Mike Dean opens up about his role on “DONDA,” explaining how the listening parties impacted the album.
Though Mike Dean has been Kanye’s trusted producer and audio engineer for years now — a creative partnership that has been ongoing since the days of The College Dropout — reports surfaced that the DONDA sessions were taking a toll on his mental health.
It got to the point where some were joking that Dean had been “kidnapped,” and while Dean initially maintained that was well, it was later reported that he had left the stadium over a “toxic environment.” He later maintained that he was still involved in the project, though he had decided to continue his work from his home.
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Now, DONDA has finally arrived, as has Dean’s new album ECHOPLEX (LIVE 2021), a visual project with songs from his synth-fueled studio drop 4:22. In support of his recent run, Dean sat down with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss some of his recent endeavors. Naturally, his role on DONDA was addressed, and the producer slash multi-instrumentalist had much to say about the creative process.
“It was interesting,” says Dean. “It was grueling, lots of hours, lots of changes. Yeah. Came out great though. Kanye had three listening parties. So each listening party was like a test kind of. And after each one, I think he wanted… I can’t talk too much about his process. He took all the information he got from everyone, including online reviews, personal friends’ reviews, and he just kind of digest it all and adjust the album the way he wants.”
“I definitely looked at how the crowd moved to different songs, he explains, reflecting on his role during the big performances. “I was just up on a house, maybe four layers up, next to the top layer, running the songs off my computer.”
For more from Mike Dean, be sure to check out our own interview with the legendary producer right here.