MOJO: Did you have some idea of how you wanted these collaborations to sound?
Jean-Michel Jarre: I prepared some demos with music I liked but also my fantasy idea of what I wanted from them. I composed music with these people in mind. In some cases what you think is Tangerine Dream or Moby is Jean Michel Jarre, and the reverse. The Tangerine Dream track especially is a real enigma.
The most surprising collaborator is Pete Townshend. What made you approach him?
From the beginning Pete was high on my list. He was the man who introduced sequencers to rock music with Baba O’Riley in the days 09701 when nobody else was doing this. But Pete was also the inventor of the rock opera, and has always had this overwhelming vision. He still has this fresh, untouched rebel punk attitude and pure British humour. We spent an afternoon in his kitchen in Richmond, and just clicked. We decided to do a three-part mini-electro rock opera. Travelator Part Two is on this album. The next part will be on the next Electronics album and the third part will appear when the whole electro-opera is released as a package before Christmas.
With several younger musicians on Electronics, including Air, it’s tempting to think of you as a mentor to the next generation of electronic musicians.
I’ve always said there’s a lot of Oxygene in Air. But it’s mutual. We both share this impressionistic vision of electronic music. The track we did together [Close Your Eyes] revisited all the equipment from the 1950s to the modern day – an old synth, the first beat I made with a tape loop, a Moog Modulator, Fairlight, a plug-in… The last sound you hear on the track is an iPad.
I’ll be touring this project and hopefully playing outdoor festivals. Glastonbury and Coachella would be great. I’m looking at new visual themes and thinking, “How can we be relevant at festivals in 2016?”