“Our job as musicians is to make noise. And making noise of a certain kind, in certain places can have consequences on a social and political level. Music, since its beginning, has had a role to play,” explains Jean-Michel Jarre, recently having played on a concert on the edge of the Dead Sea.
On the site of the ancient Masada fortress in Israel, to be specific. The artist wanted to underscore the risk of the Dead Sea drying up, since the sea levels have been dropping year after year.
Since the beginning of May, the electronic music composer has been making rounds through North America on his “Electronica Tour“. He’ll be venturing through some of the most celebrated venues in the country, like Radio City Music Hall in New York and the more recent Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, which is one of the biggest venues in the US. In the fifty years of Jarre’s career, this pioneer of electronic music has only played on US soil once, in 1986, for the 25th anniversary of NASA, when set a Guinness World Record for greatest concert attendance with 1.5 million spectators.
“I wanted this tour to go through the US because these most recent projects began thanks to several collaborations with American artists,” said Jarre. In 2015 and 2016, he released two albums, both called Electronica, featuring some of the biggest artists on the American and international music scene like M83, Depeche Mode, Moby, and even the film scorer Hans Zimmer.
For this tour, the musician is focused on creating unique scenography. “We’ve conceived the concert’s special effects to create 3D images without needing 3D glasses,” explained Jarre. “The idea is to express the music visually.” A stager will adjust the effects throughout the concert to preserve “the idea of a unique concert.”
“One of the themes of electronica is this ambiguous relationship with technology. On one hand, we’ve got the world in our pockets with smart phones, but on the other, we know that we’re being watched by the surrounding world,” explains the composer, who went to Moscow to record Edward Snowden for the track “Exit” that will be played during most of his upcoming concerts on the US tour. “It’s an aspect of the tour that has a particular resonance with new politics currently underway in the US.”
Jarre’s work has assumed a political dimension since the beginning of his career, most notably for the cause of climate change. Most notably with with his album “Oxygène” in 1976 and with his role as an UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1993. “Whether or not there are calls to action in my songs doesn’t change anything. Instead, go play on the shores of the Dead Sea, for example, that sends a real message,” impressed Jarre. “Electronic music has a role to play in politics, since the people who make electronic music are, by definition, much closer to digital technology. And plenty of societal questions that have arisen today from the development of the internet and the role of these big technological actors who are becoming giants that control the planet.“