Jean Michel Jarre — Sessions 2000. How to force someone to record an album

George Palladev 10.04.2023

Jean Michel Jarre — Sessions 2000. How to force someone to record an album

Just like with Music for Supermarkets, Jarre’s little-known album Sessions 2000 is interesting not so much because of the music (the author himself says that he likes only a couple of moments on the disc), but because of its history. Jarre was 100% forced to create it. A little context: in 1997, Jean-Michel released the sequel to his classic album Oxygène and, thus, closed his twenty-year era as a classic electronic musician. Having finished a tour in support of a record with remixes from young electronic artists, the 50-year-old Jarre was going to enter the new millennium as an electronic experimenter. He was inspired by the capabilities of digital audio workstations that fit an entire studio in one laptop.

Jean Michel Jarre, Joachim Garraud

To embody his ideas, Jean-Michel invited Joachim Garraud (he worked on the sound design of the album with a club version of Oxygène in 1998, and in the noughties he brought David Guetta to stardom). Joachim refreshes Jarre’s electronic sound and together for a year and a half they were writing Métamorphoses, a genuine pop album with real songs and a lot of guest musicians. Jarre called the record ‘pop music of the future’ and partially presented it at a big New Year’s concert at the foot of the Egyptian pyramids.

It didn’t become the sensation of the millennium. Despite aggressive promos, videos, costly collaborations and trendy remixes, Métamorphoses didn’t pay off and the real sales were significantly lower than expected. All this greatly aggravated the conflict between Jarre and the head of the label, Francis Dreyfus, who had been publishing Jean-Michel’s music since 1976 and the album Oxygène. They blamed each other for the failure of the record with ‘pop music of the future’ for a whole year. Discussing the plans in 2001, Jarre suggested breaking the contract. His proposal was the last nail in the coffin of reconciliation. “You owe me two more albums,” Dreyfus replied, apparently wanting to compensate for the unsuccessful Métamorphoses with something more classic and loud. Jarre acted surprised: “Two albums? I have an agreement with Sony Music to distribute a few more records, but not with you.” But Francis was adamant. The departure of pretty much the main artist, especially without compensation, infuriated the head of the label. The former friends had nothing to talk about anymore; now they only communicated through their lawyers. But that was just the beginning. After leaving his musical home where his most famous works came out, Jarre started a lawsuit against it that took 10 long years.

Francis Dreyfus and Jean Michel Jarre. Late 90s

Jarre: “This started a very dark period of my life, actually. Francis Dreyfus and I were friends, and we grew up together, but I wanted to follow a different path than he wanted me to. I was so upset, that the following Christmas, I put two albums on his desk, and I said goodbye. This made him so furious that he didn’t want to release them.” Dreyfus also explained that releasing two albums at once was difficult. It takes many months to prepare one release. Sources report that the Dreyfus’ team wasn’t impressed by Jean-Michel’s farewell oeuvre; they listened to the sent discs reluctantly and half-heartedly.

Dreyfus put the first album, Experimental 2001, on the shelf and for more than twenty years no one except the authors have known more about its contents and fate. The second album, Sessions 2000, involved a passion of Dreyfus, who had been increasingly immersed in jazz music since 1991. Jean-Michel had no problems with jazz, and therefore he was pleased to present to us his half-assed album consisting of six electronic jazz sketches that he collected from sample libraries over a year together with his accomplice Francis Rimbert. They literally wrote some sketches in the studio, and then, after digging in the archives, released them as a record. The names of the tracks, such as May 1 and December 17, are basically the dates of recording sessions. Through their lawyers, both sides agreed to release only Sessions 2000 and thus Jarre fulfilled his obligations under the contract and was set free. The album was released casually and without unnecessary advertising, which, according to Jarre, didn’t prevent him from receiving the title of ‘Best independent album of the month’ in the United Kingdom. “He-he,” said the master.