Jean-Michel Jarre Page 2

'At the beginning we all knew that digital was not very sophisticated and at times was quite harsh in terms of sound quality. It's really cool that now, even though this has only happened in the past seven or eight years, we are at last once more entering a world of high-definition sound. I am really happy about that.'

Acoustic Challenge
What kind of equipment does he use to listen to music when working?

'In my studio I listen on Genelec loudspeakers. They are very good, though some people will prefer speakers from other manufacturers, of course. But at the end of the day a good speaker is a speaker that you know. In the studio, the speaker itself is not the only factor. You also have the acoustics of the walls and different designs will interact with these in different ways.

'Every studio has its own acoustics and we know that acoustics is not a perfect science. The best thing is to get used to a speaker. Even if it's not a speaker as expensive as the Wilson Alexx we have here in this room, the important thing is to get to know it.'


Some say the story of electronic music is the story of Jarre himself. Yes, Tangerine Dream enjoyed Top 20 album success with Phaedra in 1974 while Kraftwerk even had a hit back in '75 with the single 'Autobahn'. But when Jarre was wrestling to marshal sounds from an ARP 2600 modular synth in his home studio back in the early '70s, he was essentially working in isolation. This is one of the reasons why he has cited the soundtracks to sci-fi movies, like Stanley Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey from 1968, as being an early inspiration.

How he does he regard the state of electronic music today?

'I feel much better now because I am much more in phase with my time than when I started. When I began, I, and a few other people, were considered the weirdos and crazy guys working on instruments – machines – that were not even thought to be musical instruments. And I've always been convinced, from the start, that electronic music would become a major genre in the 21st century. And here we now are, and you have so many interesting things going on.


'You know, I know a lot of people say "Ah yes, but you know we have so many things that we are actually losing something", but I don't agree with that at all. The great thing with technology and the Internet is that it's allowing us to democratise music and the means of making it. These days, even if you don't have lots of money or if you live in a remote country, you can compose, record and distribute your album or music on the web. This is a big change, of course.'

Beyond Nature
Does he create and craft his own sounds from scratch these days or take them from a sound library?

'Basically, I steal everything I can,' he replies with a huge grin, followed by laughter from the crowd. 'But seriously, you have so many sounds around that using a sound bank, for instance, is well… What I mean is that if you like the sound of a violin, you use the sound of the violin and then you can process it.

'Or you can think about a sound that maybe exists somewhere, but you don't know where, so you make that. But I don't have any kind of system. What I can say, talking about sounds, is that on the original Equinoxe album I used quite a lot of natural sounds for storm and wind whereas on the new album I thought it would be quite fun to recreate some of these sounds using software and hardware. Some of the sounds are natural ones while I had already made others, such as thunder, wind and sea.


'I found it was quite interesting to use technology to recreate nature. I met the Italian film director Federico Fellini quite a while ago and he told me something that I really loved. He said: "You know, I hate filming the sea for real. I much prefer to recreate my idea of the sea in the studio with cloth, with fans. A fake sea, but actually this is my idea of the sea and more interesting than the natural one."

'And I think the beauty of electronic music is that you can do that too; you can recreate the sound of the rain but it is your own rain. Perhaps it's quite different from the natural one, but it's yours. Like a painter recreating nature, it's not necessarily the real one, but it's interesting as it's not the one you see every day.'

How does he feel when other artists recreate his music?

'First of all, when I finish my music I don't feel that it belongs to me anymore. I know that my music has been played with a symphonic orchestra and that there have even been heavy metal versions and you know, that's great. I always love that, though it depends on the result of course,' he laughs.

The X-Files
Attention returns to the hardware Jarre has just used to replay his new album and in particular the resolution of the source files on his laptop. Were they ripped CD files or hi-res versions?


'They were high-resolution files,' he explains, 'because if you are to match this kind of replay equipment you have to be very careful and not use a CD. Though I shouldn't say this to my record company, CD is not the best format in the world, even if for years they tried to convince us that it was the Holy Grail of quality.'

Jarre is no stranger to the world of high-end audio, co-founding Music Life & Jarre Technologies in 2005. The AeroSystem One loudspeaker was launched five years later and the company now markets a range of speaker-based systems, such as the AeroSkull series, which puts in regular appearances at audio shows around the globe.


It now has plans to offer an 'Audiophile product collection' dedicated to 'the most exigent music-lover', which will bear Jarre's name only. He is also writing a book 'a kind of an autobiography I'm hoping will be released next year.'

Still one of the giants in the 'big gig' league, once playing live to an audience of 3.5 million in Moscow, Jarre remains revered in the world of dance music, his live shows earning him a whole new generation of fans. Is he planning a tour to promote Equinoxe Infinity?


'Not now,' he says. 'Except for the album Rendez-Vous, which I knew I would be performing outdoors in Houston, I never think about performance when in the studio. But maybe in a year from now I might perform Equinoxe Infinity.

'As you know, I have just finished a world tour – Electronica. It consisted of almost 1250 concerts.' He then adds, with a chuckle: 'I have to take a bit of a break!'.