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Emile Haynie In The Studio explaining how he samples for inspiration
Check out the video above to see an excerpt from Future Music Magazine's In The Studio With Emile Haynie video. Below you can read the interview and find out how Emile got started in the biz and which artist's career he aspires to follow.
Emile Haynie has married synth chords and strange electronic noise-making, with commercial melodies and roughed up samples. This fusion of styles has led him to become one of the go-to beat-makers for everyone from the Gangsta Hip Hop heavyweights to chart-topping stars like Kanye, Eminem and Kid Cudi and more recently Lana Del Ray. His main studio weapons are the trusty turntable, a hefty record collection, Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler and the Akai MPC2500.
Are you a trained musician?
"I can barely play. I mean I can play chords and make them work, then with a bit of time on those chords I can turn them in to cooler chords. I mean, I don't have any sort of chops that would impress anyone but it means I can get an idea down quick and start building something up."
But you've been DJing for a long time?
"I was a DJ, I started in 1992 when I was 12 years old. The movie Juice came out and I saw that moviend just thought that's it, that's what I want to do. Once I got my turntables I started doing more mixtapes and took it from there."
Were you playing straight up Hip Hop?
"Yeah I was a complete Hip Hop head, primarily loving the East Coast stuff and the hardcore New York scene from people like M.O.P. Mobb Deep, Gang Starr, Wu Tang, Nas and some of the West Coast artists like Dre and the Bay Area stuff.Then I started making loads of mixes, blend-tapes and just trying to do cool stuff with the turntables, sort of making beats with them by combining bits of records."
"I dropped out of school in ninth grade, school wasn't for me and I knew that I wanted to do music."
When did the production side start?
"I never really even considered producing because I just wanted to be a DJ and I got pretty good. I would enter DJ battles and I even won a few. But what happened was a friend of mine Jeremy 'Cochise' Ball who grew up around the corner from me in Buffalo had a record deal on Payday in '91, '92 I think. He took his money from his deal and bought a pre-production studio for his apartment. I would just go round, sit and watch him make beats and try to figure out what he was doing and absorb it."
When did you get your own kit?
"Well he [Cochise] ended up moving to New York and he left his studio in Buffalo. So I asked if I could borrow the Ensoniq EPS and he reluctantly said 'yes'. I sat at that thing every minute of every day. I'd watched him use it so when it was at my house I just tried to be using it and learning it all the time. When he eventually asked for it back, I just had one mission – to save up and buy my own."
You were 17 at this point, were you at school?
"Nah, I dropped out of school in ninth grade, school wasn't for me and I knew that I wanted to do music. I was already DJing pretty heavily when I was 15 so I wasn't into school, I was more into staying up all night DJing."
When did it start turning into a living?
"The DJ money meant I could save up a bit and buy equipment like the EPS. But it was when I moved to New York City things changed. Living in the city meant I could hustle on a whole new level. Now you'd go to these events and you'd run into people who were in the industry and get access to them."
What was the point you started to get somewhere?
"Two things happened simultaneously – the first was that somehow through an engineer friend of mine the producer Rodney Jerkins had got hold of a cassette of my beats and wanted to buy one for $3,000. I thought this was insane and was easily the most amount of money I'd ever received in one go for anything. I never met the guy, I never found out what happened to the project, just that I sent the disc with the beat on it and I got a cheque in the mail for $3,000. That was one of the moments when I realised I could make money from this, but the real turning point was because a friend of mine in Detroit was interning for D12 and introduced me to Proof while D12 played in New York.
"So when I met Proof from D12, I gave him a CD of my beats and the next day he called me and said he wanted to fly me to Detroit and work with me. So Proof bought a few beats and we worked on some stuff, but he also made a big effort to introduce me to all the Hip Hop guys up in Detroit.One of these was Obie Trice who ended up using two of my beats on his debut album. That was one of the first things I ever had out and it was a huge album. I was 21 at the time and it was just crazy getting involved in this giant album."
It must have been quite a journey.
"Yeah, that led to me kinda getting in and I started going to D&D Studios in New York. This was the studio that became the base of the God that is DJ Premier and one of the famous homes of Hip Hop from guys like M.O.P and all these legendary producers and artists. I was working with Big Daddy Kane at the time and everyone I met I would just follow them around the studio asking them to listen to my beats, and it seemed that most of the guys that I got the chance to play some to, liked them."
You're probably best known now for working with Kid Cudi, but you knew him before, right? Or was this a label that called you and asked you to produce with him?
"No it wasn't a label. As cool as it was making beats for people I'd always wanted to work with a new artist and develop a sound. I had my ear open forsomebody new and exciting that wasn't already caught up in the recording industry and wanted to start from scratch. This was back in the MySpace era and I was constantly looking for new artists and somehow I stumbled upon Kid Cudi's page and I heard Day And Night and it blew me away. It only had a couple of hundred listens and he only had a few friends on his MySpace page but one of them was a guy I know."
Who was doing the production then?
"Cudi lived with a dope new producer at the time called Dot Da Genius and while Cudi was crashing at his crib they worked on these tracks."
So what happened next?
"Well the way I reached out to him was that I noticed in Cudi's top friends he had a guy called Plain Pat. Pat and I go way back, we worked with this cat C-Rayz Walz back in 1999 or something and Pat went on to be A&R at Def Jam.So I called him up and said 'I found this cat on MySpace called Cudi, he's insanely dope and he has you in his top friends – do you know him?' He said that he'd just started working with Cudi and he would bring him to the studio. So when Cudi came to the studio and I played him some beats and Cudi didn't really like any of them. But I knew that Cudi wanted something fresh and together we started to make something that ended up being called Bigger Than You."
When did you start buying hardware synths?
"I was kinda doing the plug-in thing for a while, then I went down the road of the Korg Trinity and Roland Fantoms but just found that I wasn't really using them. Then around seven years ago I got the Studio Electronics SE-1, which is kinda a clone of a Minimoog and it was just awesome.I probably don't use it so much any more, because I used it to death when I first got it. I think every bass sound was from that. Back then, I was also into sampling a lot more. Now, especially when working with Cudi, I can just hit a few chords on the synths and we have the makings of a track right away. It's a different way of making music now compared to how I used to make music three or four years ago."
Whose career do you admire as a producer?
"As a career I really admire Rick Rubin because he started out doing Hip Hop and branched out. I don't really know what the fuck he does but he makes all these brilliant albums, working on anything like Country, Hip Hop or Metal. I love the idea of working across the board and I'd love to sit in a session and see that magic happening."
Looking at your record collection you have everything from Hip Hop to Live Killers by Queen and bizarre Japanese Prog... Maybe in 20 years time you'll end up being the producer of a Japanese Prog Rock band.
[Laughs] "I would absolutely love to. I mean it took going to England and working with Ian Brown, to be able to come back and be prepared with Kid Cudi. I think the more out-the-box artists I can work with the better prepared I am for working with others. I definitely don't want to do the same shit over and over."