Jeff Bhasker: "I started playing keyboards in Kanye's band around the time Graduation was released. I was friends with Kanye's DJ, A-Trak, and they needed someone to fill in on keyboards. I was producing at the time—my first cut was the title song on The Game's first album—so I was trying to make my name as a producer. I thought it was a cool opportunity to do a live thing and Kanye was awesome. I started from there, but eventually I became his musical director.
We would be writing songs together, but a lot of times we would start with just the piano, a vocal idea, and a drum beat and take it from there.
"Then he started inviting me to the studio to work on his records. Being his keyboard player, we did a lot of stuff. You might remember his SNL performance when it's broken down to just piano and him rapping—that was a good foundation that we built on collaborating because we would get in the studio and just start with the piano.
"The first album of his I worked on was 808s and Heartbreaks. We would be writing songs together, but a lot of times we would start with just the piano, a vocal idea, and a drum beat. We'd take it from there."