Eigenlabs: Jean Michell Jarre Interview at Woodbrass July 2010

Woodbrass: When did you learn about the Eigenharp instruments?
Jean Michell Jarre:  I approached the company (Eigenlabs) in October 2009 when I was starting my World Tour and the Eigenharp was at the prototype stage. I am very happy to be here today in the Woodbrass Paris store to finally touch the instruments in the flesh. The Eigenharp is completely unique and I am won over. It is not a gadget it is a real instrument and you have to approach it in the same way as if you were starting to play the violin or piano.
Woodbrass: What do you like about the Eigenharp?
Jean-Michel Jarre: For a long time, we have not had a modern instrument that we can consider real, like a saxophone or clarinet, and that exploits electronic capabilities and sound design, as well as the composition possibilities of today’s music computer technology
The Eigenharp may seem to have a steep learning curve to begin with, but I think that will be a real advantage in the long term because of it’s flexibility in principle, it offers unlimited possibilities. It allows the player to create an instrument based on their own musical culture. If you are a guitarist, you can set it up like a guitar, piano players can use it like a keyboard and the same goes for accordionists and alike. You can customise the instrument according to the way you want to play and the way you feel. The breath pipe allows the player to create a wide number of effects, not just for brass or woodwind sounds, but a new way of controlling and manipulating all sounds.
The instrument has many features that allow you to play live and solo. For instance you can add rhythms, record a bass line and solo over the top. It is this aspect of live recording and performance which is very interesting. The Eigenharp Pico is very interesting because in the first instance it allows you to become familiar to the multiple functions of the (EigenD) software system before graduating to the larger model (Eigenharp Alpha). The midrange model (Tau) is also very interesting, principally because it is affordable and has nearly the same features of the large model (Alpha).
Woodbrass: You are about to going back on tour, are you thinking of using the Eigenharp on stage?
Jean-Michel Jarre: I have some concerts in July and the World Tour recommences at the end of August/beginning of September. I would like to try and have the instrument for the tour and to be able to play it live on stage regularly. I think it will be necessary to start off with a precise idea and then develop it little by little as I get on.
Woodbrass: Are you thinking of using the Eigenharp for existing songs or to create new ones?
Jean-Michel Jarre:  There are a lot of improvised sections in my concerts, and this is where I see using the Eigenharp to begin with. But I do see myself using the Eigenharp to compose new songs. And why not use the Eigenharp for existing base lines or other parts instead of the keyboard?! The interpretation and results will be different, but it will create new colour for the pieces.

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