The masterful producer and songwriter known as Malay just had a Zayn Malik–oriented sit-down with Pitchfork, and hooooo boy did it yield some fascinating Frank Ocean info. Malay—birth name James Ho—worked on 13 of the 17 tracks on Frocean's 2012 debut album, Channel Orange, and yes, he's got the hookup on the next LP.
"Frank’s exploring different vibes completely on this album," says Malay, who produced nearly half of Zayn's first solo set, Mind of Mine. "I wouldn’t say it’s vocally looser but just his mentality; it doesn’t seem as meticulous at certain times.” Much of that looseness came from Frank's decision to often record "with a handheld mic sitting in the control room."
But here's the real nugget about the Frank album that may or may not still be called Boys Don't Cry, which we may have heard some snippets from a couple weeks ago and which we have a Complete Guide for right here:
"I always tell people: When he’s ready, the world is gonna get it. It could be tomorrow… well not tomorrow but maybe a month [laughs]. We’ve all been working hard. He’s been working super hard. I feel like he’s working harder than he’s ever worked in his life. I’m excited for everyone to hear it. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, for sure."
Malay, whose collaborations in the last couple years include Alessia Cara, Tori Kelly and Angel Haze, also spoke about young artists approaching him for help getting to "that Frank Ocean position—not necessarily sonically but in the way Frank created his own lane."
The whole interview's a super fascinating read. (Frank worked on the vocals for his 10-minute Channel Orange classic "Pyramids" for 30 straight days in the studio. Stuff like that.) Go check it out.
Below, listen to the Back of the Class podcast talk about those leaked Frank Ocean tracks and the singer's hopefully imminent return at the 12:35 mark in the episode below, featuring guest Bianca Gracie: