JEAN-MICHEL JARRE

by Johara Al-Rasheed

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Ride Captain Ride, Upon Your Mystery Ship
If you’re looking for a swift education in the last four decades of electronica music look no further than Jean-Michel Jarre’s new album Electronica I: THE TIME MACHINE. The first album in a two-part project—the second of which will be released in Spring 2016—combines Jarre’s skills as a composer and music producer with the talents of impressive collaborators like Armin van Buuren, Vince Clarke, and John Carpenter. He describes the full project as an audio movie “that you can listen to from A-Z.” “I had the idea to gather around me people who have been, were, or are a source of inspiration to me and are linked directly or indirectly to technology,” says Jarre. “Most of the time you are sending a file somewhere in cyberspace and somebody is going to put a top line or melody or synth line or guitar part and you never even talk to the people, you never meet them.”

The sheer volume—and merit—of collaborators on this project hints at the power Jarre yields in the world of electronica music, almost unbelieving of the fact himself, he says that “all of the artists I approached said yes,” this of course is not surprising. Most widely known as the man who holds the record for the largest live outdoor audience in the world, it’s hard to imagine anyone saying no to a collaboration with the French producer, within the course of our conversation he references Star Wars, Kill Bill, True Detective, and Spike Jonze. What mattered most to him within the collaborative process was the creativity brought in by these musicians. For instance, he tells me that Moby was high on his wish list for this album because “his style is instantly recognizable, I have a lot of respect and admiration for his work, for me he was a kind of Woody Allen of techno.” The resulting track is not only a testament to Jarre’s abilities but that of his “genius” collaborator as well.

Of his first album since 2007’s Oxygène: New Master Recording, Jarre jokes that he has been told that he has now invented the concept of a never-ending album, the idea that there will always be someone to collaborate with. But at its core Electronica is a merging of artists covering four decades of electronic music and the evolution of technology. “With Laurie Anderson I had this idea to create a kind of dark love song between a smartphone and a human being,” a not entirely laughable idea when you consider that “people are spending more time touching, almost having a more sensual relationship with their smartphone than their own partner.” Jarre’s many years in the music industry have surely contributed to an understanding of technology few can rival. “It’s a sign of the times when you have to consider the two angles of technology, it could be fun and nice but also slightly darker, and I really wanted to express both sides of it.”

Jarre acknowledges the responsibility he feels toward the success of these two albums more so than any of his previous ones. However, he has faith in his longtime fans and those new ones who may “pick one track because they are interested in one collaboration and it could be the key to discover other tracks.”  As for the future, Jarre hopes to take his project to festivals−more specifically Coachella or Glastonbury, where he says “it is our job (as musicians) to make the air vibrate and trigger different emotions, the desire to dance, to be sad, to be bored, or to have sex,” In the end, everything depends on the music.

Photographer: Chelsea Lauren at chelsealauren.com.