Sketching is central to the way Faze Miyake thinks about music. The East London producer and artist releases little and often, finishing one idea and moving straight onto the next – a quick-on-the-draw method that’s fully attuned to the streaming era. In the last few years he’s established “a constant cycle – make the music, put it out,” with nine EPs and singles under his name in 2020 – and his production credits and collaborations have included AJ Tracey, CASISDEAD, Skepta, Novelist, Avelino, Belly Squad. and more. “I decided from 2017 that it wasn’t worth dropping albums anymore,” he says. “What I like to do is make loads of sketches, and when I’m happy with four or five, that’s an EP and I get that out.”
In the decade since his breakout track ‘Take Off’ – the brassy grime anthem that landed smack between the solid pulse of grime and the baggy bluster of Southern hip-hop – Faze has stayed at the vanguard of the transatlantic conversation, mixing square waves and 808s with uncanny foresight. His exploration of Chicago drill – including a 2015 collaboration with scene original Sasha Go Hard – even anticipated its UK spinoff. “My goal when I started was that I wanted our music to be better than America’s, and it is now,” he says. “American artists are going platinum off UK producers’ beats!”
NI products used: FM8, KONTAKT 6
Download the stems from Faze Miyake’s sketch here, then remix, re-use, and repurpose them any way you like.
Faze’s rapid-fire approach is about minimizing the gap between idea and execution. He sits down to his computer not knowing what’s going to happen and usually finishes a beat in one sitting – maybe a vocal too, in his growing identity as an MC. “I’ll start the track without even thinking what kind of sound I want to make,” he says, “and if I’m extra happy with a track then I’ll get it finished straight away.”
He built up his sketch as usual, starting with the melodic information – this time, the airy and crystal-bright sounds of FM8 – and building outwards. “I’ll start with the chords, then duplicate the channel and play another melody underneath it, then duplicate again,” he says, “using the same plugin but selecting different sounds. I’ll have that done in 15 minutes.”
What I like to do is make loads of sketches, and when I’m happy with four or five, that’s an EP and I get that out.
Then he programs a beat by loading his own drum packs into Kontakt, a habit that formed when he first made the switch from Fruity Loops to Logic and wanted to bring the trusty piano roll along with him. “Most people would use EXS24 or Ultrabeat, no one thinks to use Kontakt as a sampler for their drums,” he laughs. Next comes the bass – in this case, a mighty slab of 808, “which is always the cherry on top for me.” Listen out for his audio watermarks dotted around too: police sirens, barking dogs and a custom “Faze Miyake” vocal drop, which he’s been using in different ways for years: “All of them are my signatures – it’s fun for me to have listeners notice those details.”
The result is a classic slice of Faze Miyake: 140 seconds that encapsulate a decade of beat-making at the intersection of UK and US bass cultures. “I’m the sort of person who doesn’t believe in knowing everything – I’m just an explorer, I like to figure things out for myself,” he says, “and now I’m 10 years into being that person. My process hasn’t changed, but I’ve gained a lot more skills.”
Words: Chal Ravens