Jean Michel Jarre in concert, Photo credit Eric Voake
April 5th 1986, something magical happened while a nation mourned the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew. Jean-Michel Jarre set a Guinness Book of Records (at the time) for the largest “rock concert” in history. It happened in downtown Houston, Texas. With the skyscrapers of Space City as the background, Jean-Michel Jarre put on a light show that was ahead of it’s time for the Texas crowd.
A few days ago, I was able to relive this moment in time through the story telling of Jean-Michel Jarre. We talked about his connection to Texas and a number of topics which include his upcoming North American Tour. I’m excited to see what the Electronica Pioneer has in store for Dallas and Houston. After coordinating time zones in our respective countries, we had the date and time set to talk all things Jarre.
EDM DFW: What can we expect during your North American Tour?
Jarre: We have the ambition to give the audience something they have not seen. We come to push the boundaries with new music and a surprise. The visual effects we are bringing will add the feeling of 3D along with the music. The combination of analog and digital will be fantastic. I’m convinced it is time for a new round of one-off shows based on sound design and visuals. Technology is in our DNA since we work with computers in our music. There is no limit to what we can attempt with music now.
EDM DFW: Your live experiences are cutting edge. What is it about your live performance?
Jarre: You know, when you watch something online you get a fake idea of what you are experiencing. You have to experience it live. The visuals that we bring can only be experienced live. So many times I have had an idea of what I thought something was and then when I have the opportunity to see it in person, it’s totally different, even better. You can not understand what a sound system is like through the internet. It will be okay but not the same.
EDM DFW: I’m excited about your show in Dallas!
Jarre: You’ll have to come out and experience the live visuals. I visit Dallas, TX on April 9th and then Houston, TX on April 10th. Texas has been good to me and our show in Houston of 1986, “Rendez-vous” had a record 1.5 million people in attendance. It was a massive show that could only happen in Texas.
EDM DFW: What do you remember about the show in Houston?
Jarre: Houston was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I’ve been to Moscow, China, Africa. We blocked off seven to eight miles of traffic and had giant lights on skyscrapers. Texas thinks big. But it was the involvement with NASA and the Challenger mission that I will never forget.
EDM DFW: You have a connection with NASA?
Jarre: The show “Rendez-vous” was during the 25th anniversary of NASA. NASA is a symbol for Texas and the World. The Challenger mission was a world disaster. A friend of mine was an astronaut on that mission. His name was Ron McNair and he was going to play the saxaphone from space during our concert. We were going to have music played from space along with the light and visual concepts we created.
EDM DFW: Please tell me more about these visual concepts.
Jarre: The things that you see in EDM festivals now, the lasers and lights, it reminds me of what we were doing 25 years ago. We premiered state of the art video mapping techniques using the skyline of Houston, Texas. The lights and lasers were over the top. It wasn’t done before.
EDM DFW: I watched a video of you working with a Euro Rack. Can you explain more about analog sound?
Jarre: Yes, the Analog Synth Modules Rack. Since the beginning of electronic music, we began producing with analog sound. We had these huge devices in a big box. I can remember carrying around synthesizers in a very big box and my mom would say, “Why no violin?” I love analog sound. It’s a deep big sound. Working with analog allows you to shape the sound step by step. Then technology advanced and we had keyboard pre-sets, then plugins now there are DJ controllers. All of these new designs and technology we have are based on what early analog did. I still prefer analog because you can create something different each time. The contact is almost sexual or sensual when working with the modules to create these organic sounds.
EDM DFW: What advice do you have for young musicians?
Jarre: It’s really simple advice. Find your own style. There are so many instruments and software to choose from. Sometime the instrument becomes obsolete. Choose your hardware carefully. Stick to that hardware for six months to a year, Seriously plug in and learn it. What will make the music specific and unique is being yourself. You’ll learn how to express yourself throughout your music the more you learn the skill. The internet has leveled the playing field letting a young guy compose, produce on a limited budget and it can be heard by anyone.
EDM DFW: What about advice for the 30+ crowd?
Jarre: You have to excite the imagination. Curiosity is very important. Stay curious. You have to leave your comfort zone in order to explore and stay creative. This helps you form a new frame of reference. If you started with the sound last time, start with the beat this time. Switch it up and stay excited.
Jean-Michel Jarre performs in Dallas April 9th and in Houston April 10th before heading to Coachella. He has six U.S dates and a stop in Canada. For more information about Jean-Michel Jarre, follow him on social media.