Emile Haynie Talks Debut Album, Working With Lana Del Rey & Kanye West In ‘Complex’ Interview
Emile Haynie is gearing up for the release of his debut album, which will bring his persona to the mainstream forefront after many years of being the behind-the-scenes producer for major acts like Eminem, Bruno Mars, Kid Cudi, Kanye West and Lana Del Rey.
The musician recently spoke with Complex magazine about the journey of creating the album (he reveals that it is based around a failed relationship), as well as his experience of working with artists like the Coney Island Queen and Yeezy.
On writing for other artists versus writing for himself: I’ve written with artists plenty of times, and co-written songs where you sit there with a girl and it’s right. I’ve written lyrics with them, but that was me trying to get into their life. This is actually about what I was feeling. I’ve never done that before. I’ve never had anything I felt I wanted to say. It’s not better or worse, it’s just all of a sudden red became black. Also, I’ve never been nervous about writing songs. I’ve never been weirded out by lyrics. I’ll write anything for somebody else, and if they don’t like it then they don’t sing it. If they like it, cool. This is like your whole context changes. Imagine if you’re writing a piece on somebody else. It’s cool, you make them look good, you do your job. What if you had to write something personal about your life? It’s like, “Oh, shit. Is this cool, is this good?” You lose all sense of reality.
On feeling self-doubt: Absolutely! Every second. If I had to do it on my own, this would have never come out. I was surrounded by my friends and they don’t lie to me. If it wasn’t for them saying, “No, it’s good. I promise. It’s good,” psyching me up, this would’ve never happened. There’s no chance. It gives me a lot of perspective on artists, too. The weirdness they feel. When I argue with them in the studio and they’re totally crazy, it’s like, “Wait a minute. I get it now.” This is their words, their life they’re talking about. Even if it’s great, if it doesn’t apply you can’t put it out in the world.
On not working on Ultraviolence: I don’t wanna diss anyone. Not working on Lana’s second album, that’s like my sister, and we love each other. That was a massive move. I felt terrible. Before she got with Dan and it worked itself out, there were some tense moments. She got quite upset sometimes. It was painful for me to feel like I might be leaving her hanging. The beauty of the relationship that we have is she understood, and she knew what I was dealing with, she knew I had to do what I had to do, and she was so supportive the entire time.
We met years ago just to make tunes, and now it’s become so much more than that. This is her album, this is her baby. She just knew on a friendship level what I was doing and she didn’t get bummed. She sang a song on my album. She would come in and listen to my album and give me all this great advice.
Thank God for her. That was trying. It was right at the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing at that point. She had her songs written. She wrote her entire album. It was a production. That’s Lana, she does that. Lana doesn’t do the generic co-write thing, Lana sat and wrote her songs. I just knew I had to write, and it wasn’t a writing gig with her—it would be a producing gig. I had to write, I had to write. It didn’t matter if the songs got produced and never came back, I had to write. I would’ve went crazy if I didn’t.
On collaborating on Kanye West’s “Runway”: He’s the most intense creative person I’ve ever met. It’s the most difficult working situation ever. But it’s the same with [FKA] twigs and the same with Lana: They have what they want their shit to sound like in their head, and they know what it is before you’ve ever touched the piano. And they will fight to the death until they get that sound. They don’t compromise, they don’t say, “Yeah, I guess it’s good,” which are the worst words [that could come] out of an artist’s mouth. They get pissed off and they say, “No, something’s not right here.” In the pop game they’re going to you to make their shit better than it actually is.
I like to work with artists who are way better than me and I’m just good at getting them to the point where they can hit that peak. Twigs is such a good example. She would constantly push and fight, and in the back of my head I knew that’s what needed to happen, but it’s super frustrating at the time. Same with Kanye. It’s like, “How can you not like this? This song is a nine!” And he’s like, “Fuck you, it’s got to be a 10!” And that’s what makes it great. That’s where you really learn.
The Lana Del Rey-assisted “Wait For Life” and “Come Find Me” with Lykke Li and Romy Madley Croft can be found on Haynie’s solo LP — titled We Fall. Other vocalists featured on the album include Rufus Wainwright, Charlotte Gainsbourg, fun. frontman Nate Ruess and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson. Look out for it on February 24 via Interscope.
Click here to read Emile Haynie’s Complex interview in full, and let us know in the comments if you’re excited for his new album!
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.