Matt Forger article - studioexpresso Presents A Production Panel:
With Masters at Hot Zone NAMM, Aneheim, 2013
studioexpresso interview with Matt Forger
Matt at-a-glance: Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Paul McCartney,
Patti Austin, Missing Persons, Michael McDonald, James Ingram, Siedah
Garrett, Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg, John Landis, George Lucas,
Francis Ford Coppola, Giorgio Moroder, Larry John McNally, George
Duke, Patrick O'Hearn, Gilberto Gil, Simon Lynge, Rod Temperton,
Matt Forger started in music by mixing live sound for rock bands
in the Northeast. Not satisfied with the functionality, quality
or cost of commercially available gear, he designed and built his
own. Through this he discovered another outlet for his creativity:
devising and building sound systems. "This not only made the
difference in how each band or artist was able to reach out to an
audience, it also led to my being able to move up to designing and
constructing studios." Moving
to Los Angeles, he joined the staff at Westlake Studios where he
worked with producers Giorgio Moroder, Keith Forsey, Harold Faltermeyer,
and George Duke. This was followed by the opportunity to work with
Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, and Bruce Swedien, and become part
of "The A Team."
His work with Michael Jackson began on Thriller and continued with
Bad, Dangerous, HIStory, and Blood on the Dancefloor. Matt also
worked on the E.T. Storybook Album with Quincy Jones and Steven
Spielberg producing. Following the remarkable success of the Thriller
album, Matt worked on the groundbreaking Thriller video with director
John Landis. He then recorded and mixed the Captain EO Film and
then-revolutionary "4-D" attraction for Disney, produced
by George Lucas and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and oversaw
its installation at Disney theme parks worldwide.
The nature of
Matt's involvement with Michael Jackson is wide-ranging. He not
only provided a technical foundation, but also a relaxed studio
environment in which the creativity of the artist could flourish
-- something that was crucial because of the way Michael would write
and develop songs and arrangements. "This process of experimentation,
exploration of sound, and application of new technologies is always
challenging, but can also be most rewarding," says Forger.
came time to add bonus tracks and re-master the Michael Jackson
catalog, Matt got the call. He was heavily involved in the "Special
Edition" album versions of Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad and
Dangerous, as well as "The Ultimate Collection" 5-disk
Matt has worked extensively with Japanese superstar Yuming. Already
a top-selling artist in Japan, with numerous hit albums, Yuming
and her producer, Masataka Matsutoya, were looking for a new sound.
Matt not only brought about a new sound, but new production techniques
as well. Their first collaboration doubled the sales figures of
any previous Yuming album, and was the first of 15 albums on which
Matt was recording engineer, mixer, and co-producer. Thirteen of
these albums entered the Billboard chart at #1. Matt has also received
2 "Gold Disc Awards" (Grammy Equivalent) for his work.
The Los Angeles singer/songwriter community, with its many new and
promising artists, is an area of strong interest for Matt, where
he is a consultant for the creative recording arts. The basis for
his work is the emotional content of the recording. "Remembering
that music is a form of emotional communication is important"
Matt says, "Too many people view recording as a technical experience.
It is important to understand technology and be able to control
and it, but it's the music at center stage. It's the song people
remember, not the recording system." One
indie artist, Simon Lynge, actually held off recording his album,
"Beautiful Way To Drown," until he was able to put the
team together that made him comfortable. The team: Matt Forger and
Jon Mattox (The Young Dubliners) who joined with Simon to co-produce
his CD which was recently picked up by London's Lo-Max Records,
home of Australian legends The Go-Betweens (and front-man Robert
Forster's brilliant "The Evangelist"), New York rockers
The Wrens and British psychedelic pioneer Kevin Ayers.
Adept at recording many styles and genres, he enjoys recording in
a classic format with exciting new results. Matt calls it 'reality
recording,' a live to 2-track recording style that uses a carefully
placed single stereo microphone and a high quality signal path.
It is capturing the moment of a great performance, and putting the
listener there in the environment to share the experience. "It
is especially well suited to acoustic performances," Forger
states, "and it is elegant in its simplicity." Matt
is very familiar with what some people call "the process"
-- generating singles, videos, dance remixes, international versions
and promotional materials, approval of mastering and test pressings,
versions for film and television appearances, and cataloging and
maintaining an archive of all materials. These are just some of
the responsibilities that Matt has overseen.
Nowhere does the Matt Forger approach come into such clear focus
as in his work with Larry John McNally. Within the music business,
McNally is best known as the writer of songs for the Eagles, Rod
Stewart, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Joe
Cocker, Aaron Neville, Staples Singers, The Temptations, Jennifer
Warnes, and many others. What some listeners have also discovered
is that McNally is a recording artist with a dedication to exploring
multiple facets of rock, folk, blues, new age, and instrumental
compositions. "Working with Larry John on these recordings
has been both challenging and exciting," notes Matt, "and
it is fulfilling to work with an artist whose goal is to capture
a unique sound every single time he enters the studio."
Photo: by The C
It has been
pointed out that there is no "Matt Forger sound" because
his skill lies in letting the artist's true nature emerge through
the recording process. Therefore, artists can count on Matt to let
their vision burst forth without the coloration of extraneous points
of view. "I am here to bring out the greatness in you,"
is frequently quoted in "Man in the Music: The Creative Life
and Work of Michael Jackson" by Joseph Vogel, published by
l-r: Jolene Pellant (manager),
Mike Gormley (manager), Allison McGourty (Lo-Max Records), Simon
Lynge, Matt Forger (producer), Bernard McMahon (Lo- Max Records).
Current Credits:This year Michael
Jackson "performed" at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards,
in holographic form, and just like when Tupac was resurrected for
Coachella a few years ago, not everyone is happy about it. Is this
the beginning of the end for flesh and blood entertainers? Let us
hear your view.
The selection of "Slave to the Rhythm" for the hologram
performance was made late last year; Jackson associates the Talauega
brothers and Jamie King were brought in to choreograph and direct
the video, which was produced by Pulse Evolution and Tricycle LogicSimon
Lynge held off recording Beautiful Way To Drown until
he was able to put the team together that made him comfortable.
The team: Matt Forger and Jon Mattox (The Young Dubliners) who joined
with Simon to co-produce his CD which was recently picked up by
London's Lo-Max Records, home of Australian legends The Go-Betweens
(and front-man Robert Forster's brilliant "The Evangelist"),
New York rockers The Wrens and British psychedelic pioneer Kevin
Ayers. "The new album features eight brand new recordings.
A Deluxe Edition of XSCAPE will include a selection of the recordings
in their original form. The
title of this album honors Michael's album naming process,"
says Matt Forger who takes us inside the studio in this exclusive
sneak peak from the
XSCAPE album documentary which is available only on XSCAPE Deluxe