Producer/composer/singer-songwriter/session player Jon Brion has worked with everyone from Kanye West to Fiona Apple and Frank Ocean to Beyoncé — but when he was asked to finish up Mac Miller‘s album Circles, he embarked on a brilliant yet delicate musical journey like no other.
When the two met prior to Miller’s unexpected passing, he was focused on writing and recording material for two albums that would become Swimming and Circles — with the full concept being Swimming In Circles.
Brion jumped in with his expertise toward the end of the Swimming sessions and together they found a flow in the studio. The plan was that Miller would head out on tour, return, and then they were to finish up Circle together. But, it didn’t happen that way.
Brion tells all via Vulture:
When he died, everyone who knew him basically just … the wreckage is … it’s worthless to put into words. It’s worthless to say how awful it was for anyone else. I was flattened, and I feel like by having to talk about this stuff, I’m reopening the wound.
He recalls, track-by-track, how Circles came together:
The batch of stuff that became Circles were the things I liked the most and things I heard that had, frankly, little to do with me. I just heard them and was moved by them. “I Can See” is the perfect example. It made me so sad he was gone. It’s one of those moments, like, Oh my God, he’s even better than I thought. And I already thought the world of him.
In closing, he writes:
The term I found myself using when deciding what to add to Circles was “complete thoughts.” They weren’t thoughts I had to complete for him. This was a guy who spoke very well for himself. I shouldn’t even be here talking about it. In terms of anyone else’s perception, I can’t do fuck all about that. The only thing I care about is people getting to hear it. The people who are affected by it have the benefit of being affected by his insight and his articulation. Everything else doesn’t matter.
Read the full article with Jon Brion here, as he gives a play-by-play on the entire production process behind Circles.