Whether or not you’re familiar with his name, it’s likely that you’ve heard the sounds of Emile Haynie. His heartstring-tugging instrumentals have given a canvas to some of the world’s biggest artists from Kanye West and Eminem to Lana Del Rey and Bruno Mars. After years helping to deliver the visions of other artists, the Grammy award winning producer spent six months of last year holed up in legendary Los Angeles hotel the Chateau Marmont indulging in his own emotions for a change. The stay acted as therapy to get Haynie through a difficult break-up, and in his time there he created We Fall, a sensitive collaboration-filled record that features many of his closest friends including Lana Del Rey, Lykke Li, Sampha, Devonte Hynes and Romy Madley Croft of The xx.
“I was so engulfed in hip-hop that I just didn’t really think about it much,” admits Haynie, when asked if he’d ever imagined making such an emotional, concept-driven record. After all, the Emile that started hustling out in Buffalo, NY would probably have been pretty shocked to find himself sat behind a piano writing songs with Randy Newman. A scroll through his early production credits throws up an impressive list of underground rap veterans. His early-2000s were spent passing out beat CDs and placing instrumentals with the likes of Raekwon, Cormega, Ghostface Killah, AZ, Proof, Obie Trice and C-Rayz Walz. “You know what,” he offers after pausing to consider for a second. “I did always love Portishead. I loved that it sounded like hip-hop and they used samples and it was a little bit left of centre, but then they had this beautiful haunting singer on it. But I didn’t spend too much time thinking on it. That was the only thing that I thought I could get into beyond like working on the new Ghostface album.”