Sources: IndieGoGo | All Things Michael
Bruce Swedien is the sound engineer best known for recording Michael Jackson. This is his story…
Who is The King of Sound?
Bruce Swedien is a legend in the music recording business. He has over 50 years experience recording many of the world’s greatest artists but he is best known for recording Michael Jackson’s hit albums including ‘Off the Wall’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’. This film is his story – a story of music and love…
“Early in my career I met a young dude at Universal Studios in Chicago by the name of Bruce Swedien, who seemed to share my excitement in creating recorded music that originated in our own imagination. We have been kindred spirits ever since” (Quincy Jones)
This documentary film is the story of the man who has been responsible for the sound of some of the greatest pop artists of the last 50 years – Bruce Swedien.
From Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole to Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, George Benson, Chaka Khan and more recently Jennifer Lopez – Bruce Swedien has been the man behind the legends. As America’s premier sound engineer, winner of 5 Grammys and nominated for 13, with a 30 year partnership with the illustrious music producer Quincy Jones, Bruce is the man that major recording artists turn to in pursuit of the distinctive sound that results in top-selling albums.
It was Bruce, along with Quincy, who mixed and produced the biggest selling album of all time – Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
“I was really impressed at how prepared Michael was. I have never recorded Michael Jackson where he needed the lyric in front of him, it was always from memory. And another little funny thing about Michael – we always recorded in the dark…” (Bruce)
Bruce was a mentor figure for Michael from the outset and mixed his first adult solo album – Off The Wall. Together they created the unique sound that became Michael’s trademark and ensured his place in pop history.
“Michael was the greatest, I don’t think we’ll ever see anyone like him.” (Bruce)
Their relationship was not only professional, Bruce and his wife Bea were close to Michael throughout his career and became almost parental figures to him.
“When we met he was 17… he was so timid, he was afraid of his own shadow… he was just such an incredible guy, dear and sweet and the public should know that he was very special.” (Bea)
“Michael used to call and talk to me about the music, then he would say ‘Is Bea home?’ – and he’d talk to her for two hours!” (Bruce)
Bruce, now 80 and still working with major artists, has been married to Bea for over 60 years and credits her as a fundamental factor in his success. Bea was always part of Bruce’s studio life becoming good friends with many of the musicians and singers. She’s encouraged and supported him since the early days when he first worked with Count Basie at Universal Studios in Chicago. Theirs is a timeless love story.
“She’s made my life what it is and made it possible for me to do what I’ve done.” (Bruce)
“We’ve just had such a lovely time together and it ain’t over yet!” (Bea)
Bruce grew up an unassuming white, middle-class boy from Minnesota with strong Swedish roots. He began working in a recording studio at the age of 19 and fell in love with making music. His parents were both musicians and instilled in him a love of the art form from an early age. As a result of Bruce’s grounding in classical music, his career went from strength to strength. He soon went on to work with some of the coolest, most cutting-edge musicians and artists from the 1950s through to the present day.
In this film Bruce recounts a wealth of fascinating anecdotes about the seminal musicians he has worked with over the last 50 years. He presents us with a unique insider’s account of how some of the world’s most celebrated music tracks were created. There will be something for everyone to enjoy in Bruce’s unashamed musical trip down memory lane. From jazz and swing to disco, pop and R&B, Bruce’s stories will be illustrated with archive footage, photos and the songs that are the soundtrack to our lives.
We have exclusive access to film Bruce at work in his Florida recording studio. He’s still in hot demand to deliver that special Swedien sound!
As well as our secured access to Bruce and his wife Bea, we are pursuing access to some the major artists and music professionals that Bruce has worked with.
This film will be a tribute to a remarkable man, his skill and his passion for music.
It’s also the story of how some of the most amazing tracks of all time were created.
It’s a film for fans of Michael Jackson, for fans of jazz, swing, disco, pop and R&B,
it’s a film for fans of music – everywhere.
“Music is the only true magic in life… I love making records… I have had a blessed life, definitely” (Bruce Swedien)
About Gareth Maynard
I am a film editor with numerous broadcast credits in the UK over my 25 year career. Most of my work is with the BBC and independent broadcasters and production companies. I have directed music promos and short documentaries; I have worked in feature film post production as a post production producer with credits on major theatrical releases. Alongside my film and TV work, I record music which is how I became interested in Bruce Swedien. Although I am based in the UK and the subject matter is very much American, the film will be of interest to anyone who loves pop music.
To move forward…
I have already invested a good deal of my own time and money into this project that I’m so passionate about. The funding I need to take this film further will help towards covering filming costs on the west coast of America, post-production costs and importantly licensing of music and archive material.
We have a range of interesting rewards from advance copies of the finished film through to producer status and being directly involved in shaping the final film.
Whether we achieve under or over our goal I intend to have this production completed by summer 2015. The more funds we can raise, the better the final production will look and the more of Bruce’s amazing colleagues and friends can be included.
Risks & Challenges
Bruce and Bea Swedien have welcomed me into their lives and became involved in this project idea with great enthusiasm. I have already filmed extensive interviews and B-roll footage with Bruce and Bea along with other famous friends such as Rod Temperton and Siedah Garrett.
There are a number of willing contributors to the film including some of Bruce’s closest colleagues, but pinning down busy people like Quincy Jones may not be simple. I will gather a small team allowing us to be flexible and mobile. We expect to resume filming in Spring 2015.
Licensing of materials including music, archive videos and photographs will take time and cost money. We are looking to making contact with Sony Music as they own the Michael Jackson catalogue. We will also approach the Jackson estate for their assistance. Bruce Swedien played a big part in Michael Jackson’s career so I am expecting his associates to be sympathetic to our requests.
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