143: Sonic Fantasy Special with Marcos Cabotá

Marcos Cabotá, film director and massive MJ fan, joins Jamon Bull, Elise Capron, Charlie Carter, and John Cameron to discuss his new documentary film, Sonic Fantasy. Currently debuting at film festivals around the world, Sonic Fantasy tells the story of iconic sound engineer and long-time Michael Jackson studio collaborator, Bruce Swedien, and the making of the Thriller album. The team discusses how Marcos rose up in the world of film, challenges and triumphs around making his documentary, what it was like working with Swedien and other people featured in the film, and his amazing stories as a long-time Michael Jackson fan, who got to meet the King of Pop many times.

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter and Jamon Bull.

Additional Links
• Sonic Fantasy documentary website. (As of our recording, the film is currently screening at film festivals and will be available on streaming services later this year.)
• John Cameron’s Musicology podcast.

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

142: Reflections on John Barnes Roundtable

Brad Buxer, Matt Forger, and Brad Sundberg join host Jamon Bull for a very special episode in remembrance of the late John Barnes. From Barnes’s early work with Jackson at Hayvenhurst, to deep-dive discussions around technical recording aspects and some of their collaborative works like the brilliant song “Another Part of Me”, Matt and the two Brads take you inside the studio. Not only did Barnes and Jackson share a deep friendship, but also a unique artistic partnership that resulted in musical masterpieces that will be enjoyed by fans forever.

John Barnes was a force in the music industry for over 50 years, having worked with an extensive list of music icons, from The Miracles, to Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, and, of course, the King of Pop. His work with the Jackson family started in 1976, and he connected with Michael Jackson in 1982. Barnes and Jackson’s meeting would launch a long and productive professional, creative, and personal relationship that would last decades. The two owned a company together, called Experiments in Sound, and John became a central part of Michael’s creative team. Early on, Barnes worked on the Jacksons’ “Victory” album, and worked extensively on “Captain EO”, including creating sounds for the film and co-writing the song, “We Are Here to Change the World”. His work with the synclavier was considered revolutionary, and was a massively important part of his recording work with Michael Jackson.

During the “BAD” album recording, Barnes worked daily at Hayvenhurst, alongside Bill Bottrell and Matt Forger. While often unfairly dubbed “The B Team”, and noted for creating demos, while Quincy Jones and Bruce Sweden did the main work on this album, the reality was that the Hayvenhust team was central to the creation of the album, producing nearly final versions of many of the songs, such as “Smooth Criminal” and “The Way You Make Me Feel”.

Barnes would also go on to have roles on Jackson’s later albums, as well, including “Dangerous”, “HIStory”, and “Blood on the Dance Floor”. He continued his work with Jackson through the very end of his career, even going to Bahrain in 2006 to work on the still-unreleased charity single, “I Have this Dream”.

Barnes, who passed away after a long illness on March 19, 2022, was not only an amazing musician and visionary, but he was passionate about humanitarian issues. This was a driving force in his close relationship with the King of Pop, and included important creative work, such as co-writing the song, “We Are The World”, which raised $50 million internationally to end hunger in Africa. He was full of genuine passion for his art, sometimes at the cost of not getting the credit he deserved. In this incredible discussion, Barnes’s colleagues and friends share memories and unique stories about him and the moments which made him a true icon.

The MJCast is deeply appreciative to our special guests on this episode, and sends our condolences to John’s family and friends. The world will not be the same without him.

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Guests
• Brad Buxer, who worked with Michael Jackson for 20 years, from the “Dangerous” album onwards through “Invincible”, and who became one of Michael’s closest production, music, and songwriting collaborators. He was also Musical Director for both the Dangerous and HIStory World tours. He has a close personal relationship with Michael into the final years of Michael’s life.
• Matt Forger, who worked with Michael Jackson starting with the “Thriller” album, where he was credited as a technical engineer, and continued to work on just about every project Michael did through the rest of his life. He also played a central roll in “Captain EO”. In addition, Matt is well-known for his many years of studio work with the Japanese superstar Yuming.
• Brad Sundberg, who was Michael Jackson’s Technical Director and studio engineer for 18 years, starting as an assistant on “Captain EO”, and also designed and built the extensive sound and lighting installations at Neverland. These days, Brad runs the seminar series, In the Studio with MJ, with events held around the world.

Additional Links
• John Barnes’ official website.
• Articles on the passing of John Barnes by Music Radar, MJWorld and MJVibe.

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

141: Janet Jackson Documentary Roundtable

The team is back for Season Eight of the The MJCast! Host Jamon Bull is joined by Charles Thomson, Charlie Carter, and Courtney Stribling and Cuzin Kam (co-hosts of the Janet Jackson podcast, Janet Today, Janet Tomorrow, Janet Forever) for a Roundtable to discuss the recent multi-part documentary series, JANET JACKSON. In this in-depth, lively chat, the guys and gals dissect their thoughts on pluses and minuses of the series, from the promos, to the rare footage, to representations of Janet, Michael, as well as other Jackson family members, and much more.

The MJCast team has a great season planned. Thank you for joining us!

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Additional Links
• 10 things we learned about Michael from the Janet Jackson documentary
• Links to listen to Janet Today, Janet Tomorrow, Janet Forever podcast

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

140: Season Seven Christmas Special

Elise Capron, Jamon Bull, Charlie Carter, Charles Thomson and Taj Jackson join forces to celebrate the holidays and reflect on this past year… Welcome to The MJCast’s annual Christmas Special!

Before getting into the bulk of the discussion topics, Jamon breaks the wonderful news that he and his wife Li are expecting Baby #2! The MJCast sends a special congratulations to Jamon, Li and Olivia.

The crew then discuss loads of news updates and developments in the world of Michael Jackson, including a new Jackson 5 music video, never-before-seen Dangerous album cover concept art and “MJ: The Musical” reviews. Conversation then shifts to looking back on the year that was, some of Taj’s unique stories and options MJ fans have when they want to respond to Twitter ‘blue ticks’ who drag Michael.

We would like to give a special thank you to the incredibly professional and hard working Charlie Carter for editing Season Seven of our podcast. Also, thank you to our amazing listeners for all your support throughout the year and hope that you enjoy our episodes coming up in Season Eight! Happy holidays, #MJFam!

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Discussion Topics
• The Jackson 5 Christmas song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” has received a new animated music video from Motown.
• Aerial photos of Neverland with new rides have surfaced.
• Mark Ryden has shared never-before-seen early concept art for the Dangerous album cover.
• Polo G has released an original song and video that’s a tribute to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal.
• “MJ: The Musical” review roundups. What seems to be the consensus? New York Times review. Bobby Huntley II review. Show’s cancelled now due to COVID.
• 2021: The year that was
• ‘Blue ticks’ that drag Michael. Should we call them out or starve them of attention? James Hall of The Telegraph tweeted this. Seany and Annika at MJInnocent called it out publicly through quoting it. Andy Healy expressed an alternate response, that of starving the journalist of attention. What’s the right thing to do? Call things out, or not?

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

139: Invincible 20 Roundtable

Released in 2001, Invincible was the seventh adult, solo studio album from Michael Jackson. Having released HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor in uncharacteristically quick succession, Jackson had then largely retreated from the limelight for four years, appearing only at a handful of awards ceremonies and benefit concerts between 1998 and 2001.

Anticipation in the fan community was high. Appearing at the World Music Awards in 2000, to be honoured for his unparalleled success in the music industry, Jackson had teased in his acceptance speech: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” But whether the eventual album lived up to Jackson’s hype has split fans for the past two decades.

Invincible would be released in 2001 to a lukewarm critical reception, with many reviewers saying the man dubbed the King of Pop for his trendsetting career was now reduced to following trends instead, bringing in younger artists and lending his vocals to their work. With just two entirely self-penned songs on the 16-track album, Jackson seemed to be something of a passenger on his own album.

With his physical appearance attracting more interest than his art, and coverage of the album’s release unfortunately coinciding with the biggest news event of the century – the 9/11 terror attacks – the album charted well upon release but quickly sank, receiving little promotion from either Jackson or his record label.

By summer 2002, artist and label were locked in a vicious battle, with Jackson accusing Sony of sabotaging the project as part of a racist conspiracy, and the label countering that Jackson’s career had been killed by allegations of child molestation.

So what is Invincible’s true place in Jackson’s legacy? Did it deserve the critical pasting it received? Have the songs aged well? Would they have fared better if they had been released at a different time? In what is bound to be one of the most controversial episodes in this podcast’s history, our panellists (Jamon Bull, Shawn Shackelford, James Alay, John Cameron and Charles Thomson) ask and answer these questions, and many more.

This episode was edited by Jamon Bull.

Participants
• Jamon Bull
• Shawn Shackelford
• James Alay
• John Cameron
• Charles Thomson

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

138: 30th Anniversary Celebration Roundtable

In 2001, the who’s who of the entertainment industry poured into New York’s Madison Square Garden arena to celebrate the career of Michael Jackson. To mark the 30th anniversary of his solo recording career, Jackson had agreed to appear at two concerts – his first on US soil since January 27th, 1989, and his first with his brothers since 1984.

Produced by Jackson and long-time friend David Gest, the shows would kick off with all-star salute to the King of Pop. Icons taking to the stage to pay tribute included Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Destiny’s Child, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston and Marlon Brando. Then Jackson and his brothers would reunite to perform their greatest hits, before Jackson closed out the show with some of his most famous solo songs. The rights to the concerts were eventually sold to CBS and it was aired during prime time all around the world. Ratings reached 30 000 000 people in the US alone. Jackson and Gest generated a fortune in profits. The concerts should have been a legendary affair, but all was not well behind the scenes, and this potentially historic event turned into a damp squib.

So what went wrong? Was it a complete write-off? And how do these two shows – the last concerts Michael Jackson ever performed – factor into his legacy? Our roundtable guests get together to ask and answer these questions, whilst sharing their own memories and reflections on the shows.

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Participants
Jamon Bull
Charles Thomson
Vernay Lewis O’Neal
Charlie Carter
Shawn Shackelford

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

135: Christian James Hand Special

Christian James Hand joins host Jamon Bull and regular guests Andy Healy and Velo Kristina for a special interview about Christian’s amazing history in the music industry, his work dissecting Michael Jackson’s multitracks via his “The Session” events on Instagram and live in-person, his deep appreciation of music production, and much more.

Hand is a British-born, LA-based musician, music producer, radio personality, and voice-over artist. In his years in the music industry, he has worked in A&R at the British hip‐hop Label, Gee Street Records, as a Stager Manager for major tours, managed a live music venue, and was a radio production assistant and then a radio DJ. During his time at Sirius/XM’s “Faction” channel and “Alt Nation”, he created the hugely popular ”Naked Vocals” segment, which would lay the foundation for his future musical dissection work, including “The Session” events. His methods would continue to evolve through his radio-personality positions on different stations, ultimately leading to popular live music breakdown events called “The Sound Sessions at Swing House”, as well as the radio show “If You Like That” on 100.3 The Sound.

Today, Hand’s 20-minute sessions can be heard on Monday mornings at the legendary 95.5 KLOS, and live on Instagram most weekdays. On Wednesday nights, he has a tradition of featuring Michael Jackson songs. Hand has also produced music for many different artists and groups over the years, including The Mowglis, Alexa Melo, The Jet Morgans, The Absolute, Analog Saint, and Mark Mackay.

Hand has a unique, deep appreciation for music production, is incredibly well connected in the world of music (Gregory Phillinganes, Jimmy Jam, and others are regulars at his Instagram events), and brings fascinating insights into Michael Jackson’s work as an artist in the studio.

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Additional Links
• Christian James Hand’s website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

Sponsors
• Roberta Martin Interiors. Full-service interior design based in Pasadena, California. Founded and run by a long-time Michael Jackson fan!
• The MJCast’s official shop. Support The MJCast and Michael Jackson all at the same time by buying some of our merchandise.

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If you have any thoughts, opinions, or feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.comKeep Michaeling!

133: Vindication Day Special With Carol LaMere

Carol LaMere joins hosts Jamon Bull and Charles Thomson for a special interview as part of the team’s series of Vindication Day episodes, which recognize Michael Jackson’s acquittal from false child molestation allegations on June 13th, 2005.

In this discussion, A-list hair stylist Carol LaMere reveals how she was hired by Michael Jackson after his Pepsi burn, to help create unnoticeable hairpieces that covered his injuries. Jackson’s fear of people finding out he required the hairpieces meant Carol became a secret member of his entourage, travelling separately from everyone else and staying in different locations. The job saw her travel the world with Michael and work on video shoots like “Black or White”, “Remember The Time” and “In The Closet”.

LaMere soon became a regular visitor at Neverland. She witnessed and became involved in – and was ultimately a recipient of – Michael Jackson’s philanthropic work with sick children and their families.

LaMere’s presence in Jackson’s world made her a first-hand witness to behind-the-scenes goings-on in both the Jordan Chandler case and the Gavin Arvizo case. She knew the Arvizos so well that Gavin’s sister used to stay in her house – a relationship which saw her added to the defense witness list. She provided bombshell testimony in two investigation reports.

After the trial, LaMere travelled with Jackson to the Middle East, England and Ireland – a period about which she shares her sometimes sad and shocking memories. She also shares her thoughts on Jackson’s death, and recounts their final conversation around two weeks earlier.

In this fascinating and powerful deep-dive chat, LaMere also speaks frankly about friction in Jackson’s camp, Jackson’s love of practical jokes, and how she is still mourning his death 12 years later.

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Sponsors
• MJGivingTree. Authentic jewelry designer recreations of Michael Jackson items made for fans by a loyal fan. Handmade by MJGivingTree with love and a little Michael magic.
• The MJCast’s official shop. Support The MJCast and Michael Jackson all at the same time by buying some of our merchandise.

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TheMJCast.com
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If you have any thoughts, opinions, or feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.comKeep Michaeling!

132: Aileen Medalla Special

Aileen Medalla joins host Elise Capron to discuss her memoir published earlier this year, The King of Pop and I: A Filipino Teacher’s Travel Memoir with Michael Jackson and His Children. Aileen’s book covers the years 2005-2008, when she served as the Traveling Homeschool Teacher for the Prince, Paris, and Bigi while the Jackson family lived in Bahrain, Europe, Asia, and the United States. In addition to being an amazing journal of her travels all over the world, Aileen’s memoir is a unique look into the Jacksons’ personal life. Because she taught and worked with Jackson children on a daily basis, Aileen’s reflections on their family dynamics, Jackson’s role as a father, and their day-to-day lifestyles gives fascinating insights into the true Michael Jackson—what he was like as a down-to-earth human being, not just as the King of Pop.

Additional Links
• The King of Pop and I website, with links to purchase the book.
• Aileen’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Sponsors
• Karl Marx Does the Washing Up: The Podcast. A philosophical, comic podcast made by two MJ fans which navigates the “complex world of truth, romance, hell and housework.” Give them a listen.
• The MJCast’s official shop. Support The MJCast and Michael Jackson all at the same time by buying some of our merchandise.

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Stay BAD!

129: Talitha Linehan Special

The MJCast is delighted to announce that its first show after International Women’s Day 2021 is also its first ever all-female episode! Vibrant duo Talitha Linehan and Talin MacArthur join host Elise Capron for a special episode about Talitha’s recently published memoir, A Real-Life Fairy Tale: Michael Jackson and Me, as well as both of their amazing fan experiences, and the final years of Michael Jackson’s life. Talitha is a writer originally from County Cork, Ireland, and has lived in the United States since 2005, currently residing in Los Angeles. Her memoir details the 13-year period during which she traveled all over the world to see Michael, including seeing 17 HIStory Tour concerts, meeting him all over the world, attending the 2005 trial, visiting Neverland Valley Ranch, and becoming a daily presence around him during his final years. Talin, who lives in Pasadena, California, is a close friend of Talitha’s, and was part of the small group of fans who saw Michael Jackson frequently from 2008-2009. Talin had her own amazing experiences as a young fan, as well, having attended the 1993 Super Bowl, and the filming of “Will You Be There”. This in-depth discussion gives amazing insights into what it was like to be a true mega-fan and “follower”, into Michael Jackson’s relationship with his fans, and provides invaluable perspective on The King of Pop’s state of being during his last, tragic days—a time which, for many fans, is still shrouded in mystery and conjecture.

Additional Links
• Purchase Michael Jackson and Me here.
• Talitha’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages.
• Talin MacArthur’s Instagram page.
• This Is Not It testimonies.

Sponsors
• Custom Paint by Joel845. Joel, our favorite Desert Viking, creates incredible custom motorcycle fuel tanks, and more! Plus, check out his brand new merch shop.
• The MJCast’s official shop. Support The MJCast and Michael Jackson all at the same time by buying some of our merchandise.

Connect with Us
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• Facebook
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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Stay BAD!