On Working With Executive Producer Markus Dravs
Angel Haze: I had no clue of any producers at all before I started working on the album. Even working with Mike Dean and Mayla and all of them, it was so new to me. It was just like, “Oh, you guys did all of my favorite albums, that’s great.” Markus, he actually sought me out strangely. We met on the beach and it was really awkward. He was just like, “I like you. I want to work with you.” I was like, “Well, how do I know that I like you?” And we went back and he was playing me some stuff. I was like, “This shit is whack.” And then he was like, “Oh, you don’t want a Grammy? I’ll just give it to someone else who wants a Grammy.” [Laughs] But we actually instantly meshed. I could say stuff like that to him ’cause he would get it.
In order for me to complete the album and to actually have it at a place where I am ready to put it out in a month and half, it was a big deal to [work with Markus]. I needed militant structure to be able to complete that. With Markus, he’ll call me: “You have to be in the studio at 10 a.m. Not a freakin’ minute later.” Basically, unless I am sick. I was sick like two days out of the whole thing. “You have to do this. You spent seven hours on vocal practices. You spend two hours writing and then you record it. Maybe four.” And that’s what you do before the day is up. There’s nothing on that checklist that didn’t get unchecked.
When I work with these producers, I kind of look towards these people who would be able to take this melting pot of all the things that I like and make it make sense. The album is hip-hop. The album is rock. The album is pop. All that stuff, but it makes sense in that way. That was very important to me. That multifaceted, that diverse—you can’t classify it as rap, as rock, as whatever. It’s cool enough to be all of those things.
“Echelon (It’s My Way)”
Producer: Markus Dravs
AH: It was so hard for me to write. It was one of those things, I went to the studio and I really don’t do well at writing braggdocious raps. I’m totally the least cocky person alive, and it sucks. But it took me a total of two weeks to finish that song and that was the longest song I worked on on my album. I was like, “Dude, I can’t do it. I don’t know what to talk about. Blah, blah, blah.” And then Markus was like, “I guess you could sing a bit.” He goes, “We are going to put you in this box for seven hours and you are going to sing the highs and lows of the chorus.” [I’m] doing all that opera crap you hear on the chorus. We were just like, “Okay, we should make it fun.” I don’t really know how to have fun; I am way too anxious to do it, to be honest. But I tried, and “Echelon” came out. It was fun for me at the moment. And it ended up changing so much. When I listen to the first draft of these songs, I’m just like, “Wow, these sucked. This is trash.” We just kept on honing it and honing it and it came out. But it’s just fun. It’s about fashion.
Producer: Greg Kurstin
AH: Working with Sia, it was insane to me. Again, I didn’t go to her and ask. I am always way too nervous to do that. Actually, I went to the studio and I was working with Greg Kurstin. He was like, “Yeah, do you know who Sia is?” She was like, “Yeah. She wants you to play me this record. She thinks it’s perfect for you.” I was like, “Wait, what? Sia knows who I am? That’s like freaking unbelievable.” We played it and I wrote the song in an hour and we recorded it in the same day and it’s actually still the same draft as that day. It’s just mastered now. It’s cool to have someone of her caliber, especially as a writer, be so interested in what I do. Interested enough to give me one of the best songs I feel she’s ever written.
For me, it’s always important to be the voice for the voiceless. Everything that I do, I mostly do it for a standstance, purely philanthropic. This is 20 percent for me because music is cathartic and therapeutic. But 80 percent for everyone else who doesn’t have anyone to say the stuff that they feel. I don’t know. It’s just for one of those kids who don’t have a voice.