Miley Cyrus shocked her fans with the announcement at the end of this year's VMAs that she was releasing her new album, Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz, on Soundcloud that night. The 23 song album is a fricassee of acid folk mid-tempos, longing piano ballads, and a sprinkling of springy Mike WiLL Made-It productions. There's a lot of talk about weed, sex, and outer space that anyone following Miley's Instagram for more than a week would come to expect.
Although Wayne Coyne has been the person most credited with Miley's new sound, this was a one person job. The FADER spoke to Oren Yoel—who has four production credits on the new album—about working with Cyrus for the second time. The pair first linked up on "Adore You," the emotional first track on Cyrus' Bangerz, and Yoel says that this recording process was completely different.
Read our full conversation with Yoel below:
So how did you meet Miley in the first place?
We started working in beginning of 2012. I met her at a Hitboy recording session and I played some records and her manager at the time literally got up and clapped after a few songs. So it made me look really good and she wanted to cut one of them. One of them being "Adore You," which is on the last record. So we kind of worked on seven songs, I went with her and worked with this girl Stacy [Barthe] and that's how we started. It was beginning of 2012. I want to say my record, it was the first one she recorded for Bangerz.
And what was the difference like working with her this time?
It's very different this time. Essentially last time she was kind of getting songs and recording them, and on some things she was helping out with the writing, but this record was very different because last record we kind of recording songs that were preexisting with Stacy. On this one, Miley was writing everything at her house essentially. I would send her tracks, I was basically in Europe the whole time. She contacted me in the middle of the night while she was on tour. I started sending her records that she would like, just track ideas and so then she started writing on tour and it led to her writing back at her house. It was a lot more organic on this one, she was pouring her heart out.
Did you manage to spend some time in the studio with her?
Yeah, when we started finishing stuff. A lot of the initial stuff was her and her engineer recording over my tracks and then we got in the studio and fine tuned them, but the initial thing was me sending stuff to help her find stuff she would emotionally connect to and hopefully write something cool.
Wanted to talk to you about "Space Boots," which I've been seeing a lot of people say on Twitter is a standout.
Thank you, that one is the most "me." It's crazy how that became a thing, because initially I came up with that track at my house, just kind of hanging out with my girl. The funny thing is I didn't have that much when she was like "hey send me some stuff" and I never thought that she was gonna fucks with it. I sent it to her and I never heard anything again, for like six months. I had all of these other songs, they sent me some stuff too and when we started putting stuff together, she played it for me with just the first verse and the chorus and I was like, "this is sick!" and then we did the rest at her engineers spot. Then I messed with the production, you know. It was very simple and then I just kind of like put these touches on it and made it bang. And then I mixed it basically myself, my engineer helped as well but that's the process. I sent her the track, didn't hear anything for six to seven months and then she wrote something on top and molded it from there.
I had a whole bunch of other songs and I didn't even know and then it was like "oh, you wrote this one I'm so happy!" It feels like me the most and that was really fucking cool, I'm glad that it landed on something—it's so indie and it landed on something so major. So that was cool.
And was there a similar process for "1 Sun?"
It's another one that I heard once at her house. I came to her house in December of last year. I was like, "ooh, kinda dope." Then when she was getting the tracklist together, I had a list of these other songs and she was like, "1 Sun," and I was like "what song is that? Oh shit this one!" From there, essentially, I just tried to put it together better and try and make it as big as possible, while trying to stick to the initial idea that she loved. I'm usually in the studio with the artist, but for this one she was really just getting creative at her house. It's such a personal thing, and she didn't write as much until now, she needed that space.
What about "BB Talk," which is such a personal track?
She sent me in the track back and I listened to it in my living room. It's so personal and knowing her on a personal level, this feels like her when she talks. It's so effortless. I sent her the track and she wrote that thing. This track was kind of crazy it took me a couple listens. My girl is such a good soundboard for me if something's hot, she's like "this is really, really cute" and I was like, "okay dope." I never know. It's hard for me to judge my own shit and hopefully it's dope. That's why I do everything 110%.
Not sure if you saw, but Mike Will told the New York Times "Miley is the new Madonna." Do you agree with that?
Madonna is Madonna, and Miley is Miley. I fucking hate comparisons but I think people need something to compare something too, so I get that. I think in the sense of reinventing yourself and understanding your own brand, they're very similar in that sense. What's so great about Miley is that she has these great fans that will roll with her whatever she throws at them, I don't think too many artists have fans like that and that's incredible. So in a sense of her being able to change up her style and being as talented as Madonna, of course, for me, I hate comparing different artists. In a sense of her being able to morph into different things, I think she understands her brand better than anybody.