For “Studios Sessions,” we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.
Before LosHendrix co-produced “Good Days,” SZA’s first top 10 single on Billboard 100; or “Walk Em Down,” NLE Choppa and Roddy Ricch’s first and only collaboration, the multifaceted producer was helping shape Brent Faiyaz’s sound.
“He can work with very little. I’ve seen this dude literally beatbox a track and then, like, do a top line over it, and then just get somebody to produce it out later. He’s like Michael Jackson. He don’t really need much to write a record,” LosHendrix revealed to REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the producer discusses impressing SZA with “Good Days,” Faiyaz connecting with his roots in Dominican Republic to record Sonder Son, and going from the studio to the strip club with Kehlani. Read below.
How did you first connect with Brent Faiyaz?
I met him through my boy [Paperboy] Fabe. But, this was early. We really kind of built out Brent... When I met Brent, he had 500 followers. This was about late 2015. Then, he moved out here in 2016. He came and visited, and then he was like, “Man, I want to move out here” while talking to Fabe. Then, I was part of Sonder too, not officially, but I produced on that album. I worked on half of that album with them.
What was Brent’s creative process like early on?
He was still working at Harris Teeter Deli making sandwiches and shit. This is a long time ago, bro. He was definitely more hungry than he is now. Now, he’s more trying to figure out where he’s going next, but I feel like back then he was just kind of eager.
He works off of baselines and shit like that, and kind of just writes the whole song. Then, we produce it out later. He likes simple parts of the song. He doesn’t really cut to beats... Working with Brent made me realize that not every artist worked like that... A lot of them cut records to beats.
His A.M Paradox project from late 2016 was the first project you worked on of his. How’d that come together?
To be completely honest, it wasn’t too much different than how we be moving now because by then, Fabe already had a studio, and then we used to work with Pablo Dylan a little more back then. So a couple of records were done at his spot and he has a great space, obviously, because grandpa’s fucking Bob Dylan. So, this fool literally got like a C800 in his crib and like fucking Barefoot [Sound Studio Monitors] and shit in the garage.
Then we were working out of Fabe’s. My studio wasn’t really up and running yet. I had no mic, you know what I mean? But by the time Sonder Son came ‘round, I had my mic and everything. I realized I was going to need to start cutting vocals, so I bought a nice mic — a decent one — and that was actually the mic that we used in [Dominican Republic] when we went and recorded Sonder Son. Most of Sonder Son was done there. We were down there for a whole month.
What was the decision behind going down there to record Sonder Son? How did recording there affect the music?
I think Brent’s dad is Dominican or half Dominican. Brent was like, “Yo, I want to get in touch with my roots.” We were all like, “Yeah, let’s fucking go to DR and do the project.” Going into the DR, we probably had like four songs on the project. I think we had “Talk 2 U” already, and then Fabe had “All I Want” and “L.A.” ...I did “Burn One” and that shit was done. Down there, we did “Missin Out,” we did “First World Problemz/Nobody Carez,” the intro, “Gang Over Luv,” “Stay Down.” Basically half the album we had and then the other half, we did down there.
How would you describe what you provided to Sonder Son and some other Brent classics?
To be honest, it was just like I just wrote a lot of the chords. Then, I just added my sauce like my pedals and stuff. Mostly that. The only one that I produced on the whole thing with the drums and everything was “Talk 2 U.” But everything else, the other homies were doing drums and shit, and then I was doing the music.
My favorite Brent song on that project is “Gang Over Luv.” How did that come together?
Nascent was pulling up his computer to start working with Brent, and literally plugged his computer in, and then literally started playing a beat that he had made in Atlanta. It was like a whole different beat, but it had those drums and Brent was like, “Yo, those drums are crazy.” He’s like, “Yo, can you mute the whole music and just like play the drums?” Nascent was like, “OK, bet.” Brent wrote the song to the drums and then played the bass over it himself. Then Dpat added that little guitar sounds.
What would you say is the quickest song you two did together?
Probably “Burn One” to be honest. “Talk 2 U” literally took six months to finish. He wrote this shit quickly, but he only wrote a verse and a hook quickly, and then was like, “I’mma produce that shit a different time and shit.”
Why did the song take six months to be made?
It was just between making the project. Basically, he did a verse and hook, and then in DR, he did the second verse, but then we hadn’t done the bridge yet. Then, we came back on and we talked about it, and he was like, “Yo, let’s put a bridge.” And then we went to my crib and then I recorded him on the bridge... We finished the record and then came back, and then I added a couple more bits of music. Literally, I added like two bits of music to that record the week I was submitting it to get mixed. I texted Jeff like, “Yo, actually here’s two stems, put this in.” That’s why I said it took six to eight months to make the record because I literally finished it that week. But, “Burn One,” I literally made that shit, and he damn near freestyled the motherfucker. Literally I play the guitar and he just went in there and just went crazy.
What does he need in the studio?
It ain’t really nothing crazy, man. I mean, it’s just weed (laughs). Now, it’s just weed. He kind of just needs the people that he’s working with. But, he can work with very little. I’ve seen this dude literally beatbox a track and then like do a top line over it, and then just get somebody to produce it out later. He’s like Michael Jackson. He don’t really need much to write a record.
What’s a really memorable session?
There’s a few, man. I ain’t going to lie. “Talk 2 U” one was crazy. That one was really crazy, I ain’t going to lie. I think Alina Baraz had actually come to that session before she was lit. This was like a while earlier. I didn’t even know who the fuck she was... When he did that one, I was like, “Oh, this one’s really nuts.” I was like, “I have to deliver on this because I felt it.”
I saw you in a studio session with Giveon and some heavy hitters like Seven Thomas and Boi-1da. How’d you find yourself there?
Actually, it’s funny, man. I met Seven at backstage of the Daniel Caesar concert in 2018... We didn’t really tap in, but then it was funny because like six to eight months later, in 2019, I had a trainer and Seven had the same trainer. So, literally I used to see him in the gym and we would just chop it up. He knew I did all the Brent shit, so he was just like, “Oh man, you’re fucking fire bro, let’s connect. I got this kid Giveon.” He sent me “Like I Want You” to show me what it was and how he sounded. I was like, “Oh, his record’s fire. This is dope.” He was like, “Actually, I want you to help him finish this record.” Our first session was me adding all the additional shit to “Like I Want You.” After that, he just did a camp for Giveon. It was literally the most industry planned camp ever in life because Seven knows everybody and they got this kid that has this crazy voice, and he got like all the best writers and all the best producers in one fucking place (laughs). I mean, everybody came to that motherfucker. Boi-1da was in there, WondaGurl, Jahaan Sweet, fucking Rogét [Chahayed]. It was literally like all the latest motherfuckers were in there.
The current producers that are out right now, probably 75 percent of the dopest guys were there. I think T-Minus came through. It was all types of people. Nija [Charles] was in there writing, and then Marcus Semaj and Varren Wade. It was crazy. It was all for Giveon. I was just like, “Damn, they pulling out the stops.” But, I heard the music that we were making and I was like, “This sounds like a moment.” It just sounded like something that was really dope. Especially that first project. The second one was more Giveon writing.
I saw a photo of you playing guitar around Kehlani when you working with her. What is her creative process like?
She’s dope. We have worked a couple of times, but I would say when we really tapped in was in Vegas. We went to Vegas to do her project, and she flew us all out there and we were all chilling. She was kind of lit, I ain’t going to lie. This was pre-COVID obviously, too, so...we all hit the strip club and shit... It was was a vibe.
How was it working together again?
Well, the session that you saw the pictures of was when we were doing “Everybody Business” and that one was real organic. I was sitting there and we wrote the guitar parts. It could have been like a Brent session with the way we did that shit. I’d write some shit and she was just like, “Oh, that’s fire.” Then, we started working towards it. She was like, “Actually, you should do some shit where you record it over your phone and make it sound Lo-fi and shit.” I did that shit and then I blended it in with the other guitar that I had in there. Then I started producing and GRiZ did some drums, and then I kind of like put everything in.
Did you produce SZA’s classic “Good Days”?
Yeah, I did. Basically, it was just me and Nascent, and by the time she heard it, Carter [Lang] played the beat me and Nascent made, and she cut to it, and did a lot of it to that beat. Then, later she got Jacob Collier on it and then finished it. Right before we put it out, Carter finally was like, “Alright, I’m going to add some extra shits in it.” Really, he added like strings and flute, and a couple little sounds... It’s funny because I wrote that idea for another artist and they passed on it, and then literally me and Nascent finished the beat, and it wound up getting it to SZA.
What do you have coming up in 2021?
I got a couple of joints with Choppa that’s coming through crazy. We got this one joint, and they’re getting someone special on there, man. Then, we got “Walk Em Down (Part 2)” with a different beat. They’re doing that and they got Durk on it. I’ve heard that is fire and it’s dope. I’ve been tapped in with Don Toliver, too. That’s going to be fire. Don’s about to do a number on the game... To me, he one of the best. From what I’ve heard, SZA’s shit is also good, and she’s cut a couple more songs. I haven’t heard them, but I heard they’re fire.