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James Blake Talks Working With Kanye West, Frank Ocean, And Beyoncé

James Blake says Frank Ocean’s new album is worth the wait.

May 05, 2016

Tune into BBC Radio 1 at 19:30 (bst) to hear new music from the forthcoming album.

A photo posted by James Blake (@jamesblake) on


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In an interview with Pitchfork that ran this evening, May 5, James Blake discussed the inspiration for his album The Colour In Anything, which is out now.

Frank Ocean is credited as a co-writer on Blake's new album, and Blake has also been helping Frank Ocean write for his album. Blake said of Frank Ocean's new material, "He is onto something, he really is." He also discussed recording with Beyoncé for LEMONADE, and working with Kanye West.

On working with Beyoncé:

Beyoncé came to the studio, and I was sitting at the piano when I met her. She was just lovely. I came up with something to go with an idea she had; I just embellished her melody. I think the idea was to use some of her lyrics, but I didn't realize that—I misunderstood and did something entirely different from what she wanted. But it didn't matter, because she really liked it, and they ended up using [my version]. Blue Ivy was there, too, which was nice. She was singing along to the song, which was a huge compliment, because kids just don't have any pretense whatsoever.

Co-writing with Frank Ocean:

When I was working on some of his music early on, there was this chord progression I didn't like in something that we were making, and I had an idea. A producer was in the room when I was coming up with it, and he was like, “Nah, I think the chords are fine.” I was like, “No, no.” Then he basically said, “This is Frank's music.” And that’s exactly what I hadn’t learned by working on my own all these years; it's the first lesson in producing, to let go. Frank's vision was the only thing that mattered, at the end of the day. If the tables were turned, and Frank were to have a particular opinion about my music, I would take it into consideration, but it's about my gut feeling as well. But learning from that made me want to work with other people on my own projects.

Why Kanye West didn't appear on the album:

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Something was supposed to happen; I don't really know how to describe how that didn't work out. I wanted Kanye to be on the song "Timeless," but the verse didn’t materialize. I think a huge swath of things happened in his life, and I just stayed out of it. Eventually, the mood of the album changed, and in the end I don't think it would have fit. But I didn't say I was working with Kanye just so people would get interested—I really wanted him to be on it.

Read the full interview here.

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James Blake Talks Working With Kanye West, Frank Ocean, And Beyoncé