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Thread: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

   
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    Default Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Hey guys, I guess I'll start this thread here. I was sent this interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Magazine from around 1995. Its a great read. Its translated from French, so its a bit choppy at times, but its easy to understand, and Bruce say's some really amazing things about Michael and the album History, and provides some cool insight into Michael and his creative process. I agree wholeheartedly with everything he says. I'm going to have to post it in sections because its too long for one post.






    “Black & White” - December, January and February issue 1994/1995 NY City Nov. 5th 1994





    “Black &White: Bruce Swedien and MICHAEL JACKSONin studio inNew York, time has changed. After all those years of success in California, why is that change?

    Bruce Swedien: New Yorkis,cuz we had to take a break. We recorded the rest of the albums back in L.A., it was time to take a step back.We needed something new for HISTORY. Everything is so different in here. The fact it self we are entering the studio felt good, the sounds the street scent N.Y.CITY is a whole new source of inspiration. This is what we were looking for, and to tell you the truth the last earthquake was the last straw. ( Bob Jones who is about to leave the room interrupts Bruce laughing:What you really like here in N.Y.is,that you are coming to the studio in a limo!”)

    “Black &White: For how long have been in here?

    Bruce Swedien: We came to the studio on February the 5th.

    “Black &White:Compared to the studios in California, how is the HIT FACTORY doing?

    Bruce Swedien: This is the best studio in the world...for real...

    “Black &White: Even though it doesn't have your famoust mixer, this unbelievable machine, is known for the greatest in the world?
    Bruce Swedien: Yes, it was the best in the world. It had 80 tracks for recording, but i built a new one, it is here in front of you. Now this is the biggest mixing table in the world, it has 96 tracks, which can be used for recording of a symphonic orchestra using a single track for each instrument.

    “Black &White: When you leave NY you are taking it with you, correct?

    Bruce Swedien: Nope, it stays here, i made it and it belongs to the studio.

    “Black &White:Isn't it weird to see you here atHIT FACTORY, when couple of blocks down the road is the brand new SONY studio?

    Bruce Swedien: Some people expected us to be seen in there, it is true. The SONY studio is brand new, but it doesn`t mean it is better than this one. Michael prefers HIT FACTORYbecause of personal issues he has. When he is here, he knows no one will be here bothering him .At SONY's is way much more different. A lot of people are coming and going. This is not the surrounding of Michael.

    “Black &White: You have been working on the new album for 9 months already. The project must have some kind of a shape already?

    Bruce Swedien: For now we are talking about a double CD The first CD is going to be GREATEST HITS, the second one new songs.

    “Black &White: I heard something about 5 - 7 new titles, but obviously they'll be more?

    Bruce Swedien: It has always been possible for us to create a whole new album. We've always been leaving the door opened for that kind of stuff.

    “Black &White:SONY MUSICmust be hurting because of that. Upon what conditions they might be able to built the promotional campaign, if you keep changing direction?


    Bruce Swedien: We really drive them insane.

    “Black &White: How is the selection for the new songs done? How's got the last word?

    Bruce Swedien: Michael has it. Майкъл. He's the only one who makes the decision. Im giving him my opinion, but he would not let anyone do the final cut. In the studio there is a little board over which we put stickers. On each one of them, there is a name of the new song. That board is the final selection of the songs the album will contain. Every day Michael changes the place of the stickers. He takes a song off, replaces it with another, changes the order of the titles... Every time I look at the board, something has been changed. That has been going on for months and it will be going until Michael makes the perfect selection.

    “Black &White: So, HISTORYwill be 50% GREATEST HITSand 50% new material?

    Bruce Swedien: In fact, yes, this is the point we are aiming at.

    “Black &White: Is it possible for us to expect some versions of the Michael's classics remixed?

    Bruce Swedien: I don`t believe that people who are buying the CD, would want to hear remixes. It wouldn't be loyal from us. Anyway, would be possible for a person to make a remix of a song like Billie Jean for example? No. That's not the deal...

    “Black &White: What would you say about the remixed singles from theDANGEROUS album?

    Bruce Swedien: Some of them are done well, but overall I don`t like them. Songs which have been remixed have the tendency to butcher the original.

    “Black &White: So, the fans won't find anything new in the GREATEST HITS, which will be inHISTORY?

    Bruce Swedien: It is not quite like that. if you are familiar with Michael's set list, you will be surprised. We haven't mixed the old classic versions, but what we did was - we took off the old tapes of the songs and re-recorded them again. The purity of the record is amazing. You are going to re-discover songs like Thriller, for example.

    "Black &White:Isn't the selection of the classics which will be in HISTORYcheating, a lot of songs deserve to be in the album?

    Bruce Swedien: This is a dilemma all the time. May be we could make something like a "to be continued" of HISTORY, so we won't cut off some of the really good songs.




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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    so he's the "little white guy" who came up with the intro of OTW!

    10 points to the first person who gets that


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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Part II:


    ВLACK&WHITE: It is 3pm now, you showed up first in the studio, Michael hasn't come yet. How are your days look like since you started?

    Bruce Swedien : Usually im coming around noon. I am setting the schedule and everything up. Michaelcomes at 1 o'clock. We start working almost right away. We are leaving the studio when it's already dark out. Most of the days we are not saying up until late.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Is Michael driving on his way here?

    Bruce Swedien : Yes, but he never drives in New York. He is not familiar with the roads and there is a person who drives him.

    ВLACK&WHITE : For how long have you 2 been working together?

    Bruce Swedien : The first song him and me worked on was “East on down the roadin 1978. Quincy Jones was writing the music for the movieTHE WIZ and was his sound guy. This is how I met Michael.

    ВLACK&WHITE : In all these years, you've been able to see more than anyone else, what type of performer Michaelis, and how he is doing his job...

    Bruce Swedien : There is something they say about Michael and it is true - he is perfectionist, and he is a hard worker.

    ВLACK&WHITE : How is he writing the songs? When he has the music in his head, what happens next?

    Bruce Swedien : There are two ways when he has and idea for a song - he either sings it to a tape recorder and then plays it to everyone else afterwards, or he makes a demo playing it on the piano.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Does he play good?

    Bruce Swedien : He is good enough to make a demo.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Then what?

    Bruce Swedien : Then the musicians try to play whatever Michaelhas sung. Sometimes there is a professional who comes along to make touch-ups, like Stive Porkaro for example, who was here for the new album.

    ВLACK&WHITE : What does Michael expect from the musicians he works with?

    Bruce Swedien : Actually, Michael is very simple and clear. He knows what exactly he wants to hear, but sometimes he has to give a right-a-way to some of the musicians, because he wants to hear something more different. That happened to Slash, Michael invited him in person.

    ВLACK&WHITE : What extent is Michael neat to in the producing of the songs?

    Bruce Swedien : Michael presents from the beginning to the end of making of the songs. He tries to follow the stages, to understand everything...

    ВLACK&WHITE : Does he ever interfere with your field?

    Bruce Swedien : He is interested, but never interferes. He wants to know everything, but doesn`t want to do everything! He understands the borders.



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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Part III:


    ВLACK&WHITE : It's known that Michael writes a lot of songs every time when he works on an album.For the BADalbum he had 80, and for DANGEROUS 60 songs.

    Bruce Swedien : True that. Michael always brings new songs to the studio. For HISTORYhe wrote 30-ishsongs.

    ВLACK&WHITE : What is happening with the songs, which won't be included?

    Bruce Swedien : They are going in the "safe"...

    ВLACK&WHITE : So, there is a "safe" somewhere, which contains hundreds of songs never heard before?

    Bruce Swedien : We have a small one here in New York, but in LA is the bank with all of the Michael titles. What we have in stock is recorded and kept in a computer and there are a hundred songs, or even more than a thousand. Michael writes non-stop, all the time he has ideas for songs.There are hundreds of tapes Michael has something recorded on in our archives. From the small micro tape where is just a melody to the tape on which is the song ready to be released. Most of all there are only demos.

    ВLACK&WHITE : And what is going on with all of those songs?

    Bruce Swedien : They are waiting their turn. One day they will be re worked or left just as they are.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Is HISTORYgoing to be like BADand DANGEROUSmost of it written by Michael.

    Bruce Swedien : Definitely. Michael composes almost all of the songs from the new album.

    ВLACK&WHITE : What is it we can expect?

    Bruce Swedien: Something extraordinary. I think withHISTORY Michael will get the respect, he deserves as a singer and composer.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Don`t you think he is been respected for those features already?

    Bruce Swedien: No. Michael is been respected by the audience. He is very popular, but he is not recognized as a great composer yet. I hope that with HISTORY people will discover his talent.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Would you compare HISTORY to his other previous albums.

    Bruce Swedien : HISTORYhas already become my favorite album. In my opinion this is the best Michael has ever done. His singing in some of these songs are amazing. He has never been that far before.

    ВLACK&WHITE : What about the songs?

    Bruce Swedien : Michael wrote 2 songs forHISTORY, which I would say are the best he has ever created... Words of those songs are the most personal and the most beautiful he has ever written. He went above and beyond him self. The horrible things he went thru lately inspired him a lot...

    ВLACK&WHITE : HISTORYis not out yet, but he is your favorite already! In that way of thinking isn't his last one your number one album?

    Bruce Swedien : May be! It is true that your favorite would be the newest, the latest. But to tell you the truth, I think Michael has never done anything at that high level as long as the lyrics, music and vocal performances are concerned. I hope that people will appreciate and respect that. Michael is one international treasure.

    ВLACK&WHITE : These 2 songs you mentioned, what do they look like?

    Bruce Swedien : The first one is pretty personal. In this song Michael explains he was not allowed to have a childhood, that he lost it, his voice is awesome in it. The second one is different. Michael wrote it in Moscow, when he was on tour. He was alone and tortured by the false accusations against him. He expressed his feelings writing wonderful words (BLACK &WHITE: Bruce sings us the song he thinks is lovely).
    The songs starts off with the sound of rain, this is the rain of Moscow, the rhythm is very complexed...there is an infinity of small sounds merged together, Michael makes drums (percussions) with his mouth.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Recently we found out that one of the songs, which will be in HISTORYwill be titled ”Earth Song”(after a lot of negotiations with Bob Jones we got the approval of stating the name of one of the songs on the new album).

    Bruce Swedien : You are well prepared! In fact, yes, there is a song called“EARTH SONG”. This is a song from the upcoming album, even though we haven`t recorded the final version. Michael has to add couple more words to the refrain...This song will become classic. Michael's capabilities are so vast, he did amazing things forHISTORY. In another song from the album, for example, he sang with all symphonic orchestra. He entered the studio with 80 musicians, they played their part and Michael sang in front of them. There was no interruption, it was unbelievable.


    ВLACK&WHITE : Which song are you talking about?

    Bruce Swedien : About the song dedicated to Charlie Chaplin.

    ВLACK&WHITE : So, the version we will be listening to, was recorded live and without interruption?

    Bruce Swedien : We wanted to do that from the very beginning and we could've done it, because the performance was unbelievable, but Michael is such as perfectionist that he wanted to get back to the studio and sing his part again. He always wants everything to be perfect.


    ВLACK&WHITE : ...Anyways, what do you think, nowadays how many performers are able to record a song together with a symphonic orchestra live? What do you think?


    Bruce Swedien : None! I can't see any. Michael's the only one! When you check this song out, you will find out to what extent his voice could be magical.

    ВLACK&WHITE : It's know for Michael when he records in the studio, that he shuts all of the lights down and he dances...

    Bruce Swedien : Most of the people do that. It's done so they can focused on the performing.Michael does it as well, he prefers to be surrounded by darkness, except for that little light for the list in front of him, but it doesn't allow us to see him. Sometimes he dances...

    ВLACK&WHITE : Today we found out that Janet Jackson has been in NY for couple of days. Did she stop by to hang out with Michael yet?

    Bruce Swedien : To tell you the truth I must say that there is going to be a song by two of them on the CD... She was here yesterday accompanied by Terry Luis and Jimmy Jemm, who are the producers of the song.

    ВLACK&WHITE : That was expected by everyone, and should've happened sooner or later, one day or another. How is the recording of the song going on? How is the work going between them?

    Bruce Swedien : It is a lot of fun to watch. They won't sing together, they would rather watch the other one sings, so they are taking turns to go and sing!

    ВLACK&WHITE : What about the work with Jimmy Jemm and Terry Luis?

    Bruce Swedien : Awesome! They are professionalsand it's great working with them.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Bob Jones told us Prince stopped by awhile ago, what's up with that?!?

    Bruce Swedien : This is true, Prince came to the studio. He was passing by, stopped in and wanted to see Michael...he hung around and heard a few songs...

    ВLACK&WHITE : Did he like them?

    Bruce Swedien : He said they were good.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Ok, you meet with so many famous people and musicians, doesn't that make you work with other performers except for Michael?

    Bruce Swedien : No! Once you've worked with Michael, you wouldn't want to do business with anyone else. I got the chance to work with the most famoust names from the contemporary scene, but the biggest contribution to me were these three - Duke Elington, Quincy Jones, and Michael Jackson.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Do you think there is someone out there who might become the new Michael Jackson after couple of years?

    Bruce Swedien : No, there is no such person. Often I hear people say: "Hey check this one out, this is the new Michael Jackson" 6 months later that person disappears and you dont hear anything about him anymore. Michael's the only one.

    ВLACK&WHITE : Michael is married now. What do you think about his marriage with Lisa-Marrie Presly?

    Bruce Swedien : This marriage is not for commersial purposes. This marriage is pretty serious thing and Im gladto see him happy finally. Lisa Marie is great, they feel very good together. They are inseparateble. She comes very often to the studio. It feels good to me, seeing that, because of that relationship Michael has changed.

    ВLACK&WHITE : After you've worked with the greatest people and the greatest person, are there anything else you dream of?

    Bruce Swedien : There is always I dream about, to start work on something new with Michael...

    ВLACK&WHITE : Haven't you reached your limit yet?

    Bruce Swedien : No, because the greatest challenge has been always ahead of us, we would never give up following the dream, ever...



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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    im gonna read this when I get more time but thanks for posting
    Read my Michael Jackson blog! Write only about Michael!

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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck Bee3ee View Post
    so he's the "little white guy" who came up with the intro of OTW!

    10 points to the first person who gets that
    Since Bruce isn't German, we still don't know who the little white guy is. I thought it could be some kind of drummer, but the one credited on RWY doesn't have a German name (John Robinson), so who knows...

    I prolly don't get the 10 points though :p


    Thanks for posting this interview wannabe, I remember reading it way back when. The B&W gang were even given a first listen to Earth Song, Childhood and Smile that day.

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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    This is awesome thanks for posting! I wish I had internet access then
    I LOVE YOU MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSON. ALWAYS AND FOREVER

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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    He was talking about Rod Temperton when he said that! He says his name right at the beginning of the clip :lol:
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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Rod isn't German though, he's British. I know that some of the Heatwave band members were German, but as far as I've read they moved to England to team up with Rod. That's what's puzzling me about who MJ is actually referring to.
    Last edited by noumene; 14-11-2007 at 08:13 AM.

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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Nicole a big kiss to you on the cheek for sharing this interview with us.I just personally love to hear about the creative process. They referred to Michael doing "percusion with his mouth", which obviously means beatboxing, so that percusion sound we hear at the beggining of SIM is actually Michael beatboxing? Or was the guy listening to a demo?
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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    I'm not sure what you asked, Bongani, but far as I know that's the way Michael works, most of the time he beatbox his songs out

    look an example here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i0c12e4PJ8

    WBSS, thanks for the interview! I have THAT number of B&W, in fact I've got many numbers of that outstanding magasine.

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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Quote Originally Posted by Mungurl View Post
    I'm not sure what you asked, Bongani, but far as I know that's the way Michael works, most of the time he beatbox his songs out
    Yeah I know he beatboxes his songs out mungurl and thanx for the link but what I'm asking is: On the album version of SIM, is Michael beatboxing? Or did he just beatbox on the SIM demo.If you read the interview, the interviewer says that the song starts with "The sound of rain" and Michael does a "Percusion sound with his mouth" Was the guy listening to a demo or the album version. The album version sounds like real percusion, so it confuses me when the guy says Michael is doing the sound, unless he's listening to a demo?

    I hope thats more clearer..
    Last edited by BONGANI; 14-11-2007 at 10:55 AM.
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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    ^
    The songs starts off with the sound of rain, this is the rain of Moscow, the rhythm is very complexed...there is an infinity of small sounds merged together, Michael makes drums (percussions) with his mouth.


    This is what you're talking about? Of course is Michael!!

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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Quote Originally Posted by Mungurl View Post
    ^

    This is what you're talking about? Of course is Michael!!
    I know his beatboxing is incredible, but you're telling me that on the album version of SIM that its actually Michael himself beatboxing? But that sounds like real percusion, real beats, no way! Get someone else to back you on this..
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    Default Re: Interview with Bruce Swedien from Black & White Mag. 1995

    Quote Originally Posted by MJsPanda View Post
    He was talking about Rod Temperton when he said that! He says his name right at the beginning of the clip :lol:
    oh crap! :lol: i messed up the names... i just couldn't believe mike called somebody a "little white guy"


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