Source: Damien Shields
The King of Pop’s longtime recording engineer, Matt Forger, will join forces with the pop icon’s former studio technical director, Brad Sundberg, in Orlando this Saturday (February 8, 2014) for an extra-special installment of Sundberg’s ‘In The Studio With MJ’ music seminar.
“I’m terribly excited and I feel fortunate that I am able to come on board with what Brad has initiated and what he has created,” said Forger. “To be able to do this with Brad is going to be a lot of fun. When we worked together with Michael we got along famously.”
Forger brings a fresh new dynamic to the seminar, having worked intimately on the “Thriller” album (1982) and Captain EO film soundtrack (1986) – both of which were completed before Sundberg joined the team. These two projects will be where Forger focuses most of his energy.
“This is real-deal stories and music from the man who was there for Thriller, and who recorded and mixed Captain EO,” said Sundberg on his ‘In The Studio With MJ’ Facebook page.
Following the completion of Captain EO, Sundberg and Forger worked both together and separately on a range of iconic Jackson projects including the “Bad,” “Dangerous,” “HIStory,” and “Blood on the Dance Floor” studio albums, as well as video mixes, dance mixes, world tours, and more.
Believe it or not, Forger, whose highly-coveted career centred largely around his ability to bring the musical ideas Michael Jackson was hearing in his head to fruition in the studio, never studied music or recording.
“Instead I studied fine arts,” explained Forger in an exclusive interview conducted for this article. “And all the time that I worked on projects with Quincy, or with Michael, I tried to learn as much about what they were doing as possible, so that I could continue to get better at what I did.”
“When different people would work with Michael, everyone would work in a slightly different style,” recalled Forger. “Bruce Swedien was the person whose sound was the RnB sound. The big, beautiful, pulsating bass. The beautiful ballads. Bill Bottrell’s sound was the quirky songs and the rock n roll songs. And then when Teddy Riley worked with him he had the New Jack Swing sound. Bryan Loren’s style and sound was really quite funky.”
“And I realised that when I came to work with Michael, I didn’t bring a sound. Because of my studies in fine arts and creativity it was my goal to understand what was in Michael’s head, and how his creativity was forming the songs, and to try to pull that out and to remain faithful to what was in Michael’s head and capture that character. It’s what I call acting as a facilitator. It wasn’t my goal to say ‘Oh how about we get it sounding like this Michael.” It was more like ‘Michael, how to we get this sound the way you’re imagining it?’”
The key to capturing the magic was, as Michael Jackson often said himself, to get out of the way of the music and let the music write itself. Forger tells how he made a conscious effort not to get in the way of the music.
“When I worked in the studio with Michael, and I worked many years with him, I always felt I didn’t want to analyse it,” explains Forger. “I didn’t want to disturb the vibe. Because what I found about working in the studio is you have to be in the moment – especially working with Michael. You have to be in the moment with him, and I thought that if I thought about it too much I might disturb that.”
Forger’s contributions to ‘In The Studio With MJ’ on Saturday will by no means be his first public speaking engagement. The seasoned engineer has previously spoken about the music industry, and his work with Michael Jackson, on a variety of panels, in workshops and at seminars, and is looking to continue sharing his wealth of knowledge with new audiences.
“I have recently begun examining and writing about my experiences and now I really want to pass this knowledge on,” says Forger. “To the college audiences. To those who are studying music and music recording, plus all students in general; because the lessons I’ve learned from working with Michael Jackson apply to whichever field it is that you wish to pursue. I cannot imagine a better person to use as an example of achieving success, of having work ethic, focus, motivation and discipline in creativity.”
“Recalling some of the musical moments from the making of this legendary music will be great fun for us and should be enlightening for everyone who attends,” said Forger in a recent press release. “It is going to be terrific to play some of the large number of mixes of tracks from all the projects we worked on. Brad and I have enjoyed so many different aspects of the creative process of Michael’s singles and albums and it will be exciting to share them.”
Sundberg has presented his ‘In the Studio with MJ’ sessions all over the world and says he loves the “no script” approach that concentrates on the “stories, music and home videos” of many extraordinary sessions.
“With the presentations of music, videos, personal behind-the-scenes stories and photos, this is a unique opportunity for people interested in the music industry, and in Michael Jackson in particular, to see, hear and learn what it was like to work side-by-side with a true music legend,” said Sundberg.
The seminar will take place from 12-noon to 8pm on Saturday, February 8 at Starke Lake Studios in Orlando and is strictly limited to 50 attendees.
“This event is ideal for anyone who is a fan of Michael’s music, or who is curious about how those albums were recorded and the staggering amount of tapes, tracks and time that was put into them,” Forger adds.
The entire presentation will be played through the exact speakers that many of Michael Jackson’s studio projects were mixed on. Dinner, featuring Jackson’s favorite foods, will also be provided in honor of him and his love of eating together, as a family.
Click here to book your tickets today!