: Please, tell us a little about your beginnings? (00: 36: 46)
was born and raised in minneapolis and...in minnesota...and been associated
with music all my life. my mother and dad were both professional musicians
and uh...so i've had that input all my life. my mother sang with the minneapolis
symphony women's chorus and the minneapolis symphony at that time was under
the direction of anatole doraty and as a 10 or 11 year old I used to go
with my mother to rehearsal and to this day I can never forget that sound.
it gives me goose pimples thinking of it. Hearing the women's chorus singing
Mahler with the Minneapolis symphony is an...it's just incredible and I
think that made a big impact on my sonic mental bench mark. It's certainly
impacted on my work. Also my mother and dad were...I was really lucky. They
were totally supportive of my efforts as a kid with recording and equipment
cause I damned near burned down the house about five times and had to drill
holes through the wall for speakers from the ceiling and inviting all sorts
of musicians to the house at odd hours to record them. never a word, never
a question or anything. It was absolutely incredible and to carry that a
step further.(00: 38: 32) One of my real idols early in this industry was
bill putnam and he founded a university recording in chicago and then later
came out here in california and founded. U.R.E.I. united recording electronics
industry manufacture. Some of the greatest innovative equipment that we
had at the time. But bill was a marvellous recording engineer. He was a
pioneer, many of the early techniques we use to this day. For instance,
(00: 39: 14) Bill Putnam literally invented echo or reverb. Artificial reverb,
the way we use reverb in the studio to this day, in his invention and er...so
I was er...all I talked about as a kid was Bill Putnam this and Bill Putnam
that. And so my folks were, my mom and dad were in Chicago- Bill was based
in Chicago and universal recordings studios was at that time on Ontario
street, 111 East Ontario. So my mom and dad were in Chicago on business
and they stopped to meet this guy I kept on talking about. Bill was a warm
wonderful guy. He took them in the studio and they sat in the session with
the Harmonicats and er...there's a name from the past well "Peg O'
My Heart" by the Harmonicats. Bill Putnam used reverb for the first
time, he had a speaker in the stairwell and a microphone and er...That was
a big deal. It sounded so different (00: 40: 17) and made such an impact
on me as a kid. He became one of my real idols and later a mentor. Well
anyway, my mom and dad went to the studio and met bill and he took them
in and sat with the section and told him and my mom and dad told them there
was a kid that was dying to start recording and everything. So a few years
later I called bill and bill said come on, we'll get you a job. In the meantime
I had done a lot of recording in minneapolis, classical recording, a lot
of choir recordings and some r&b and even recorded Tommy Dorsey band-
the year? (00: 41: 01) Oh boy...I think it was probably some of the last
recording he did. It probably had to be 1954-55 something like that...now
maybe earlier. I was just out of high school...I was going to the university
of Minnesota. Just gotten married and I was running the recording department
for schmidt music company in minneapolis. They had a wonderful studio and
er...later about 1954-55 I bought that studio and the business from schmidt
music and built my own studio.(00: 41: 40) I bought an old theatre in minneapolis
on the south side and converted it into a recording studio. Incidently it
is still a world class studio, still a recording studio. We were so poor
that for acoustical treatment we couldn't afford acoustical treatment. We
couldn't afford acoustical tire. We used egg cartons and glued them in the
ceiling. Bea & I, my wife, for weeks would sit and stick glue on these
things. We posted them everywhere and the studio sounded wonderful.
: And how was recording at that time? (00: 42: 16)
was wonderful er...one track it was mono and er...as a matter of fact
when I started at schmidt music company we didn't have a tape machine.
What we had was a control room...traditional control room with a console.
Here in the glass studio, but behind the console were two disc cutting
lathes and the sound went from the studio through the console onto the
disc cutting lathes and this was a very big western electric recording
console at the time which at the time (00: 42: 47) had seven mic inputs.
And if I remember I think it only had four microphone inputs but...anyway
what happened later was Bill Putnam and I talked and he had built the
studio universal at 36 East Walton in chicago. Studio a was completed.
He was using it and recording marvellous thing and he told me studio b
is going to be ready in a few months and why don't you come here and work
here and he said we'll get you a job at RCA for a year waiting for studio
b to be finished so that I could work in it at universal. Anyway, while
I was at universal I got to record the Chicago symphony and many wonderful
projects that were great.
43: 53) But so then about 1957 I started working at universal and kind
of under the wing of Bill Putnam. He had incredible sense about what I
need to know. So i'd be working in studio b doing commercials or records
or whatever, and in the evening i'd spend my time hanging out with bill
in the big studio while he was recording big band dates or whatever he
was doing and finally we're doing, (00: 44: 20 ) - I remember like it
was yesterday- Bill was doing Stan Kenton. had the band set up. It was
smoking. (00: 44: 30 ) It was sounding ridiculous and I had set the mikes
up for him and I was er...you know, testing everything. He made a couple
takes of everything and he left. I guess he had already told stan what
he was going to do and everything. He just left and I guess that was my
baptism of fire and I was absolutely terrified. I don't think i'll never
forget that day. But it worked out great, sound good and that was the
beginning. That was about 1957.
45: 18 ) Then still at the universal this incredible studio in chicago
in 1958, Quincy shows up. We're doing for mercury records, we're doing
dinah washington. We did an album and Quincy wrote the arrangments and
a guy by the name of Jack Tracy produced this project but Quincy wrote
these incredible charts and I think it was evident at that time that Quincy
and I could make beautiful music together because we liked each other
a lot. We think alike and our tastes are alike in a lot of things and
er...So we did Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn and everything about that
time, about august 1958. I was about 22 and Quincy was about 23. Quincy
was vice-president of Mercury records at that time and probably the youngest
if not one of the youngest executives with a major label. He was probably
the youngest executive with a major label in the industry. (00: 46: 20
) So we spent a lot of time together. probably for the next 2-3 years
doing mercury projects. We did something for norman grands and er...can't
think, a bunch of different labels.
: What kind of music would you record at that time?
46: 46 ) Well it was kind of be-bop oriented but we did "what a
difference a day makes" dinah washington. That I never forget. Dinah coming
in with her fur coat and her entourage and everything, it was just a wonderful
experience. It was very exciting. It was part of the entertainment industry
and music and er...(00: 47: 10 ) I'll never forget some of the albums
I did was not with quincy but count basie band for roulette records er...I
did a lot of work with Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Jack
Teagarden...recorded all these bands. The wonderful thing that was impact
with my sound shaped, my sonic personality more than anything was the
47: 46 ) These guys at that time they loved the recording process and
Quincy was probably the most into the actual recording process. He loved
it and wanted to know all about it - wanted to take this new thing and
wanted it as far as we could.
Count Basie for instance, I did an album with Count Basie and Joe Williams.
It's called "nothing but the blues" it was on roulette records and I don't
know if it's been re-released on CD but it's an incredible album. and
i'll never forget those days. It was august. Hot in Chicago, hot, humid,
bugs er..you name it! But what we started to do was to get the band warmed
up and ready to go. (00: 48: 35 ) We were going to record the band
after they played the gig. So they were playing at a club locally in Chicago
and they'd play...I guess they would finish at one in the morning or something
like that. They would leave the club and come to the studio and we'd start
the sessions at two in the morning and work till six in the morning (00:
48: 54 ) and that was...well...but here's the thing that makes those sessions
really stand out in my memory. Not only were they wonderful musicians
but about half of the people from the club followed the band into the
studio and you can just picture this...this was universal studio in chicago,
studio a large, beautiful sounding room.
49: 25 ) I bet the room was oh, it had to be about 80 feet long, about
50 feet wide with a 30 feet ceiling. Just incredible sounding. bill putnam
designed wonderful mikes. Anyway, I had the band set up as I usually did
and all these people start showing up. Well, we set chairs on the outside
of the studio ground, the perimeter of the studio and everyone is talking
and i've asked that the saxophone section play a little bit so I can get
a level and everything and they're carrying on. What were we drinking?
a cold duck! was some kind of champagne or wine or something or cases
of that and er...
: Were they going wild?
No, no, that's the differences. We're having a great time and the band
is playing a little lick, rehearsing a little bit and everything. I never
had a real chance in those days to have a good level or anything. Count
Basie would stand up to give the down beat and boy (00: 50: 39 ) that
tape would better be rolling because the performances are incredible and
there is not one sound from any of those people on those tapes the minute
the band was playing and the tape was rolling. They all sat down and not
make a sound. It was magic.
yet, you can feel the electricity in the room. and it was before the days
there was no vocal booth or anything. The band is set up in the middle
of this huge, Gorgeous studio and a globo or an isolation flat and Joe
was there singing on my u47 that I still have and use on michael jackson
to this day and this incredible sound. (00: 51: 32 ) And I used the tapes
that I made during these. I ran a seperate tape machine of stereo mix
from those dates in another control room so that I would have a tape,
I used those tapes in my master classes and lectures and er...they sound
just incredible and it was such fun but that was a wonderful time for
me to experience that - kind of interesting, others thought these bands,
Kenton bands for instance or woody herman or whoever I literally learnt
microphone technique by (00: 52: 06 ) experimenting with these fantastic
bands and musicians. And they were into it, they were up for it. If I
wanted to - to try another mike or if I wanted to put a mike in the kick
drum or in the high hat or something...(00: 52: 35 ) so I learned microphone
technique by er..by experimenting with count basie, with Woody Herman,
Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Putnam. Yeah so what was incredible I think
to me at that time was how a lot of the musicians in the bands that I
worked with (00: 53: 25) were so fascinated by the recording technique
and would put up with me trying to experiment with different sounds and
different er...microphones, trying different things. (00: 53: 41 ) What
a wonderful thing for me to literally grow up in the studios with basie,
Ellington and Jack Teagarden and Woody Herman and Stan Kenton, learning
microphone technique with these guys. It is fantastic and I....another
kind of interesting little thing was record moguls in other words,
54: 01 ) The people that ran record companies at that time didn't think
there was much of a future in stereo and I remember one guy, I won't name
him but he was a big executive with a major label, said that stereo was
to him like taking a shower with two shower heads and er...ha! ha! ha!.
Shows you how silly they were thinking. But they had no trust in the future
of stereo, and they wouldn't pay for a tape. they wouldn't pay for extra
machines or whatever. So I did it on my own. anyway we had a seperate
control room. we had to disguise it. We had to have a seperate control
room for stereo in the back part of the studio so that the record moguls
wouldn't think they were paying extra tape or something like that.
anyway, I made those tapes and I kept them all in that room and there's
some wonderful moments there.
: What was your relationship with these moguls, I mean how was it at that
time as far as the music business?
55: 14 ) Well..it was kind of funny. engineers didn't get credit on record
labels and we were kind of looked on more as mecanics and er...so on..Which
was the furthest thing from the truth. And of course it bugged the day
lights out of me because I was kind of a rebel. I was very young at that
moment in the industry and I wanted to experiment with stereo because
I knew there was something new and er...I knew that stereo wasn't merely
coming out of one speaker and something different coming out of another
speaker. I knew that we could reproduce the sound of music and the feel
of music more emotionally by stereo. But the people...the recording industry
executives didn't want to hear about it.
I went on and experimented with it without them knowing about it. I had
ambience mikes set up in the studio and I was learning and to this day
i'm so thankful that I went ahead and did that, and you know that kind
of took us forwards abit and er...a few years later, stereo began to be
important. In the mid-60s we started messing around with a thing called
stereo record which was a big breakthrough.
: And when did you use your first multi-track?
very early, probably in the late 50s. I guess
(00:56:55): I used my first multi-track or what you would call a multi-track,
a machine in the late 50s recording ellington's band and basie's band
and it was a 3 track. It was a 3 track on half inch tape and it was used
for as a tool to rebalance the relationship between the lead vocal or
the solo instrument and the band. so the track one and three were the
stereo mix of the band and was balanced and the centre track or track
2 would be the vocal by itself so we could change that relationship, that
value between the vocal, the lead vocal and the solo of the band and it
just worked out great.
we - i'll never forget it - somebody asked me about that yesterday. So
the next step was 4 track. So we...i'll never forget at universal we got
our first 4 track tape machine and we sat around for about two days, what
year? (00: 58: 13 ) It must have been 1959 or 60. Anyway, we got this
beautiful ampex and instead of 3 tracks it was now 4 tracks and we stood
around for two days staring in that machine trying to figure out what
we were going to use the extra tracks for. But pretty soon we figured
it out. Oh well, we can put precussion on it or we can do something and
(00: 58: 40 ) it went to 8 tracks and then we figured it out, we can do
some over-dubbing and these other wonderful things and the 16 track came
along and 24 track, 32, 48..and so on.
: And now how many tracks are you using?
"back on the block"? Well, there's one song on "back on the block" called
"places you find love" and (00: 58: 58 ) and there's 90 tracks of audio
use to produce that piece of music, three 32 track tape machines are rolling
and there's little, tiny little filigree parts in there but it goes to
make up for this overall image. Plus one thing in my type of work, I use
an awful lot of tracks because I love the sound of real stereo recording.
So most of my recording work is er...done in stereo pairs as a matter
of fact - I'll tell you a funny little story - (00: 59: 33 ) we
go through 8 track, 16 track the next step was 24 track. I'll never forget
the day. (00: 59: 48 ) This must have been a sound mark in studios in
chicago, never forget the day when I saw my first 24 track and everything.
I thought to myself: "my god! a 12 track stereo". That is literally the
way it hit me the first day I saw it because the way my mind works is
I always think of things in stereo pairs or trying to retain the polar
response of the sound source. It's very important to me because you know
I think it's an important part of the emotional value of the instrument.
: Which means every time you record a voice or an instrument you lay it
on two tracks?
except - (01: 00: 30 ) I always tell my students there's only one rule
in music recording: there are no rules! That is the only thing to remember,
there are no rules. there's no wrong way to do anything and as long as
it elevates the emotional value of the music and accomplishes drama or
theatre or enhances the music, there is no wrong way. I don't believe
in that er...you want to know the technical values and so on...so you
can make the most of your equipment and take it the furthest. But I don't
believe in any such thing as the wrong way because i'll push everything
to the absolute edge to see what it'll do. and some people see what I
do as certain devices sometime and they'll just shrink back in horror,
especially if they're technically oriented or something, because i'm a
little bit oriented technically.
01: 44 ) I'm not certainly like my pal george massenburg who...he's the
guy I go to when there's a question, a technical question that I have
something deep, something really deep that I need an answer to, I call
george. Now frequently I don't understand what he tells me but he is the
guy that knows. George Massenburg is incredible and he's made such a contribution
to this industry.
: But getting back to microphone technique and so on... (01: 02: 08 )
pairs is to me very important but I will also record single tracks when
I want, what I call a point source image. In other words, if you want
to have a sound source come from the sonic field in one specific spot
then I will record it monophonically and it will come from a point source
so er...you know, there is no hard and fast rule to that. (01: 02: 39
) What I don't believe in though is what I call two channelled mono. some
people record what they think is stereo and is merely 2 channel mono and
there's a big difference. The first thing you have to remember is to try
to preserve the polar response of the sound source is in many cases the
upmost by importance and by that you try to mix it in such a way that
the informations that come back from the speakers retains as much as that
sound field value as you possibly can.
: (01: 03: 22 ) Let's go back to your relationship with quincy jones and
what happens in the studio. how do you work together?
Quincy and I work together from 1958 for er...a couple, three years. Did
a lot of wonderful projects in Chicago: Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn,
several other things too and then Quincy went to europe, he went to France.
Then after that he moved to new york so we lost track of each other for
quite a (01: 03: 53 ) few years and then in 1975 we hooked up again -
my god, that's 15 years ago - we hooked up again and we did the brothers
johnson for a&m, so we did the brothers Johnson, Lesley Gore and George
Benson. You know we did Quincy albums and of course we did Michael Jackson
and er...i think the way Quincy and I work in the studio - one of the
things that's really important to me is that we have a lot of fun while
we're doing it - and I think it shows in the music and we both love good
food. (01: 04: 47 ) A lot of our conversation, a lot of the way we describe
musical values we use culinary terms and so on...and for instance Quincy
will say: "ok that sounds great but add a little spice to that sound or
add a little garlic salt or something" and instinctively i'll know what
he's talking about.
a lot of people comment when they see quincy and I working in the studio
that we don't talk much, and we really don't. Now that you know, when
you really think about it and we've been together so long that a lot of
it is just like a sixth sense and we know how each other's minds work.
: (01: 05: 28 ) What does it mean like make it a little spicy?
it means add a little bit of high end or if it's spicy you might want
to harmonizer in it or add a little special effect to it or something.
But the music will tell you what garlic salt means and what it needs.
(01: 05: 53 ) If I learned anything about music or anything and the values
and the ethics of music it's from quincy. Esthetics of musical quality.
Because if you think about it - who is there else like quincy? I mean
he's totally one of a kind. There's no one!
: (01: 06: 15 ) There is an incredible cast of characters on "back on
the block" how long did it take you to record that? how did you manage
to get all those people to work in the same direction?
06: 40 ) Oooh boy! Actually it was fun there's something like a 150 tracks
of drums involved in that production of "back on the block", of the title
song "back on the block". It's er...there's an african set of drums, there's
a rap set of drums and there is a 7 or 8 different set of drums and of
course I had to sort all that out and do what I call premixing of some
of them, and all the different sounds and characters and the treatments.
It requires a lot of home work and a lot of soul searching to make it
all fit. but I think it works rather well.
: (01: 07: 18 ) And so tell us some stories about you and quincy in the
well, we have so much fun and every now and then quincy will make lunch,
that's fun! (01: 07: 37 ) It takes quincy 45 minutes to make a chicken
sandwich - he'll get the chicken have it sent over from greenblats(?)
or somewhere and get roast chicken and get the mayo and then he'll order
the bread and the whole thing. He'll take a little piece of bread and
spread the butter and mayo on every little square inch. he goes about
that just the way he does with the music. Every square millimeter and
then the chicken has to be all torn apart and fitted just right and everything.
so it's great fun and er...other..you know the musical integrity is total.
it's just fantastic. (01: 08: 28 ) Stories, fun stories about quincy are
about he's not knowing how to drive a car.
08: 38 ) Quincy never learned how to drive a car. I mean literally
he cannot drive a car and so when Quincy moved from New York to Los Angeles
Quincy said : "Now I have to learn" and he must have been 40 or something."
I must have to learn how to drive a car because in New York, it doesn't
really matter. You know you can get around". So he came to california,
to Los Angeles and went to a driving school, he signed on for 13, all
the students went through the 13 week course and passed and got their
driving license except Quincy. And finally at the end of the course (and
quincy had tried and tried, he really wanted to get through the course)
the man that ran that driving course took him in the back room said "Quincy
you can't drive a car", and gave him his money back. But the up shot of
the whole thing, the thing that really makes it cute and Quincy-ish is
Quincy said "I can't get it together because the stop sign don't fall
on the down beats". ha! ha! so that's that! quincy doesn't drive so I
end up driving him home a lot. Also he got his own car but he has somebody
to drive it. So he's safe!
: What happens at the end of the session?
10:11) Yeah well er...he's got a great...yeah rob temperton, that's another
one that never learned to drive a car so you should see these two guys
when we're done with a session; maybe two or three in the morning and
you know they put this sad little face. And you know these guys are masters
of this, making you feel sorry for them, so you have to drive them home.
but i'm always happy to drive quincy home.
yes! About Quincy driving a new car?
11: 01 ) Ok! Another great driving story about quincy that just tickles
me and just tells you a little bit about quincy's wonderful character
and this silly personality is:
11: 18 ) Quincy bought a new car and so we're at the studio one morning
getting ready for the gig, and quincy comes rolling into the control room
and says: "come on guys!" I think rod temperton was there and er...i can't
remember who else, herbie hancock and says: "come on guys, I got my new
car. Let's all go for a ride!" of course we all knew about quincy's ability
or non-ability so we looked at each other in horror, so we figured we
should go along with it anyway.
we go out to the parking lot and there's quincy new beautiful shiny car.
So he hops in the driver's seat, hooks up his seat belt and motions for
us to get in the car. of course, the first thing we try to do is fasten
the seat belt, we're worried. So he starts up the car...hum, hum!!! turns
up the air conditionning, go it blowing it freezing, cranks up the stereo
and everything and we sit there like that for a while, turns off the stereo,
turns off the air conditionning, stops the motor, turns around and looks
at us and says: "happening, isn't it?" and we never left the parking place!
12: 34 ) That is such fun but that shows you...You know a little bit about
Quincy, we're always having a good time. Quincy is one of those guys when
he comes in the room it changes. His presence is felt without saying a
word. going anywhere with quincy is a real party. He loves french wine,
I mean what's not to love but er...I've been travelling with quincy, I'd
be in new york or wherever, working on a picture or a record or something.
(01: 13: 12 ) He's found some bottle of french wine that he loves and
holds it like this...and I've been with him getting on an airplane and
his holding this god damn bottle of wine but you're not allowed to do
it! But of course being Quincy they let him do it and lunch comes and
he has his little bottle of wine and finishes it up. I think it tells
you a little bit about Quincy's personality.
: What about your drum sounds? (01: 16: 35 )
record a lot of my own drum sounds mainly kick and snare and i'm sort
of a frustrated drummer. I use to play drums and so I know how to make
the drum sounds, initially I can't play in time or anything but with modern
technology we don't have to. so here in my little studio at home i'll
bring in a dozen of drums and spend a day or two recording them on digital
tape and I then transfer them digitally into my drum machine and i'm very
very careful with these sounds. They're...they're recorded the way I want
them to sound and I try to make them fit in the music. (01: 17: 50 ) and
I did play several of the drum sounds on quincy's record and er...kick
can't remember exactly each song but er...I do an awful lot of that and
I absolutely love it. And I don't believe in stealing other people's sounds,
not for any reason that I don't want to sound like other people and because
I know they steal my sounds and i'm happy and flattered that I hear my
drum sounds on everybodies elses, not everybody but a lot of other people's
records but er...
18: 05 ) For instance the drum sounds on "man in a mirror" on Michael's
"bad" album is me playing a snare drum and I repitched it once I tuned
it up, recorded it digitally and on top of that I put the sound of a great
big pair of plywood squares being babted together and mixed those two
and that what makes the snare drum sound in "a man in a mirror" and then
the kick drum in "a man in a mirror" is a big noble and cooly kick drum
that I recorded and put in my sampler and then played it as part of the
tracks. (01: 18: 40 ) So that worked out really well and to me that shows
where digital technology is a definite tool and we really make good use
of that. I still use analogue of course a lot in my work. I have a 16
track 2 inch machine that I use for recording drums and percussion because
I love the sound of it. it's just fantastic and one of the things to me,
i've always tried to listen to this little voice right here!
19: 28 ) Quincy calls it my belly button and that little voice which says:
"don't record that on digital, it isn't going to sound right" and so...as
a result I haven't been able to give up my analogue machines, I still
use analogue recording 16 track, I use it for drums and percussion and
24 track, I do a lot of vocal recording and orchestral recording on 24
track. Then what I do is transfer that analogue recording to digital and
from that point on, then manipulating the sound and the music is easy
and wonderful. And what digital does, well at that point of this process
is so dramatic and so wonderful is that there's really nothing to talk
about, nothing to discuss on that stand point.
a lot of times digital recording on the human voice for instance I really
don't like what it does. (01: 20: 24 ) I almost never record voice direct
to digital, it has a..i don't know if it's the artifacts that are acquired
during the process, but it doesn't sound right to me. So I have learned,
and i'll tell you something, this is something i've learned from quincy:
trust my instincts! Listen to that little voice and don't use, don't cerebralise
the music too much. Because it has to communicate, if music and the sonic
field that we create or that I create in pop music, if it doesn't communicate,
if it doesn't say something to you what good is it? (01: 21: 21 ) You
know, we don't make this music for scientists. They don't buy records!
: Do you use a click track when you work?
a lot of times we'll...I'll use a drum machine instead of a click track
so that it's not so clinical and not so mechanical sounding.
: And you remove the drum machine and put the drummer on it? (01: 21:
there's no rule, whatever the music wants what it gets. Amazing music,
a piece of music or a song has its own life. Once it's created and you
get it started it'll tell you but you have to listen to it. A lot of times
I've been in a situation when we've tried to record a brass section or
a synth part or something, and the song will just say to you: "i don't
want that!" and it doesn't work. don't try to force it, i've learned that.
I just did a thing with michael where I recorded a 40 pieces orchestra,
beautiful arrangments, gorgeous on a piece of music. the next day I listened
to it, it sounded terrible. he took this piece of music and took it right
to mgm and made it sound like a music score and it was beautiful. You
know it was well performed and well conceived and everything, it sounded
so...it took all the innocence away, and made it sound sophisticated and
this particular piece of music wouldn't have it.
: (01: 23: 08 ) Could you describe a typical session with Michael Jackson?
a lot of times on the songs I produced with michael, for instance, er...it's
wonderful, we'll decide on a piece of music to do and then I kind of get
to work on it on my own a little bit and then give michael a tape once
I get a rhythm track down and he'll say it's great but let's do this.....then
i'll go back and work on it some more. so it's kind of an in and out type
of thing. Michael is so professional, so wonderful to work with and doing
vocals with michael is an absolute joy. he's got ears for days and the
pitch and everything. Michael is polite and kind. You know, he'll say:
"can I hear a little more piano in the earphones please". And he'll say
thank you. this is an industry where you don't hear those words a whole
lot. (01: 24: 20 ) So for that reason I totally respect michael and the
musical integrity is so...well we usually listen to a composition and
a demo and we'll listen and decide whether or not we want to record it.
so from then on i'll get musicians in and we'll do an arrangment and record
it. Then we'll try michael's voice on it or try the structure to see how
it feels and everything and then once we get passed that initial bare
bones stage, once we get the overall structure right and it fits michael's
voice, then we start sweetening and overdubbing and finishing it. (01:
25: 08 ) So there is a stage in there where we are still experimenting
to get the right structure and the right feel so that this music with
what Michael will do with it.
: Can you tell us more about how Michael works and how he relates to the
people working with him?
never ran into anybody that works with michael and doesn't regard it as
a pleasant experience, it's just great. He's really easy to deal with
in the studio because
26: 05 ) When we record vocals, there's seldom more than four takes or
five on the lead vocal. then we'll sit there and make a couple of punches
but it's nothing. And another thing i've learned with recording michael
is i'll set up the vocal mike and i'll have michael perform singing on
my drum platform which is an eight foot square plywood unpainted platform
about eight inches off the floor, and then michael is on that. He'll sing
and one reason is that he dances when he sings and I love to have that
as part of the sound because first of all his time and his rhythm is impeccable
and even (01: 26: 50 ) when I do backgrounds, michael does little vocal
sounds and snaps his fingers and taps his foot. I keep a (?) of that as
part of the recording.
time I even made, for one of my seminars, I made a special mix of the
background vocals on "the way you make me feel", took all the band out
so that my class could hear all the sounds in there, and how they work
in the overall picture because when you put the rhythm section in there,
you can barely hear them, but they are really there, they're an important
part I think. (01: 27: 38 ) I would hate to record him and take
what I call the clinical approach and try to have it antiseptically clean
or something. I think it would loose a lot of its charm.
with quincy myself and michael has really been a wonderful experience
because not only do we work together well, but we're really friends and
it's a three men team and our votes count equally. That's the way it works,
it's easy, it's wonderful and we've had such a good time doing "Off The
Wall", "Thriller" and "Bad". Quincy has just formed a Quincy Jones entertainment
corporation so he's off doing TV. and movies, and producing and directing.
Doing things that he's wanted to do for years. Quincy is not working on
michael's new album.
producing three songs and coproducing a couple with Michael.
is very happy. I just spoke to him yesterday and he sounds great, he's
having the time of his lifz and happy as a pig in the mud. so i'm doing
a little different too...I'm producing and doing things in areas that
i've always wanted to be involved in. Building my beautiful studio here
at home just for my projects. (01: 30: 29 ) I won't be doing everything
here because my home is a sanctuary and I don't want to bring all my work
here, but a certain amount I want to be able to do here, really looking
forward to it.
by Marc Salama