Ever since he was a little kid, Emile Haynie dreamed of living in one of those sprawling, classic Victorian homes near Delaware Park. He still remembers the look and feel of the timeless architecture that has come to define Buffalo as vividly as if he were standing right in front of it.
“It's truly one of the most beautifully built cities in America and the houses are so cool,” Haynie said. “I miss the architecture."
Ironically, the 36-year-old Grammy-winning record producer and songwriter could easily afford to buy one of those Victorian homes if he wanted to now. Haynie has built a successful career and carved out a name for himself as one of the top music producers and songwriters in the industry, working with notable and chart-topping artists such as Bruno Mars, Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Eminem and more. And he recently won two more Grammy awards for his work on Adele’s latest album, "25."
Still, presently rubbing elbows with world-famous musicians and producers in California hasn’t made Haynie forget where he came from, or the fact that he used to take the subway every day from the Humboldt/Main Street stop.
“I started out as a DJ when I was 12," he said. "It was the early 90s and I lived in the same neighborhood as Jeremy Cochise. He was THE record producer in Buffalo and he had a record deal and a studio. He took me under his wing and taught me about music production. I would sit back, watch and absorb. My intro into music and learning the craft solely comes from Buffalo and the [people] I was lucky enough to meet and learn from.”
Haynie says high school was a bit “tricky” for him. Though he attended Bennett High School and an alternative school in Cheektowaga, he never graduated. Instead, at 18 years old, he moved to New York City with lofty aspirations of becoming a hip-hop producer.
“Many of the friends I made music with in Buffalo were making the same move,” he explained. “So, it made a lot of sense. My mother also lived in Queens, so I had a place to stay.”
Name: Emile Haynie
Current location: Los Angeles
Previous locations: West Side, Buffalo
Loves most about Los Angeles: The quiet, calm lifestyle and being around the music industry
Misses most about Buffalo: The architecture, the people and definitely the food
After producing music for up and coming New York City-based rappers in the early 2000s, Haynie’s career took off and expanded into other genres of music. He moved to Los Angeles two years ago and released his debut solo album, "We Fall," with guest appearances from Brian Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, Nate Ruess and more. Now, Haynie is dabbling in movie/show scoring, and most recently worked on the Netflix hit, "The Get Down," with Baz Luhrmann.
“LA is a great town to live in if you make music and have already spent your time learning the craft,” he said. “The weather is calm and the food is healthy. I live on a hill and have some land and a garden. It's a bit boring but ultimately very calming.”
It’s also not Buffalo, the place that Haynie says he misses every day for various reasons.
“I miss the people, my friends and their families. I really miss the sense of humor. Growing up, my friends and I would make such fun of each other — I'm talking our deepest insecurities. There's a certain kind of personality in Buffalo that is hard to explain but it’s very special.
“And the food. Oh, the food! Occasionally I'll just look at photos on the internet of Bocce pizza and La Nova wings and salivate. It’s a little creepy to be honest.”
Even though he hasn’t been back to the Queen City to satisfy his food cravings recently, Haynie admits he’s heard about the resurgence and the cultural boom happening on the lower West Side, and can’t wait to “check it out.”
“Buffalo is and always will be a soulful place,” he added. “People are warm and inviting with big personalities and a fun outlook on life. The snow sort of grounds you and home life is quite important. Things don't exactly come easy and I feel that the people I know who grew up there, truly appreciate when they have something good.”
If you or anyone you know has a story to tell about moving back or to Buffalo, or about moving away, email LynsD21@gmail.com.