Morris Pleasure's Production Masterclass- With The Guardian
Aspiring music producers were given the unbelievable opportunity to have a 2.5 hour talk with live demonstrations from renowned music producer and performer Morris Pleasure. Hearing stories of his experiences working with musicians as legendary as Michael Jackson, it was rather extraordinary that such a success was brought so near to us ordinaries thanks to The Guardian newspaper and their series of masterclasses. This was also in association with “MuseFlash”, an organization who aims to connect the “brightest stars [of the industry] to the earth,” supported by Pleasure’s manager Ilana Lorraine.
Pleasure’s array of anecdotes really demonstrated what a talented and intelligent musician and producer he is. Most notably, his recollections on touring and working with Michael Jackson demonstrated this, filled with humorous notes and loving memories, remembering Jackson for the true talent and kindheart he was, yet simultaneously teaching the audience about music production through these stories. For example, recalling rehearsals for Jackson’s This Is It Tour, Pleasure explained how sound had to be pre-recorded and put on the keyboard; the difficult and impressive part being that the keys had to be pressed at the precise moments that Jackson performed certain actions, therefore being different every night, requiring the musicians to be alert at all times; whether it be in time to Jackson’s footsteps, in time to when he “throws a fireball,” and other unpredictable elements to the performance. When Jackson needed to sing in a different key, all the sounds on the keyboard had to be readjusted and often re-learnt by the musicians to adjust to the requirements.
The session’s main feature was Pleasure’s “Demo Drop”. Participants of the masterclass were asked to send in advance a track that they had produced, and Pleasure then picked 10 of these to demonstrate mixing techniques on mix the track further spontaneously, using software Logic Pro 9 and a MIDI keyboard. However, what was rather special about Pleasure’s mixing is that he demonstrated how to turn just a demo into a professional track that sounded ready for commercial release primarily with the use of instruments, sounds, and music, as opposed to the taking an obsession with the technical mixing process. This highlighted to all the producers and performers in the room what the real definition of mixing should really be; merely enhancing an already spot-on performance, as opposed to adding excessive effects to create the desired sound, which is what unfortunately seems to be the common case in the industry today. Pleasure also explicitly demonstrated the advantage of being a knowledgeable musician when being a producer, as the importance given to the musicality of a song is heightened further, and therefore creating a more musically credible end production.
It was inspiring to be working so closely and directly with such a successful musician and producer as Pleasure, learning so much about the industry through pure observation and listening- a teaching method which is more agreeable when learning how to master a creative process, rather then having particular steps dictated to us. The Guardian run series of masterclasses throughout the year in many creative industries, with the most successful in the industry leading the sessions. I would highly recommend stepping into the glamorous offices for some of these, as they provide rare chances to connect and work with industry professionals.