We often hear the final product of an R&B single dropped into a late-night “Slow Jamz” segment on the radio, but to witness a love song get translated from the artist’s pen and paper to the airwaves, I hung out with South Florida singer/songwriter Eyme XY in the studio.
Eyme was born in Canada from Haitian and Dominican parents. They supported her career as she moved back and forth between Miramar and New York. Now 29 years old, she's worked with top producers; explored singing, acting, and dancing careers; and still manages to make time to write music. I caught her performance last year at the Void party hosted at LMNT every month and immediately sensed there were great stories behind her love songs.
Her latest effort, "Bad4U," seamlessly mixes R&B and trap into a track you can both turn up and get it on to. Recently, she took a few months to revamp her sound and draw new inspiration. With only a couple of tracks left up on her SoundCloud artist page, she's making space for what we watched her lay down.
Eyme told me to meet her at Midtown Studios around 4 p.m. “I’m running a little late,” she texted. I didn't mind. Soon, a big, black SUV sped down the street and pulled into the second spot of just two at the studio. Out of the truck came a brown-skinned girl with a head full of long, curly hair. Her red lipstick was freshly applied, and she was dressed comfortably in black leggings, a custom-made, dark-blue, oversized Miami jersey, and black Timbs with fur on the top.
“Hi! Nice to meet you,” she greeted me with a hug. “This is Reazy, my producer.” I shook his hand and walked toward the steel door of the studio, which was, of course, locked. “It’s Reazy. I’m here for a session,” says Reazy into the speaker system. The door opened.
The room we're assigned hosts a huge mixing board, two flat-screen TVs, and four massive, plush orange couches. People walked in and out of the studio “dapping” each other up, failing to introduce themselves to us, but Eyme jumped right into it. She gave me the rundown of her upcoming project, Mona Lisa, expected to drop this summer. “I’m trying to bring whining back instead of twerking,” she said as she played a few of the songs. She turned up the volume while a group of guys nodded to the beat and rolled up something herbal in the back corner.
“I brought my camera so we can take photos,” said Eyme. We walked to the front of the studio, where there's a white wall for photo shoots. “I’m not the best model,” she warned, but surprised us when she gets in front of the camera. Her friend Faryn sat on the couch to watch.
After about 20 frames of her switching her hands on her hips, she decided to change into a gray fur coat, which she calls her "baby." "I got it from Goodwill for only 40 bucks. What a deal." Back in the studio, Reazy was setting up, hooking up his laptop to an AKAI MPK 49 keyboard and proceeding to create Eyme’s beat on the spot. He added something new to the beat every two seconds, perfecting the sound.
Eyme brought us outside to the lounge area to do some writing. Grabbing her black Sony headphones, Macbook, and iPhone, she began to work on a melody. She scrolled through some beats stored in her laptop and hums along. This is how she gets in the groove. Next, she opened a voice memo on her phone, plays the beat, and sang each line into the phone's mic. When she doesn't have words, she just improvises, scatting over the beat. She stopped the track and saved her work, a fresh new melody all stored up. She has a million voice memos like this one saved, most serving as inspiration or parts of songs she needs to finish. She listened back a few times, sang a bit, stopped, then sang a bit more, adding a new piece to the song each time. This is the process of a songwriter writing on the spot.
Eyme got quiet. She was staring at her phone. “I ran out of words,” she says. “When I run out of words, I usually go back to my inspiration.” She went through her phone again and pulls up an Aaliyah song, getting through half of it. Then she pulled up another beat and went back to humming. Taking a break, she put on some Disclosure. “It’s the only album I listen to when I’m in New York,” she says. She turned it up, loud, and has a whole jam-out session on the couch while managing to not drop her cup of water.
Getting back to work, Eyme took out a thick, white notepad full of lyrics written in purple ink, playing back beat after beat, writing and filling up page after page. Once the song is finished, it was time to hit the booth — but not before she gets a coffee. “I need something to keep me calm; I still get nervous,” she laughs.
In the booth, Eyme set a mood first by vibing to the beat, playing it over and over and dimming the lights so that I can't see anything but the light from my phone screen. As she sang, she told her engineer what to keep, what to trash. This method went on for a few hours as her posse hypes her up in the background, though she doesn't need it. Her voice sounds great, even without AutoTune.
Finally, she gets the whole song out. Now it’s time for ad libs. As the song plays back, Eyme adds her unique ad libs throughout. ”It has to be organic,” she said in between takes. Usually, the whole process takes three to four hours to complete. Her studio session is long and the room full of tired and under-the-influence faces, but at last the song is complete — for now. She doesn't tell me the title, but it has an EDM-influenced beat and lots of higher-register notes only she and Mariah Carey could hit.
She stepped out of the booth, and the engineer wrapped up the session on the computer. "I usually come with the project mostly done, but thank you for this experience," she said as she walks us out of the building. What I just heard will most definitely stuck in my head for the next few days.
Eyme plans to record again in her time visiting from New York and will soon return with a new website, YouTube channel, and this summer, Mona Lisa.