Interview with Jean Michel Jarre - Nordmenn er varme (03.11.2011)


Jean Michel Jarre visited Norway again and I was once more able to do an interview with him. Unfortunately it was impossible to finish an interview in person as he travelled between the cities of Bergen and Oslo, had sound checks or conducted meetings (one of those meetings was with Röyksopp).

However, Jarre and his very helpful tour manager were more than willing to let an interview go ahead. So thanks to the wonderful world of internets and communication technology, we managed to complete an interview a few days later. Jarre was by that time on his way to Germany where he will be staging ten concerts.

Long tour
You've been touring on and off for the better part of 2,5 years now. What have you learned through this period?

- I've learned that a tour is entirely different from doing my big one-offs, Jarre explains. - It's in fact less frustrating to tour than doing my huge outdoor projects. When you're doing a one-off, the concert becomes a dress rehearsal, premiere and goodbye performance, all at the same time. You have no chance to improve the show. In a tour like this I can continuously improve it.

Jarre feels that the concerts he's doing now are very different from what they were two months ago. - At every soundcheck I'm trying to improve the sound, lights and the music. I might add some tracks and remove others and change other stuff around. It's like a child that continues to grow and change.

How long will you keep this tour going?

- Bob Dylan has talked about how easy it is to just go on touring since you continuously discover and learn new things, while at the same time you constantly think of new ways to improve the concerts. However, my tour is nearing it's end now. I want to go back in to the studio to finish my album, as well as planning future surprises for my audience.

It's no secret that certain parts of the music press never have been huge fans of Jarre's work. Also, it has been customary among artists who want to keep their street cred to make excuses when they cite him as an influence. In the past couple of years this attitude seems to have changed, though.

In 2010 Jean Michel Jarre was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Mojo. Among several of the artist that yours truly have interviewed this year both M83 and Röyksopp have expressed their admiration for Jarre's work. Anthony Gonzales has also gone on record saying that the very reason he's doing music today is because of seeing one of Jarre's outdoor extravaganzas on TV as a kid. Several other artists, especially on the elctronica scene, are also talking fondly about Jarre.

Do you feel that this is a vindication for you and your music?

- That's the cycle of life I guess. When you're doing something special and outside of the norm, you will always attract people with many different attitudes and emotions, including jealousy and negativity. I think if you stay true to your artistic vision and hold on to what yo believe in, people will after a while start looking at what you do in a different light. Hopefully in a more objective way.
Jarre feels more in tune with the today's artists than he used to. - However, it doesn't really matter what people think. I would never let it change the goals I have within my form of art.

Big and small
Jean Michel Jarre is really an artist whose career is full of contrasts. He has several time beaten his own record for attracting the largest concert crowds, the ultimate achievement being Moscow in 1997 where a whooping 3.5 million people showed up. In 1983 he pressed one single copy of the album Music for Supermarkets, had the master tape burned and put the album up for auction.

For almost twenty years Jarre never toured, but he has now been on the road for the better part of 2.5 years. In addition, both his shows and concerts have been filled with a mixture of old and modern technology and styles.

You never do things by halves. Are these contrasts by accident or design?

- Thats a very good point and and a very interesting question. Jarre contemplates a bit before he continues: - It's true that I like contrasts, and that I'm fully committed when I'm doing something. No matter what I do, I give it one hundred percent. As an artist you never count the hours you spend on something. You fuel your work on your own energy, wish and desire to fulfill what you're working on. When I started this tour, for instance, I wanted to learn as much as I could during the whole process. That's the philosophy behind everything I've done in my career, and will also be so for my future projects.

In the last couple of years, Jarre has spread his wings and become involved in the design of sound systems, especially for the Ipod. This has so far culminated in the presentation of the biggest Ipod rack ever, which was presented in Germany earlier this autumn. You need a ladder reach the spot where you're supposed to insert the Ipod.

Is this an attempt to become a business man as well as being a musician?

- No, I don't think so, Jarre refutes. - The reason I became involved with the production of sound systems was not a business decision, but an artistic decision. I think it's time for us musicians to contemplate the reasons for why the music business is in a crises. Personally I feel one of the reasons is that we have become emotionally detached from music. Because of technology we no longer have any physical or organic contact with music.

Jarre thinks we've become like archivists, walking around with our music in our pockets. - We no longer care about how we are listening to music. So my reasons for designing sound systems are purely artistic.

The concert in Bergen was Jarre's fourth concert in Norway in the past three years. He feels he has established a very special contact with the Norwegian audience. He also wishes to dispel a myth:

- In Europe we seem to think that people from southern Europe are so warm because they live under the sun most of the year. The truth is the opposite. There's a special warmth coming from the Norwegian audience. I think it is caused by your climate, you are warm on the inside rather than on the outside. I think that's the main reason why I like Norway so much.

He also liked Bergen very much. - It's a very beautiful city which I became aware of a while ago. I've also now have a strong link with Bergen via your world famous group Röyksopp. I've loved them from the beginning and their last album Senior is something I've was listening to on a daily basis for quite some time.

Jarre met up with the Norwegian electronica duo after his concert in Bergen. - I felt we established a good connection and my hope is that it will lead to us doing something together in the future. Who knows?

What we do know is that it's impossible to predict what Jean Michel Jarre will do at the next crossroad.
 All photos: elfworld.org
This is an English translation of an interview originally published in Norwegian at musikknyheter.no.
 Source: elfworld.org


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