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Since his major-label debut in 2011, James Blake’s haunting vocals and brilliantly edited, collage-style tracks have helped usher in a new sound in popular music. James has both produced and contributed vocals to a ton of artists including Travis Scott, Jay-Z, and Spanish megastar, Rosalia. He even earned a Grammy for best rap performance alongside Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Future on the song “King’s Dead” from the Black Panther soundtrack.

This month James is releasing his sixth solo album, which is a nod to his electronic music roots. It’s called Playing Robots Into Heaven—a title inspired by the modular synth James built for the album that creates sounds meant to evoke a spiritual experience conjured by machines. It’s a heady concept that translates into some of the most heartfelt and energized tracks James has made to date.

On today’s episode, Leah Rose talks to James Blake about how he and his longtime collaborator Dom Maker constructed key tracks on the new album. James also recalls how a conversation with Rick Rubin changed his life. And he reveals how he spent months making new music with Andre 3000 only to learn on this podcast that it may never be released.

You can hear a playlist of some of our favorite James Blake songs HERE.

The Hosts

Rick Rubin

In addition to being a podcast host, Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder…

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is co-founder of Pushkin Industries and host of the hit podcast Revisionist History. He is a journalist, a speaker, and the author of several New York Times bestsellers including The Tipping…

Justin Richmond

Justin Richmond is producer and co-host of the music podcast Broken Record with writer Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times editor Bruce Headlam, and music producer—and Def Jam co-founder—Rick Rubin. Justin…

Bruce Headlam

Bruce Headlam is one of the co-creators of the music podcast Broken Record. He worked at The New York Times for 19 years, including two years running the 50-person Video…