Jean-Michel Jarre provides an intimate insight into the history of electronic music technology, and his new album Electronica.



Jean-Michel Jarre is a composer, performer, songwriter, and producer whose pioneering approach to electronic music and live performance has influenced a generation. After studying with Pierre Schaeffer, creator of musique concrete at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), Jarre recorded the seminal 1976 album Oxygène in his makeshift home studio – the album sold 18 million copies internationally. Jarre’s 17 studio albums have totaled over 80 million sales, and he resides in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest concert attendance for a show in 1997.


“I started making electronic music at the GRM with Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry as teachers. At that time I was using oscillators, tape recorders, and experimenting with sound. We were a bunch of crazy guys with odd instruments, but with a fresh approach. I had no idea at the time that I was opening doors to virgin territories – I was only creating what was in my mind.

I always had this organic approach to sound, mixing acoustic instruments, hardware and electronic processing. At the same time, I tried to continuously equip my studio with the latest tools, testing and adding new technologies. That way I could best explore all the concepts I had in mind. For my album Zoolook, I traveled around the globe to record samples of voices and sounds in a very traditional, acoustic way – but then used the Fairlight in the studio, which at that time (1984) was the state-of-the-art sampling machine.

This exploration and mixing of technologies has followed me throughout my whole career, from the first modular synth, to polyphonic synths, drum machines, digital keyboards, plug-ins... I'm now even using a few iPad apps. Exploring new technologies keeps my curiosity alive and inspires me to go further in what I do.”


“The digital era has allowed more flexibility in my recordings. I don’t have to bring my whole studio with me all the time, so I can maintain a steady workflow even when I’m on the road and traveling.

I didn’t like the sound of plug-ins at the very beginning. I felt it needed more time to make them equal to, or better than, the hardware machines, but now I must say, I sometimes prefer them to some of the new analog synths.

These days I’m more and more confident in just using my DAW and a couple of plug-ins to work on tracks, and I can just add the finishing touches back in my studio.”


"With my double album Electronica, I wanted to travel through the story of Electronic Music with those I feel that have brought their own singular contribution to our genre.

I gathered a group of artists from different generations – artists who have influenced me and who are a constant source of inspiration. I composed specifically for each of them and collaborated with them directly. All of these artists have a unique and instantly recognizable sound.

Electronic music has a family, a legacy and a future."

Learn more about Jean-Michel Jarre at his official website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.