"Musicians aren't great listeners," Toffler adds

By Alex Heigl
September 02, 2015 02:45 PM
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

The 2015 VMAs were a big deal for MTV exec Van Toffler: They were the last of his 28-year run as executive producer on the show.

Fortunately, between the whole Miley Cyrus/Nicki Minaj back-and-forth and Kanye West‘s epic speech, Toffler went out with a bang.

And in a new interview with Billboard, Toffler provides a behind-the-curtain look at West’s speech.

“We originally thought Kanye was going to do a medley,” Toffler said. “Then we thought he was going to not do music and talk. Then, about two acts into the show, we thought he would do a couple-song medley. This is after the show started. Then, about an act before, we found out that he might not do music and just speak – but we had to be prepared for both, so we had a track cued up. We were in the truck and we heard this 10 minutes before he was to accept the award.”

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“He didn’t rehearse,” Toffler continued. “I saw him on the red carpet beforehand, but he didn’t tell me what direction he was going to go in. We’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Someone from his camp was with us in the truck and he was surprised too.”

“Musicians aren’t great listeners,” concluded Toffler. “We might say to Kanye, ‘Here’s how we want you to do the acceptance speech,’ and he would say, ‘Thank you very much – I’m going to do what I’m going to do.’ ”

An MTV source previously told PEOPLE, “Kanye’s speech was a complete mystery until he was giving it. No one had any idea what he was going to say or do.”