Metaphysical Meme and Precog Polyart

Welcome to my heart's desire. I started this journey in 2010. I've come to understand that no United States-based fan organization is currently operating--or if there is, it's well under the radar. Well, that's just wrong. So it is that I'm taking on the challenge of calling all fans and enthusiasts in the States to join me (yet again) in creating a new online group where we can discuss and share and show that yes, there is interest in the United States! If you would be interested in this new project, please contact me at and let's see what we can create!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Always Scintillating...

The keys to my success: Jean Michel Jarre
Last updated at 17:27 12 January 2008

Next week The Mail on Sunday is giving away Oxygène, that triumph of Seventies pioneering electronica. Here, Jean Michel Jarre reveals why the original is still the best (but didn't make him as rich as you think)

Jean Michel Jarre recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of his best-known work, the 12 million-selling Oxygène, with a ten-night run at the Théâtre Marigny in Paris.
The album, consisting entirely of electronic instrumental music, recorded at Jarre's home, was the surprise hit of 1977, producing a memorable single, Oxygène (Part IV).
In Paris last December, Jarre performed the entire work using the original equipment, including more than 50 vintage synthesizers, and he is due to bring the show to London's Royal Albert Hall this March.

It will be a relatively intimate event for Jarre, who is better known for huge, globe-straddling multimedia events.

The first was before a million people in Place de la Concorde in Paris, in 1979. The most recent was the Water For Life concert in the Sahara in 2006. Then there have been historic one-night stopovers such as the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, the Acropolis and Tiananmen Square.

The 59-year-old French composer has had four entries in the Guinness Book Of Records for concert attendances, breaking his own total three times ? the largest being in 1997 when he performed to 3.5 million people in Moscow.

Jarre was married for 20 years to the English actress, Charlotte Rampling, before they divorced in 1998.

They have one son, David Jarre, an internationally renowned magician.

Oxygène was turned down by all the record companies. It was like a UFO ? it was made in the middle of the disco and punk eras and the record companies said, "What is it? No singer, no proper song titles? And, on top of that, it's French!" Even my mum asked, "Why are you giving your music the name of a gas?" Yet people talk of Oxygène now as my "masterpiece". When it became such a success, it was strange ? a very exciting period and kind of innocent. You find you have a lot of new friends around you and it's almost as if they want the success to continue more than you do.

Making my music is like being a chef. It's no coincidence that Oxygène was recorded in my kitchen in Paris.I had to find the right ingredients, bringing everything to the right temperature. don't like the preconceived idea about electronic music that it is cold, futuristic or robotic. I want my music to sound warm, human and organic. I'm not a scientist working in a laboratory ? I'm more like a painter, Jackson Pollock for example, mixing colour and light, experimenting with textures.

I'm really playing those instruments: I don't just click a mouse and sit back. They are not fake instruments. The beauty is that you can create the sound of the Moon, the sound of light. Nothing is repeated. It's music that breathes.

To me, the original VCS3 synthesizer is like a Stradivarius. All these old analogue instruments are very poetic.I have a huge emotional relationship with them. My first synthesizer was the VCS3. I got it in Bristol in the late Sixties, long before Pink Floyd used them. I had to sell an acoustic guitar and an old reel-to-reel tape recorder to raise the money. You can do fantastic things with modern computers but you cannot use them in the same intuitive, spontaneous way you can a VCS3. You also have the Minimoog, which is very famous, and a Dutch invention called the Eminent, which was patented in the late Sixties. The sound of Oxygène is based on the fantastic string effects of the Eminent.

To play some of these old instruments you need the Force to be with you. The theramin, for example ? it's totally intuitive. It looks like a Thirties radio with two antennae ? just by moving your hands towards the antennae you control the volume and the pitch, producing this fantastic sound like a soprano vocal. Stravinsky used one, as did the Beach Boys on Good Vibrations. It's very tricky to play.

I own some of the world's most unusual synthesizers. They include the ARP 2600, a huge modular synthesizer. That's the instrument Pete Townshend created The Who's Baba O'Riley on. There are only about 30 left.

Back in the Seventies we had a romantic, poetic vision of the future, like it was in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. It felt as if everything was still ahead of us. Today, it is all behind us. That is not to say that my music is attached to sci-fi. I see my music as more attached to the biosphere than the stratosphere.

I collect robots. They're mainly Japanese, American and especially Russian ? small robots, big robots and old toy robots made between 1910 and the Fifties. That period was all about futurism, from the art of Kandinsky to crazy guys building strange robots and sci-fi creatures, utopian-type things. In those days there were lots of dreamers about the future.I got into all that.
Going to the US or China and hearing your music on the radio is like signing your soul to the devil. You can start to lose your own identity when your image becomes bigger than who you actually are. There are so many temptations, so many excesses, it can kill you. America is the worst. I was voted People magazine's Man Of The Year in the Seventies, and the women? well, you have to be clear in your mind what these things mean or your brain will implode.
Pope John Paul II had big feet. The first thing I noticed when I met him was the size of his shoes. I thought to myself, "My God, this man has his head in the sky but his feet solidly on the ground."

I'll never forget the day of Princess Diana's funeral. We had been quite close friends, and on that day I was doing a concert in Moscow for 3.5 million people. I knew she was keen on one song I'd written called Souvenir Of China. So I decided to dedicate it to her and ask the audience for a minute's silence. You can imagine the scene in Moscow with more than three million noisy people, the amount of vodka, craziness everywhere? But the entire city remained silent. It was so moving that everyone started crying. The tears were running down my face so much I couldn't even start to play again. Even now, just talking about it makes me emotional.

Why do I play these big events? First, it's the fact that electronic instruments are not really made for live performance, so long tours are not feasible. And I became inspired by Italian opera, working with carpenters, painters, costumiers and, in my case, video artists, light-show specialists and architects. Also, because I've always considered my music to be attached to the immediate environment, I wanted to perform outdoors, to hijack one whole place for a night ? something where, as an artist, you have no second chance. At the Place de la Concorde [in 1979], one guy came up afterwards ? he had a long beard like Fidel Castro's ? and he said, "I've never seen anything like that before in my life." I thanked him and someone said, "Do you know who that was? Mick Jagger"

My favourite concert nearly didn't happen. I thought it was a joke when Lech Walesa phoned me to play at Gdansk in 2005. I just didn't believe him. The concert was a kind of Blade Runner experience because it was in exactly that spot that the world had changed, leading to the eventual collapse of the Soviet system.

Arthur C Clarke thought aliens would respond to my music. He told me, "We must do something in outer space ? perhaps a concert on the Moon." He thought it would be a good point of contact.
My favourite thing to spend money on used to be cars ? especially old British and American ones. I had a Bugatti, which I bought in England, an old XJ140 Jaguar and a Cadillac Eldorado, which I bought in the US. I had cars all over the world. I drove them all, including the Bugatti. I was keener, though, on the XJ140 and the Cadillac. I'd put the family in them and off we'd go. Of course, you had to stop from garage to garage, because they kept breaking down, but I didn't care.

Oxygène made me rich ? but not as rich as you might think. Back then managers and record companies were getting too much money. Having said that, I was able to buy a large house in Paris where I built my own studio, plus a house in London.

It has been very moving playing Oxygène again. In Paris I was playing to small audiences of only about 500. I love using all the old equipment.

It's been quite an experience.

Crying all the way to the bank
He's huge in open-air music spectaculars and big on sharing his feelings about tax, drugs, rock'n'roll - and his ex-partner, Charlotte Rampling.


The Guardian, Monday 10 January 2000
Article history
To the cynical English ear, Jean Michel Jarre, the 51-year-old French musician, talks enough rot to sink a cross-channel ferry. He spent Millennium night in Egypt, lighting up the Pyramids with "an electronic opera" entitled the Twelve Dreams of the Sun, at which he and his audience were not "trapped by their day-to-day life, with tools around their arms", but "in front of themselves, not just in front of the past, but in front of time", and also "in front of timelessness". It was "a physical experience, a bit painful". They felt "the rust, the dust". It was, despite the multi-million-dollar equipment, 100%"organic".
He has a new album out this month, Metamorphoses, "a blank page, a new chapter", in which for the first time in his career he has fully "experimented" with the voice, his own and others, using it naturally "as an instrument", the words as "audio-pictograms". It has an Oriental feel this album (it is also "organic"), and Jarre believes more and more that the next metamorphoses of Europe, in which "we grow up enough to succeed as Europeans", may come not from inside but from outside, from this Oriental connection, "this glue", we all share: "The Turkish connection for Germans, the north African connection for France, Pakistani or Indian for Britain."

He has a sensitive nature, he says. "At the end of the day the saddest thing for me was clowns. I used to cry. The more the other children around me were laughing, the more I was crying."

But Jarre is French after all. And handsome. And so charming. And so tiny. He sits in a recording studio in Paris, surrounded by crates ("Pink Floyd World Tour") and boys in Hard Rock cafe T-shirts, and all the wires and chrome and leads and cables and titanic speakers that attend his career as the man who brought the musical extravaganza, the techno tirade, to your local city centre (Paris, Beijing, Houston, Moscow... Docklands), like a Gallic Wizard of Oz.

He looks like a spaniel, with his puppydog brown eyes and dark hair falling around his line-free face like two floppy ears, a lean Dudley Moore with his easy grin and shiny school boy trousers. His hands are pale and slim and a bit damp looking and always on the move, scratching his eyebrows, tweaking the flies of his trousers.

"Oh, you English women, you are so cheeky," he says. "The guys in England are more cynical. It's funny, in France it is the reverse. English woman is more open and much less cynical, less knowing is the word, than the French woman. On my side I have this love affair with the UK..."

He has, however, separated from his wife, the English actress Charlotte Rampling; newspaper reports in 1997 said he'd left her for a 31-year-old French civil servant called Odile Froment. But he says he and Charlotte "are like twins. Really, we are closer than ever. Really, she is the woman of my life." So you are living together again? "Er, not really. We have separate lives but we will live together forever. Life is a long way..."

Jarre, who was born in Lyon, has been around almost as long as the Pyramids. He was experimenting at the Paris Conservatoire in 1966. Oxygene, his first international hit, was released in 1976, the same year he was voted Personality of the Year by People magazine. His first open air concert was on Bastille Day in Paris in 1979. (He fell into the whole outdoor scene by accident - in an attempt to make the performance of music based around a synthesiser interesting: "the instruments were not so sexy," he says.)

He's sold more than 50m albums along the way, but he found the 80s a bit lonely: "I followed my way more or less by myself." But the raves of the 90s have caught him up. "A lot of people joined the boat." He says he is a regular fixture on the rave scene. Does he take ecstasy when he's there?

"Er, no. But you know it is unfair to trap a movement with drugs. It is a never-ending story. Every movement has been linked with drugs, the beginning of jazz, the beginning of rock'n'roll, the beginning of heavy metal, punk, grunge, techno. Drug dealers have an impact when people are just starting a new way of expression, when they are fragile and vulnerable, but what is most interesting in the rave scene is the attempt to find an alternative to rock'n'roll."

He could never have been a rock'n'roll star himself. He's adamant about that. He uses painting or writing analogies for what he does, not musical. It's a question of humility. "I know that I'm a bit odd, or eccentric. But I never consider myself a pop star obsessed by my image. This image problem is a very 80s attitude, linked with a certain cynicism, that the image is more important than whoever you are. But mine is a more humble approach, to be part of a big picture, rather than going into a small theatre just with your guitar with a spotlight on yourself, thinking you are going to excite an audience for two hours."

Jarre is not short of theories, and he's generous with them too. He has a complicated family - he and Rampling have a son; she had a son from a previous marriage, he had a daughter (he had custody of her from the time she was 18 months). They're all in their 20s now - a magician, a graphic designer, the movie business: a perfect division of the family talent - but he's happy to share his tips for domestic harmony. "The 60s generated this silly attitude to leaving the kids to do whatever they want, which created a big mess.

"Charlotte and I always considered that you should give a framework where they could be as free as possible and then enlarge the framework as long as they are growing up. We are all very close, even among these mad crazy schedules. Yesterday I was with David. We had dinner at one in the morning until three. I had no other time and he was the same." As for he and Rampling: "We will never divorce. The whole family is very close."

There is one exception: his father, Maurice Jarre, who wrote the soundtrack to Dr Zhivago and lives in Los Angeles, "trying... I mean continuing to do his work". His son thinks he has met him about 20 times. "As long as you can count the number of contacts with one member of your family, it is not a good thing. I am only now starting to cope with this. A blank space instead of a father is not a good thing. It means nothing. It's sad because apart from the personal things, it is quite unusual from a professional point of view when a French person is internationally successful in music, but to have two in the same family, it is crazy not to share that."

His father has another son from a more recent relationship. "I think it's even worse with this one than with me." Have you met him? "No. Er, yes... I've met him, but, you know, I have enough responsibility with my own children. I'm not taking care of children from my father!"

For most of our encounter, Jarre fits easily into the role of the ageless celebrity, one of the most successful post-Beatles musicians. Everyone around him bangs on about how wonderful he looks for his age ("Fit, 50 and not a firework in sight!" begins his press pack). And he does. He was on "a silly" French version of This Is Your Life recently, and "suddenly you are in front of your mates of when you were 14 and they were these old, established people. I had the feeling they belonged to the generation of my father."

But, after talking for a while, he begins to act his age, giving a nice rant at the French tax system when I asked how rich he was (he and Rampling brought their children up in a 14-bedroom chateau at Versailles; he still lives nearby). "I am not at all like these English pop stars who are not paying taxes by having these big tours and avoiding any traps with the tax," he said crossly. "I am a victim of the highest tax in Europe.

"It's a joke in France. If you have so many people unemployed it's because people are living on this system, working to just the limit and getting paid in black [economy] money, while a small percentage of people are working day and night for really the rest of the country."

He's gone off America: "It's an old-new concept. It's a dated country." He's fed up with being associated with lasers. "I don't like lasers. I think it's very disco. I'm not a fan." He's against cosmetic surgery. "All these silly things people are doing. Charlotte thinks exactly the same. It's too much." And he gets a bit hot under the collar about cigarettes too. "Really I am fed up. In record institutions you have four people smoking around you, it's really affecting. I really hate this more and more." He screwed up his nose.

"But what I hate the most, I must say, particularly in London, is noisy restaurants. I can't stand that any more. More and more restaurants are like gymnasiums. This Conran is like a railway station.

"I was in this restaurant the other day and I looked around and it was like people were having arguments with one another and I thought to myself we should organise intercoms for people to talk to one another at lunch!"

By now he had completely forgotten himself. "The next step, the next luxury," he said, "will be to have a quiet place, and to shoot the pianist."

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