Going into ‘Michael mode’


According to Christopher Toh, talking with producer Teddy Riley about working with Michael Jackson,

Riley first worked with Jackson on the latter’s 1991 Dangerous album, and infused the New Jack Swing style – which Riley has been credited with – into the songs. Despite already making a name for himself as a producer and a member of the group Guy, Riley said he was still intimidated.

“I was very intimidated at first, but I got through it,” said Riley, about having to work with Jackson for the first time. After all, Jackson previously had a successful run with producer Quincy Jones, who produced Off The Wall, Thriller – which bagged eight Grammy awards – and Bad; before Jackson decided he wanted to try something new with his sound and roped the likes of Bill Bottrel and Riley in.

Still, said Riley, things got better as the days went by. “It became smooth sailing after a while. And I rolled with the punches. He taught me how to be strong and hold my own. He taught me how to work with him.”

And as for artistic conflicts, Riley said that the good thing about Jackson was that he knew what he wanted. “When it came to working. I just kind of went into ‘Michael mode’, in terms of putting the songs and putting everything on it. ‘Michael mode’ is very intense. It’s no holds barred – you just reach for the sky. You do not accept nothing less than great. And you have to be strong.”


“My biggest lesson, as far as learning from working with Michael – and knowing him and being a friend of his – is stay strong on what you feel is right, and stay hungry and stay humble,” said producer Teddy Riley over the phone from London. “It will bring you a long way.”

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