The Pete Schweir Interview
Dorset born, Pete Schweir began exploring his love and talent for music from the age of 7 and continues to enjoy a long and successful career as a music producer, having worked with many diverse artists including Trevor Horn and Kim Appleby. In 1990 Pete was asked by Clive Black, who worked for EMI at the time, to produce Kim’s first solo album – Kim Appleby - alongside George de Angelis. This album was comprised mainly of songs Kim co-wrote with Mel for their comeback album. Here Pete shares some of his memories from the project exclusively for melandkim.com.
Working with Kim on what must have been a very personal project for her, what was the mood during the recording sessions? Can you describe how the two of you worked together on the album?
The mood was really good. We had a lot of fun during the recordings and we strived to make something different for Kim. I was always aware how difficult the process must have been for her, and had this at the back of my mind throughout the project.
Having come from PWL, where the fast pace of recording often resulted in the artists' input being... perhaps, minimal, Kim really would have cut her teeth on this project. Did this present any challenges during the recording and production of the album?
No, not really. We discussed everything between the three of us and it worked well. We spent a lot of time in pre-production, so that all the songs were good in shape when we went into the studio. I don't remember exactly but I think we spent two or three months working in George's [De Angelis] basement studio, on the songs. Kim would do guide vocals upstairs, in the sitting room. We wanted to be confident that the album was ready before going into the studio, and that Kim was happy, without having any time pressure, so the basement did the job.
At the initial stages of the project, was there a sound concept for the album and did the final sound of the album change much from that concept?
No, George and I wanted to make a good pop record for Kim, using as many real instruments as we could. For example, we used the kick horns section rather than using synthesised brass. We just had fun trying different approaches until we felt each song was working.
The majority of the album was made up of songs Kim wrote with her sister Mel before her sad passing. Were there many other demo tracks that Kim initially presented and what influenced which songs made the final track list?
I think we recorded all the tracks Kim had a demo of. I don't remember passing on any.
We have read that Kim’s main motivation during this project was to have Mel’s songs heard and, in many ways, she was ‘doing it for Mel and the family’ as much as herself but, as the producer, what did you want to put across?
I wanted to give Kim success as a solo artist.
Listening back to the album, can you point to any part of it and say "that's me"?
From a mixing point of view, the single, 'Don't Worry'.
Aside from her passion for the songs she wrote with Mel to be heard, what qualities did Kim have that really stand out for you and what was the biggest struggle you faced as the producer?
Belief in herself and to make sure Kim had something to be proud of and get it in to the charts.
A fan favourite from the project is the amazing Downtown Clown which would have been a great single choice. This track features the unusual use of a fade-in instead of a more conventional intro. What was the thought behind this?
George and I couldn't work out the best way to start the track so we tried a fade and it seemed to work musically especially with the bass line going round, it just seemed more unusual.
One last question, another fan favourite is the track I’ll Be There, which was planned to be the 5th single release from the album. Can you tell us if the single version differed from the album version and what mixes were you preparing for the release?
We did a long version of the track but the mix for the single would essentially have been the album version. In fact, it's strange... I always liked the rough mix I did at the end of the recording but we moved studios for the mix from studio 'D' to studio 'B' in Metropolis Studios London. Halfway through mixing it in 'B', I wasn't happy with how it sounded and reverted back to the rough mix and did some "tweaking" to it.