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James Blake discusses working with Beyoncé and why he turned Drake down

No surprise, he hopes to work with Beyoncé again

  • Neal Rahman
  • 13 July 2016

James Blake recently appeared for an interview on the Spotify show 'Secret Genius' where he discussed details on his collaboration with Beyoncé, as well as why he turned down a sample request from Drake.

On working with Bey, Blake explained that he boldly rewrote lyrics that her team had given him when he entered the studio. "I've never sung anybody else's lyrics. So I just assumed that's not what I was going to be doing. So I got my phone out and sang some of my own lyrics that were about something else and about somebody else. But it fit somehow into the song and it fit into the album, and I'm just honored that they used it."

Eventually, those lyrics became the backbone of 'Forward,' the shortest track on Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' album. Additionally, he played space bass on album opener 'Pray You Catch Me'. He said the experience left him with "an appetite to work with her more, because I'd love to hear a full song" and added that the song "did more promotion for my record ['The Colour in Anything'] than probably anything else ever will.”

He also revealed why he asked Drake to remove his sample from the 2014 single '0 to 100'/'The Catch-Up'.

"I sent them some stuff just hoping to just do a collaboration of some kind. And I got an email the day before '0 to 100'/'The Catch Up' came out and it just said, 'Hey, we're using this beat you made from like four years ago. Just quickly send me your approval so we can just put it out.' I only sent it as a collaborative idea, not to be sampled on a record."

Blake went on to share that he eventually discussed the decision with his publisher, and out of curiosity, asked about how much money he likely turned down by denying the use of the sample. Though he never shared the actual amount, Blake apparently "spat out his drink" at the answer.

"If anything, I could actually do with the track being out - I did like it - but I don't regret the decision. For anybody who wondered why a version of that came out and then never made it to the record, that's why."

Listen to the full interview with James Blake on Spotify below.

[Photo: Tom Spray]

Neal Rahman is Mixmag's Los Angeles Digital Intern. Follow him on Twitter

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