Lykke Li Discusses Sex, Love, and Rock and Roll With Her Favorite Producer Emile Haynie

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EMILE HAYNIE, A GRAMMY-WINNING producer originally from Buffalo, New York, won a Grammy for best rap album in 2010 for Eminem’s Recovery, then went on to co-produce Kanye West’s hit single “Runaway.” From there he ventured into pop. After working with artists like Fun. and Bruno Mars, as well as producing Lana Del Rey’s breakout album, Born to Die, Haynie made the decision to follow his dreams and record his own solo album, We Fall. Deeply personal, it features guest appearances by his famous and talented friends, including Brian Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Lykke Li. Here in conversation, Lykke Li and Haynie share an intimate discussion about the creative fuel of heartbreak, the sacrifices of an artist, and the state of the music industry today.

LYKKE LI: Emile, what’s your current state of mind?

EMILE HAYNIE: For the fi rst time, happy. It’s weird. I’ve never had to put out my own record before so it’s this strange ball of anxiety that’s been brewing for the year I’ve been making it. It comes out today and I actually woke up at 7:30.

LL: Your album was sprung out of heartbreak — would you say you still feel heartbroken right now? Do you still believe in love?

EH: It’s not broken, but it’s taped together. And yes, more so than ever.

LL: So what is love to you? Would this album have been made if you hadn’t had your heart broken? Do you think there’s a correlation between heartbreak and creativity?

EH: Love is a complete combination of acceptance and joy from whatever is loved, whether it’s a song or a family member. Looking back, the funny thing is that when I was supposedly in love, I wasn’t doing anything I was excited about. It was getting out of it that made me excited about my work again, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time. I was just drowned in heartbreak.

LL: Would you say it was all worth it?

EH: I hope so. I do wonder if I’ll let myself get to that place again. I got hurt and fucked over and now I put up this guard, but I hope I can take it down again.

LL: It’s really interesting that you surround yourself with flowers, because they represent healing. Also, a flower grows from seed to flower and then eventually dies, so it’s a cycle, just like love and creativity. Do you think you’ve come out of this a stronger person? Is love worth fighting for?

EH: Stronger is an understatement. And yeah, love is the only thing that’s really worth physically fighting for.

LL: An album is a great way to examine heartbreak and also get to know yourself and what you want. Do you wonder if you find love that you won’t make another album?

EH: I’d love to make an album about how in love I am.

LL: Talking from experience, that does not work.

EH: Is that not possible?

LL: No, you just get fat and watch TV.

EH: I’m down to get fat, watch TV, and write some shitty, cheesy songs.

LL: Who’s your dream date?

EH: Rosario Dawson. I’ve always loved her.

LL: She’s hot.

EH: Yeah, and just cool.

LL: And do you practice safe sex?

EH: Yes, of course, every single time. I wouldn’t dream of not doing that.

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LL: There’s always a trade-off for paradise, right? Do you feel like you’ve made a lot of sacrifices to be where you are creatively?

EH: Yeah. I look at my friends, the guys I grew up with in Buffalo — who are a bit older than me, so it’s maybe unfair to compare myself — but they’ve already figured out their home life. They have these beautiful families, and they’re so good to them. I have a lot of guilt for not being a better family member. I grew up with cats who make music, and they still do and are cool with it, but they love their kids way more. They’re amused by what I do but it’s not an “I wish I was doing that” kind of vibe. I want to have kids — but can you do both? Some people have kids and manage their career and work but put their family first and are able to exist in both worlds. Not everyone is that kind of person, but I hope I am.

LL: What is your motto on life and in art?

EH: At age 34, these last couple of years are the first time in my life that I’ve felt comfortable and secure in what I’m good at. And more importantly, it’s also knowing what I’m not good at. I don’t feel regret or loss or missing out if I turn down working on something that isn’t me, even though it might be massive, if I’m not comfortable. I feel no guilt. Before, I forced myself to do things I wouldn’t necessarily want to do.

LL: What made you take the step from making beats to writing songs and singing? How did you pick all your collaborators?

EH: I’ve always loved melody. I grew up doing hip-hop and loved making beats, but wanted more. I’ve always loved collecting these old records and taking parts of them
and turning them into hip-hop songs, but I’ve always had the urge to make the music myself. I wanted to figure out, like, why am I attracted to David Axelrod and old choirs and fuzz guitar and mellotrons. I never knew how to make it myself, so I would take it from other sources. But now, I’ve sort of figured out how to do it on my own. Most of my collaborators are people I’m around — my true friends who are actually also some of my favorite singers in the world, which is a really lucky coincidence. Then I have a few other heroes that I really felt like were important to get. I was listening and studying their music so much, like Randy Newman and Brian Wilson.

LL: A lot of artists are in L.A. now. What do you think attracts so many artists here?

EH: L.A. is an escape. I’m a New Yorker; I was there for 16 years but started to get a bit fatigued by the way the city operates. You get weirdly addicted to New York and having constant access to everything you want, which at first was such a beautiful thing but then kind of got in the way of what I should have been doing. The beauty of L.A. is being able to just focus on how nice the light is and how it makes you want to sit around and write songs.

LL: If you could live anywhere, where would
you live?

EH: Strangely, I would want to live here. I want to live up on a hill with a view and a hammock. I used to have this dream of the perfect downtown Manhattan scene, but now I want to garden and cook and grow rosemary and have a hammock.

LL: What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t making music?

EH: I’d be working with interiors. I love old, vintage furniture. I think it’s my mom’s fault. She was always obsessed with classic furniture and design. Growing up in Buffalo, there’s a famous Frank Lloyd Wright house not far from where I grew up and we would always go to that. The first cool chair I had was this Charles Pollock chair from the 1960s that my mom picked out of the garbage from uptown Manhattan. She doesn’t buy these things; she finds them. She’s a treasure hunter.

LL: Something I experience a lot, is that after a period of making and writing songs, the world completely opens itself again. Are you sad now that the process of making your
album is done?

EH: Yeah, today I woke up so happy that it came out, but also a bit like, “Aw, the ride is over.” I imagine that’s what it’s like when you do your last show from a tour. You wake up and you’re like, “That was so amazing, but what the fuck do I do now?”

LL: Yeah, it’s a separation anxiety.

EH: You seem to have it all figured out. I really envy you: I’ve never seen you stagnant or unhealthy. I’ve never heard you repeat yourself and I’ve never seen you appear bored.

LL: Wow, that’s great. I am curious about life. If you could have anyone in the world, dead or alive, over for a dinner party, who would you choose?

EH: Besides you?

LL: We have so many friends that we love, but I would also have Bob Marley and Joan Didion.

EH: Bob Marley is a pretty good guest.

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LL: You and I have shared a lot of good meals together.

EH: We had lunch when we met and then you made me get up and change my seat like 14 times. You were trying to find the perfect seat. I figured out who you were right off the bat. You just wanted the perfect light where you sat. I thought it was cool.

LL: I am fucking cool. And then what happened?

EH: I think we talked about making music and we talked about food more than anything. We talked about having dinner parties, because I’d go on about how much I cook.

LL: Yeah and then I guess you asked me, “Hey do you want to sing on this song?” No, it wasn’t really like that. I just came in. I remember you had a little hook and I came into this wonderful room. There’s a view, there’s flowers, and just a natural vibe.

EH: Yeah, but you rewrote the hook, though. You made it cooler.

LL: It seems like music in general now, and especially this year, is at a low point. Maybe that’s too negative.

EH: When it comes to award shows and that sort of thing, people are scared to be weird.

LL: I don’t know if they’re scared, it’s just the industry is scared.

EH: That’s what I mean. But isn’t the best ratings and stuff when people go crazy and there’s weird scenes happening and something’s completely inappropriate? I don’t really get it.

LL: Do you want to be famous?

EH: I would like to be known. If you make music, you put it out publicly, so of course you want the public to recognize it. There are so many different levels of fame but I don’t think I’d be comfortable with much more than that. I want the public to hear it; I want them to know I made it.

LL: So Tom Petty or Sam Smith?

EH: Tom Petty. I love Sam Smith,
though.

LL: Iggy Azalea or Azealia Banks?

EH: Iggy Azalea.

LL: Lykke Li or Lady Gaga?

EH: Lykke Li. Can I ask you why you have such a morbid sense of humor?

LL: Because I’m Swedish.

EH: Is that what Swedish people do?

LL: Yeah. So how many times would you say your parties get shut down? There are a lot of parties.

EH: Well, that’s because it’s like the anti-party. It’s weird being a behind-the-scenes dude who works heavily in the music business, and then you get invited to go to some big red carpet party and you might not get let in by security because they have no idea who you are.

LL: Has Miley Cyrus ever been to one of your parties?

EH: I think so. Is that the most juicy fuckin’ tidbit you could pull out, has Miley Cyrus been to my parties?

LL: What do you think are the benefits of smoking?

EH: It makes you look a lot cooler when
you’re doing an interview.

LL: Who would you say is your style icon?

EH: Sean Connery. But of course, now there’s also Gérard Depardieu. I want to look like Gérard Depardieu when I get to be his age.

LL: Last question: How important do you think ergonomic footwear is?

EH: Actually, I think it’s extremely important. This interview would’ve gone completely awry had we not had ergonomic footwear to support it.

LL: It’s fairly comfortable in this day and age. Comfortable style. What’s more important to you: style or comfort, or just both?

EH: Style.

15 Concerts to See This Week: Wombats, Waxahatchee + More

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From Waxahatchee and the Wombats to Crocodiles and Kaiser Chiefs, check out the 15 concerts you should be checking out around the country this week.

Friday, March 24

French dance wunderkind Madeon heads to NYC’s Webster Hall for two shows tonight. The pop prodigy released his debut album Adventure earlier this year. 6:30pm, 125 E 11th St, New York, NY.

New wave-inspired dream-pop act Suburban Living‘s self-titled album is the perfect accompaniment for melancholy spring days. Check out the Philadelphia-based artist tonight at Pianos, along with Starlight Girls, Spirit Haus, and more. 8pm, 158 Ludlow St, New York, NY.

Boston psych-punks Guerrilla Toss feature at the free show at Brooklyn Night Bazaar tonight, along with Moss Icon, Beech Creeps, and more. Guerrilla Toss will also appear at Shea Stadium tomorrow. 7pm, 165 Banker St, Brooklyn, NY.

Questionably face-tattooed rapper Yelawolf celebrates his new album Love Story with an in-store at Rough Trade in Brooklyn. 6:30pm, 64 N 9th St, Brooklyn, NY.

Saturday, April 25

Boston indie rockers Speedy Ortiz take the stage at Bowery Ballroom tonight, following the release of new album Foil Deer. Frontwoman Sadie Dupuis’s declaration of “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss” on “Raising The Skate” is already one of 2015′s most indelible deliveries. Fast-rising singer and songwriter Mitski opens up the night, along with Krill. 8pm, 6 Delancey St, New York, NY.

End the week dancing as Museum Of Love bring their muscular grooves to Good Room in Brooklyn tonight. Their self-titled album came out last year on DFA Records.

Party like it’s 2006 as UK faves Kaiser Chiefs team up with We Are Scientists tonight at the Wiltern. 7pm, 3790 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA.

Sunday, April 26

Good-humored British indie rock staples the Wombats play a matinée show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn this afternoon. Grab a copy of their new album Glitterbug to get in. They’re also playing at Webster Hall tomorrow. 1:30pm, 64 N 9th St, Brooklyn, NY.

Monday, April 27

Kitsuné presents the show at Baby’s All Right tonight, featuring their signings Buscabulla and Beau as well as Mother. Make sure to get some waffles beforehand for the full Dan Humphrey experience. 9pm, 146 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY.

Catch some sunny alt-pop courtesy of Lucius at Music Hall Of Williamsburg tonight and find out what they’ve been up to since releasing their album Wildewoman two years ago. 8pm, 66 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY.

Tuesday, April 28

It is Tuesday, so clearly the only option is to see iLoveMakonnen tonight. The club’s going up at Bowery Ballroom, and he’ll be accompanied by Key! and Sonny Digital. He’ll also be appearing at Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow. 8pm, 6 Delancey St, New York, NY.

Waxahatchee’s on the road following the release of critically acclaimed album Ivy Tripp, and she stops at the Roxy tonight. The Merge Records artist will be accompanied tonight by Girlpool, whose defiant and detail-oriented approach to songwriting is sure to make you feel a little more alive. 8:30pm, 9009 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA.

Dream-pop darling Empress Of hits Elvis Guesthouse tonight every night for the rest of this week. The New York-based artist recently released new single “Water Water” on Terrible Records. 8pm, 85 Ave A, New York, NY.

Wednesday, April 29

Glam-punk duo Crocodiles heads to Union Pool tonight. Get on your best leather jacket and watch the SoCal band preview tracks from their upcoming album Boys. 9pm, 484 Union Ave, Brooklyn, NY.

Dark pop duo MS MR are gearing up for their to-be-announced second album, following 2013′s Secondhand Rapture. Find out what they’ve been working on at an intimate show at Rough Trade tonight. 8pm, 64 N 9th St, Brooklyn, NY.

Premiere: Hear Jon DeRosa’s Earthy New Song ‘Coyotes’

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Photo by Ivy August

If you’re familiar with New York-based musical collective Aarktica, you’ll be excited to hear that its principal member, Jon DeRosa, will be releasing a solo album called Black Halo on May 25th. Now based in Los Angeles, DeRosa recorded half of the album in New York before relocating to the Golden State, where the change in atmosphere helped to reinvigorate the singer. He began to see things he’d never witnessed before on the regular, such as a pack of coyotes that often waited in his driveway as he returned from work.

Premiering here, the first single off of Black Halo reminds us of how masterfully DeRosa can take unexpected and beautiful melodic turns with his earthy, baritone voice. With a warm, West Coast ambiance, “Coyotes” is about a connection to nature, something that DeRosa was markedly more capable of discovering after moving away from the concrete jungle. Check out the track below, as well as more on DeRosa here.

Premiere: Get Ready for Summer with Pree’s New Track ‘Hi-Livin’

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With the exciting spring sun beginning to shine and its absences too often filled with demoralizing rain, we’re still getting teased a bit in the Northeast. DC quartet Pree’s latest single “Hi-Livin” perhaps inadvertently catches the sonic feel of being on summer’s cusp, with its buoyant, tribal percussion and steel guitar-infused, psychedelic pop vibes mixed with the subdued, unpredictable voice of lead singer May Tabol

The track is the latest from the group’s upcoming sophomore album Rima (which takes its name from geological fissures in the Moon), out May 5th via Paper Garden Records. Check out the new tune below, and more from Pree here

Chatting with The Wombats as They Kick Off Their North American Tour

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Photo by Matilda Finn

Four years after the release of their second album The Modern Glitch, Liverpool-based rockers The Wombats put out their third effort Glitterbug on April 7th. Comprised of front man Matthew “Murph” Murphy, bassist Tod Øverland Knudsen and drummer Dan Haggins, the band has lost no momentum over the years despite the temporary lack of new work, thanks mostly to the hundreds of thousands of staunch fans that continue to cheer them on.

As they kick off their North American Tour tonight in Toronto, we’re is celebrating by chatting with Murphy about the new album, a fictional romance he created for lyrical fodder, and the anxieties of living in major cities. Check out our conversation below, and make sure to see when they’ll be playing near you.

How is this new album different than the last two?

I wanted to go back to a first album’s atmosphere lyrically. However, I wanted it to be very colorful and we wanted to progress further musically…essentially this album is about pinpointing what it is about the band that I love.

How did Los Angeles inspire the album?

Aside from Liverpool and London, Los Angeles was the place that I had spent the most time in. We recorded the second album there. This album is part fictional relationship in Los Angeles, and part real relationship; it’s a tale of two cities and city life in general.

You’ve mentioned how a big city like LA can encompass envy, worry, fear, etc. Can you expand on this a bit?

In big cities everyone is looking for their big break to get ahead. Whether that is spiritually or financially. Places like London, LA & New York can have a happy facade in the mind’s eye, but underneath they are very cut throat and have a darker side. A lot of the album is about managing the two at once.

What was it like recording this album when not all of the band mates were physically together?

Technically we did record all together in Battersea, London, and I would always travel back to Liverpool to meet up with Dan and Tord. It was the writing process that was more separated, and with the aid of the Internet, Dan and Tord could send me ideas easily if they had them.

When you write music, what are some of your goals?

Songwriting has always been a very cathartic process for me, but the main goal is always to write something truly honest, and from the heart. No matter how much trouble it can get you into…!

What are the best and worst parts of being on tour?

Getting to play in front of thousands of screaming Wombats fans is obviously the best part. We are very lucky in that respect. But touring in general can be very exhausting on the mind and body.

Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?

Yes, we all embrace one another and shake hands formally!

What other acts have been popping up in 2015 that you’re a fan of?

The bands who have been out supporting us on our European Tour have been great. We’ve had Team Me from Norway, Darlia, Compny, Jenn D, and Sundara Karma. We are looking forward to checking out Cheerleader and Life in Film on our US Tour.

Premiere: Hear Gosh Pith’s New Track ‘Child’

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Einstein said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Having met as children in the late 90s while camping in Algonquin Park, only to stumble upon each other once again ten years later in the streets of Paris, Josh Freed and Josh Smith of Gosh Pith are keeping up the big guy’s guise. Song’s like “Window” and the group’s masterful blend of divergent sounds to form what they call “Cosmic Trap” has made Gosh Pith one of the most blogged about bands this year. We already asked the guys to use their eclectic, genre-bending taste to put together one of our better Guest DJ sets, and are exciting to premiere the flourishing duo’s latest track, “Child.” It’s a more stripped down, lullaby-esque sound than their more predominant work, fortifying the band’s aptitude for versatility. Check out their new single below, and expect the groups debut EP out later this year. 

Premiere: Hear Ambrosia Parsley’s Smoldering New Track ‘Empire’

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Slide into the week with this new track from Ambrosia Parsley. The Shivaree singer is gearing up to release her debut solo album Weeping Cherry, and she’s sharing “Empire” before it comes out later this month. At first listen, it’s a crisply minimalist challenge to the singer-songwriter genre, but play it a few more times and you’ll hear all the glimmering details that keep it interesting. Parsley’s voice hovers somewhere between matter-of-fact and melancholic, and it’s bolstered by bluesy guitar licks that keep the track smoldering. Keep an eye out forWeeping Cherry when it comes out April 28, showcasing her talents in a whole new way.