Interview: Faze Miyake Is Ready For Take-Off

The Family Tree-linked producer is about to change the electronic landscape with his forthcoming debut album.

Images via Meinke Klein

Googling Faze Miyake throws up some extensive and varied search results. A big hitter on the grime forums, one significant Tim & Barry short showcases the Illford-based producer constructing an entire track live on camera in ten minutes and one take. Entirely chilled-out about the business of music, operating his Ableton and keyboard production tools with impressive flair and seemingly effortless finesse, the fast-flowing intensity which underpins Faze's music benefits from his short creative attention span. Remaining focused on the sound he nurtures, independent from the influence of others, the Family Tree associate turns down big-money fees from commercial major label talent to allow his path to remain progressive to his own personal musical ideologies.

Fresh from rendering and pressing his self-titled debut album—featuring Little Simz, Sasha Go Hard, Family Tree and more—Miyake's multi-faceted music parallels the place he's arrived at in life at this moment; an accumulation of his greatest moments on deck distilled from his preferred environment: deep in the club. Dark and sharp, the quality of each track's profound and precise impact separates Faze from any movement or artist mirroring his current output. His production skills reflect a deep, intellectual understanding of what his supporters enjoy about the immersive feelings his music promotes: riled-up energy, attitude, and bare flow. An iconic figure across the bass scene, Faze focuses on maintaining and progressing the London culture that raised him, allowing him to remain blind to the allure of other compromising financial rewards that could detract from his already powerful presence.

Since dropping the now-classic Take Off EP in 2011, Miyake's loyal followers have been intently awaiting the new and original material which now surfaces on the self-titled LP, out on October 2. Taking a break from working in his home-built studio, Complex hit up the bearded beat-maker to discuss the future of grime, rap, and everything beyond. 

Interview by Milly McMahon

Is this album a reflection of your discography to date, or is the material entirely new?
It's mainly been pieced together as I've worked through the year, but there's a lot of older material on there as well. I make a lot of beats, and half the time, they don't even leave my computer or get sent out. The work flow is weird; I like to make music pretty quick. I don't spend too much time on one thing. So working on the album was piecing all these beats together, a one-by-one thing where I worked with one artist and showed them a sound and then a succession of other beats. After I worked with the artists and knew what was going on the album, I went back to them and worked on them a bit more to come to where it is now—finished.

When you edited down the content, was there a concept behind the album as a whole?
To be honest, shaping up the the album just included the best beats. There was a lot of stuff that was meant to be on there and isn't now. It's my first album and I have a lot more to do yet—so I didn't over-think it. Whatever I enjoyed just shaped the album for everybody. There's a tune on there for every type of person who listens to every type of music, so musically, the whole album is still very me and what people know me for. 

Have you always approached music as creative output, or is your attitude to it a bit more business-orientated? 
A bit of both, really. I studied business and media in college, so it's about using what I learnt from that and applying it into the music. Business and music has to work hand-in-hand. It's not healthy to just be good at music and be ignorant of money. There's so many ways to monetize music these days, especially with how the internet works, but everyone just needs to use their common sense with it. When you know you'll be signing a contract, you have to be aware that you need a lawyer. When it's small-time, you have to use your common sense and get your hustle on.

How did your label, Woofer, come to fruition?
I started that label because I saw an opportunity, and I've always wanted to do my own thing independently. When I dropped my track, "Take Off", that broke me through to the whole music industry. I didn't have any labels coming at me, so I wanted to push it out myself. I put it out on Woofer and people have looked out for the label ever since. I haven't released anything on Woofer lately, though, apart from a USB with twenty tracks on it. That was all about fun, just to see what I could do. I wanted to do that for about two years, and now that my album's finished, I think that's given me a bit of a buzz to keep the label going more consistently. 

What's been happening with Family Tree lately?
They are still busy. Merky Ace is always making music and he's just signed to Dirtee Skank, which is Dizzee Rascal's label. Everyone is still making music and everyone knows that they need to be consistent.

What other young grime collectives are significant right now?
I'm listening to a lot of Novelist at the moment—I like what he's doing. Then there's Uncle Mez from Nottingham, whose stuff is sounding really good. Section Boyz are more UK rap, but they've got a grime style about them so I think what they're doing is interesting. And the same with Stormzy. They're all just smashing it.

Are you as comfortable with more commercial grime music today?
I'm happy. It's good. But to me, grime is a different thing: some people see grime as a certain sound or something, but for me, it's an entire culture movement. I try to base that whole grime process central to what I do; it's not classical training that nurtures that kind of talent. No one taught Dizzee to create Boy In Da Corner—he hustled, he did it himself, and he probably didn't have a clue what he was doing up until now. That was one of the best albums to come out of England! I still try to keep that process in my music because, technically, I'm not that educated. With the current grime climate, Skepta is smashing it but he's been working for so many years, so I'm glad he's getting the love he deserves. What he does is grime. Not pop. And for the fact he's getting worldwide recognition, is just sick.

Can you MC?
I can, actually, but I don't think that's my passion. In this music thing, most importantly, I just want to produce. I started off DJing and that's what I love doing, alongside producing, but I do MC from time to time... Only for fun though.

You're a big fan of US hip-hop tooare you working with any American talents at the moment?
Not really, you know. I've got a rapper on the album called Sasha Go Hard; she's from Chicago and she really does go hard. I listened out for her when the whole Chicago movement came through, and I really wanted to work with some of the Chicago artists around at that time. When I started to work on my album, they all just signed to Def Jam so I thought they were all just a bit too big for me. But there's a lot of talent in Chicago talent that people aren't as aware of. In rap, people are focused on either Drake, Young Thug or Meek Mill. Young Thug has the flame right now, though, but it's a really competitive field. On a UK front, Boy Better Know have put in so much work over the years. They're great examples of how you should be doing it. For me, they're inspirational—they're leading the way. There's a lot of people I look up to who were here before me, and they've all taught me it's good to just be yourself, be creative, and do what makes you happy. 

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