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.
Engineer Christopher “Sauce Miyagi” Haynes does more than mix records, he gives them life. He has worked with Hitmaka to craft hits, mixed Fabolous’ entire Summertime Shootout 3 album, and has been in studio sessions that most people dream of.
“This one day we had Lil Dicky come at 2 p.m. and leave by about 5 [p.m.] or 6 [p.m.]. Then, Jeremih came for two or three hours. By the time he was ready to leave, Ty Dolla $ign showed up and they did a song together,” Sauce Miyagi told REVOLT. “By the time Jeremih left…Drake showed up. Drake walked in and now it’s Ty Dolla $ign, Drake; and Nelly was on the way.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the acclaimed engineer explains how Fabolous and Nipsey Hussle’s recording processes are similar, flying to Hawaii to work with A Boogie, and working with Jeremih during the pandemic. Read below.
In your first three months living in L.A. in 2016, you linked up with Hitmaka. How was it working with him?
It was cool. I’m not working with him anymore. Hitmaka brings a lot of songs to people that are already done and all they need to do is hop on and say exactly what’s there. That’s why a lot of people like him — the whole sound and the movement. Even the demos don’t seem like demos or reference tracks. That’s where he got the bulk of his respect. A&R and different labels would come to him like, “Yo, we need a new single,” and we’ll do it from top to bottom. All they have to do is put a verse on it and it’s a hit already. Big Sean, Wiz [Khalifa], Ty Dolla $ign, Jeremih, and a lot of people would come over. The songs would be done already and they’d just hop on.
Speaking of Big Sean, I saw a picture of you, him, Malibu Mitch, and Hitmaka in the studio. What was that session like?
I don’t think he needed a song at the time. But, he wanted to check out Malibu Miitch and what she had going on. At the time, Hitmaka had just signed her to Atlantic Records. We were at Glenwood [Place Recording Studios] in Burbank. Damn near every day we had Studio B and C where it would be either Wiz or Sean and Studio A would be Nicki Minaj. You were bound to bump into somebody.
What was the most star-studded session you’ve been in?
It wasn’t one session, it was an entire day. This one day we had Lil Dicky come at 2 p.m. and leave by about 5 [p.m.] or 6 [p.m.]. Then, Jeremih came for two or three hours. By the time he was ready to leave, Ty Dolla $ign showed up and they did a song together. By the time Jeremih left…Drake showed up. Drake walked in and now it’s Ty Dolla $ign, Drake; and Nelly was on the way. That was a crazy night. I don’t really trip on the who’s in the room because when you start doing that, you put too much pressure on yourself. I look at them as regular people. We used to put the headphones on so nobody would hear the song. I didn’t even know Drake walked into the room. I was just recording Ty with my headphones.
What’s the longest session you’ve ever been in?
We started at noon with Jessie J. That session went from noon to about 5 or 6 at night. It was Hitmaka and me, then a few songwriters showed up to do a few demos. In the process of doing those demos, French Montana showed up and ended up doing “No Stylist” with us and about two or three other joints. French or A1 from “Love & Hip-Hop” didn’t want to let me leave, so I was in the sessions until nine in the morning.
Why didn’t they want you to leave?
A lot of people trust me. Anybody that’s recorded with me can vouch that it’s not just recording. I’m puzzle-piecing the whole song together while you’re recording. I’m there putting certain stuff you wouldn’t think were supposed to go right there. For the Drake and Ty Dolla $ign song “Jaded,” that little effect that’s on Ty Dolla $ign’s voice is the echo voice. I’m the only one that uses that echo voice because I learned that from Wiz Khalifa’s producer Ricky P. He taught me that back in 2015. I put it on Ty’s background and they kept it. Ty was like, “Yo, this s**t is dope.” On Jeremih and Ty’s song “The Light,” the “okay cool” [adlib] was my whole idea. They weren’t even thinking about it. Artists would say something and then be like, “Okay, cool.” That’s what happened. Eric Bellinger did the demo and he was like, “Okay, cool,” and I was like, “That’s dope as hell. You need to keep that.”
How many songs did Ty and Jeremih record for that MihTy album from 2018?
We had roughly over 70 songs for that album that will probably never come out unless there’s a MihTy 2 (laughs). We had Lil Wayne features on there. We were trying to get Kendrick [Lamar] on a song. There was a lot of stuff on that album. The album went from 21 songs to 17 to 14 songs to 11 songs.
You’ve also worked extensively with Fabolous. How’d you two link up?
The first time I was supposed to meet Fab was in New York. He was supposed to come to Jungle City because Atlantic [Records] would always put him at Jungle City. We would always go there and have sessions. Just as [Hitmaka] was signing Malibu to Atlantic, we had one more day in New York, and he was like, “I’m going to try to get Fab to come to the studio.” Fab never came because they had to go to an event. But, when we went back to L.A., Fab just came to our studio. Normally, most people don’t know me. Fab didn’t mind recording with me, but when he recorded with me, he started realizing, “Yo, this kid is dope. He got the sauce.” That’s all Fab would say to me, “Yo, you got the sauce. You’re really nice with it.”
What’s his recording process like?
He reminds me of a Nipsey Hussle. It depends on the situation, but if Fab is ready to attack a song right now, he’ll attack it right now, but he can take days or months. He’ll give you a nice verse and then sit on the second verse for a month and a half. Or if he doesn’t know how to attack it at all, it could take months. On his album Summertime Shootout 3, he had the “Time” song for at least six months because he didn’t know how to attack it. He didn’t know what direction he wanted to take. We were 90% done with the album and he still hadn’t finished “Time.” Nipsey would do the same thing. Nipsey would take days and months to finish one verse.
You’ve also recorded around the world, specifically in Hawaii for A Boogie wit da Hoodie.
We did the whole Hoodie SZN out there. He didn’t want to take demos. Every time Hitmaka would come up to him like, “I got these songs,” he would go, “My name is Artist. I don’t take demos.” Eventually, his A&R convinced him to do it and he was like, “If we’re going to finish my album, and y’all want me to start taking demos, then we’re going to do it where I want to do it at.” So, they flew us out to Hawaii for a week and we cooked up demos. Then, eventually, towards the end of that week, there were more songwriters that started to come out. PNB Rock came and started to help out with demos. My homie AJ (Ruined My Record), who is A Boogie’s main engineer, he was there. The demos we were cooking up, A Boogie was loving them. So, he took “Startender,” the “Right Back” joint that’s on [Artist 2.0]. “Look Back At It” was already done, but it was sort of like a freestyle. Hitmaka and I reformatted that in his hotel room.
Are you still working during this pandemic?
I just left Jeremih’s house on Tuesday (July 7). I’m going back tomorrow because we’re working on demos and a few things. It’s been pretty cool. I don’t be handshaking people to begin with. Music don’t really stop because this is our job and our life.