There was a multitude of high profile musical gatherings taking place across Hollywood this weekend of the Grammys. Meanwhile, a fascinating musical discussion happened in front of a small, lucky crowd of fans and journalists on Thursday evening, February 9 at the Record Parlour in Hollywood. Amidst the antique jukeboxes and retro pinball machines in the stores Americana Lounge, the truly legendary Jean-Michel Jarre lead a discussion and interview discussing electronic music.
The occasion was prompted by the announcement that Jarre’s album Electronica 1: The Time Machines was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Dance/Electronic Album” category. The French pioneer of electronic music also announced that he was planning his first concert tour of the United Staes ever. Jarre’s amazing live shows are usually unique events, with huge visual displays that have attracted the largest crowds ever for the live music events. His original presentation on Bastille day in 1979 in the Place de la Concorde, France tower drew over a million people. It was the first entry in the Guinness Book of Records for largest outdoor concert crowd. He topped that phenomenal feat several times, but in 1997 he attracted 3.7 million to a huge concert in Moscow. Jarre is planning his next massive presentation in April in front of the ancient city of Masada in Israel.
The discussion in Hollywood lead by radio personality Nic Harcourt centered around the new double album release of the Electronica album with the second record, Electronica II: The Heart of Noise, featuring a whole new array of collaborators. The discussion featured some of the participants in the new project, including Hans Zimmer, Gary Numan, Moby, Little Boots and Julia Holter. The panel of prominent musical proponents of the electronica genre spanned multiple generations of successful music making. The discussion may have been one of the most insightful ever undertaken in revealing the creative musical process for these brilliant musicians. Besides Jarre and Zimmer, who came from European musical backgrounds, most of the other participants began the musical quest in mediocre punk rock bands before discovering theirs in the world of electronic music.
Jarre, looking more like a fit 40-year-old than the 68-year-old master musician that he is must have found the fountain of youth in his chosen occupation. The incredibly astute discussion revealed his creative process, his musical inspirations and his motivation that lead to this extensive collaboration which has become his most rewarding musical project. All the participants had a fascinating story to tell. Jarre reminded the panel that Moby had been dubbed “the Woody Allen of electronica.” Moby relayed his stumble into the electronic world from his awful punk rock guitar playing in a self-effacing way that endeared him to the audience. He essentially said that he ended up making electronic music because it was too hard to get his band compatriots into one place at any given time. His electronic genius has made him one of the most sought-after collaborators in the modern EDM world.
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Julia Holter has followed in the giant footsteps of experimental artists Like Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson. The Los Angeles singer had a unique enough sound on her self-created recording that she captured the attention of Jarre. In contrast, the 59-year-old German music composer Hans Zimmer claims no inherent musical prowess. “My only musical training was two weeks of piano lessons,” the witty producer revealed. The composer of over 150 major motion picture scores revealed that “instead of trying to get electronic synthesizers to sound like an orchestra he attempts to get a real orchestra to sound like the sounds he develops on the synthesizers.”
English singer Victoria Christina Hesketh, better known by her stage name Little Boots had a much more traditional musical background beginning her piano lessons at age five and canting her musical education into college. Little Boots moved from a moderate successful electronic rock band, Dead Disco, into a successful solo career as a singer-songwriter and DJ. She relayed a story of how she tried to build her first synthesizer from scratch and somehow made it work at a Coachella gig until it fell apart.
Another English musician on the panel, the enchanting genius, who helped introduce early electronic dance music to the world, Gary Numan revealed his introduction to the genre. The musician who has mentored and inspired some of the most intense music of the genre including that of Trent Reznor in Nine Inch Nails also began as a punk rock guitarist. Looking for something to set his musical style apart from the masses he revealed “He stumbled upon a Moog synthesizer and just began twisting knobs. I had no idea what I was doing but luckily whoever used the instrument before me left it on the right settings and I got the sounds out of it that inspired me to make my music.”