songwriter on Eminem’s Recovery, Kanye West’s “Runaway,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die and fun’s Some Nights as well as on albums and singles by Pink, FKA twigs, Kid Cudi and Ghostface Killah, among many others.
Following a traumatic dissolution of a relationship, the New York native traveled to Los Angeles for last year’s Grammys, which stretched into a six-month stay in room 39 of the famed Chateau Marmont.
It was during that stay that he recorded his debut album as a performer, We Fall, a narrative that details his recovery from his shattered romance.
Along the way, Haynie assembled an all-star cast – composed of longtime friends and colleagues, as well as idols he’d never met – including his good pal, Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt along with Brian Wilson, Lana Del Rey, Rufus Wainwright, Randy Newman, Nate Ruess, Lykke Li, Charlotte Gainsbourg, The xx’s Romy, the Zombies’ Colin Blunstone, Father John Misty, Florence Welch, Sampha and Blood Orange’s Devonte Hynes.
“I made the album with mostly my friends, who knew what I was going through,” Emile explains. “I wanted to put the relationship under a microscope, and relive all my emotions, from being pissed off and hurt to a sense of relief.”
We Fall is a masterfully orchestrated album, that manages to construct a cohesive work out of a laundry list of diverse talent and stylistic influences.
Demonstrating his prowess as a producer, Haynie manages to get the best out of each of his talents, while never taking attention away from the song itself. And as an amalgamation of his own multifarious music tastes, the record aurally dances around ideas found in pop, indie, hip-hop, R&B and a sugary glaze of ’70s-era lounge.
We got the chance to talk a bit more about the record with Haynie.
How did this album come to be? How did you get such an impressive roster of artists to participate?
It was a totally organic process. Most of the people featured happen to be my close friends. I would have an interesting crew of people in my room and next thing you know, a song was getting worked on. For instance Florence was my neighbor at the time and popped over for a tea and ended up singing on a tune.
After years of success as a producer, what compelled you to go out and become an artist in your own right?
I never had any desire to be an “artist.” In the case of this album, I was in a pretty weird headspace and wrote songs to deal with it. My same friends who sing with me were also very responsible for convincing me to actually turn this into a real project of my own.
‘We Fall’ has been described as “a narrative that details his recovery from a shattered romance.”
When your heart gets broken you basically become a crazy person. At least I did. But those intense bursts of emotion can work quite well if you write.
Given the album is about such a personal, painful experience, how do you feel when listening to these songs?
Well these days I’m really pleased. I love the music.
When I first started to sober up and really move on, I didn’t listen to the album for a good while. I was worried I wouldn’t like it anymore. But I finally put it back on and I liked the music as much as when I was making it. My headspace when making it was a bit different. It was nice to have an outlet but it could get a little tough at times. I think you hear it in the songs, whatever emotion was in the air at the moment.
You’ve worked with so many different artists in different genres. How do you juggle working in such varying styles? Does this album represent the essence of your style of music?
It totally does. I grew up with hip-hop and sampling. I always loved slow psychedelic music to sample. David Axelrod ['70s producer-composer] was a huge inspiration then and now. On my album I feel like I’m sort of making the kind of music I used to sample. Having artists and musicians from all genres featured really captures my taste and how I’ve grown up over the years.
Who has been one of your favorite artists to work with?
Lana is one of my favorites. She’s such a special friend to me and we just get each other.
Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow was a massive contributor to my album and is one of my favorite people to work with as well. We’re friends first. He knew what every lyric meant the second I showed them to him because we talk about this kind of stuff naturally. On top of that he is incredibly talented. His background vocals are on so many of the tunes and exactly the kind of sound I’ve had in my head for years.
What of your past work are you most proud of?
I love Lana’s first album. I love some of the stuff I did with Kid Cudi on his first couple projects. I love working with Eminem. Him and his crew in Detroit were such a huge part of the beginning of my career, I’m super proud to be a part of his albums these days.
Going forth, do you see yourself becoming more focused on making your own music, or will you remain a producer first?
I’ll always be a producer first. This project really did open a door for me though. I can see myself doing an album for a film or something with a similar cast of characters. It just takes a specific concept that I’m passionate about I guess. I hope to do something like this again, it was the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio. All my friends, some of my heroes. Thank god I had it as a healing process and I’m so happy with the music we made.
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