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[interview] Dominique Perrier

Post Posted Tue May 08, 2007 5:57 pm

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Location: Zwolle, The Netherlands
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Dominique Perrier

by GeeJee

When talking about Jean Michel Jarre’s collaborators besides Michel Geiss and Francis Rimbert, Dominique Perrier is an inevitable subject. Serving JMJ with close artistic collaborations, but more notably, being the man behind the solos on albums and during stage performances. He managed to become one of the most popular bandmembers, but simply vanished after the recordbreaking concert in Moscow in 1997. What happened to him...? GeeJee tracked him down to fire some serious question at him...

GeeJee: Tell us how you got started in music.
Dominique: I began playing the piano at five. My father is a pianist, and my grandfather was violoncellist. I studied violoncello between 12 and 15 years old, I managed to play it quite well. But when first turntables appeared I formed my first band, "Les Outlaws", specialized in the shadows repertoire. We were repeating on Saturday and Sunday because I was still going to school. I was working the lithography burn at the Ecole Estienne, where I met a very good jazz guitarist who learned me how to read sheet music, I made a lot of progress at this moment, met a lot of musicians and singers as Fr David, with who I did for the first time a tour in a play of Picasso "Le Diable Attrapé Par La Queue", true happening in 1969. There was the sofs-machine, of who I was fan, who were playing in second part. At the start of the new school year, I quitted school and it was Michel Assa (the bassist) who connected me with Michel Fugain, whom I accompanied during two years and a half. When I was 22 years old, I began to write arrangements for Michel and for others...At 25 I met Eric Demarsan, with whom I collaborated during two years, then it was Christophe’s turn, who made me know the ARP Odyssey synth.

G: And you met Jean Michel when worked with Christophe, right?
D: Yes, I met Jean-Michel at Studios Ferber, where we were spending nights with Francis Dreyfus and Christophe to search sounds on this little keyboard...

G: Tell us how your band “Space Art” got together.
D: It was mostly a need, when having all these sounds under the hand, to make them living. After the recording of "Bahamas", the album of Christophe’s band, we stayed, Roger Rizzitelli and me. There had his drum running every time at Ferber ...We had the studio for us ! I was swimming in this musical ambiance. And it was done in 15 days, with an ARP and the studio’s percussions, an Eminent and a Hammond organ.

G: And after that?
D: As soon as the album was released, we smelt it would work. I was a bit tired, I remember, after 2 full years at the studio (2 albums of Christophe, one of Bahamas and of many artists who were passing...). I escaped to countryside! ...by letting alone the promo which, after all, didn’t need me –I know, it is not well-mannered- but the concept by itself obliged me to.
We even made all television-shows the day on which Carrère, the distributor, met me...by phone in a café in which I was at this moment...!

Space Art
Dominique Perrier teamed up with Roger Rizzitelli, who would later join on stage during Jean Michel’s Concerts In China, to form his band Space Art. By the end of the seventies, they had released 3 albums entitled Onyx, Trip In The Center Head and Play Back and one 12 inch single entitled Nous Savons Tout. Both are very interesting pieces of analog synth history and are certainly worth to be chased down. Both albums have been re-issued on the German Repertoire-label, but Onyx appears to be currently out of print. Trip In The Center Head is still available for order at amongst others www.groove.nl. A special Space Art boxed set with bonus tracks will be released next year.

Image Image Image
Onyx (1976), Trip In The Center Head (1978) and Play Back (1980)

A video set to the music of Onyx (1976) can be found here. The video quality is not that good, but it at least gives you an idea of what this music sounds like.

G: You then went on to work with Jean Michel for the first time directly.
D:That’s when I was coming back from Singapore, where I was gone to a piano-bar to relax. Jean-Michel went to see me at my house. We talked during an afternoon of all this experience. And the Concerts In China, well…
The glance filled with wonder of some Chinese, naive and curious, who were noting our sound’s change on their notebooks, remain for me the best souvenir of these concerts.

G: What was your exact role during those concerts?
D: For the first concert in China, I had found my instrument: the Moog Liberation (the first portable). It was really the liberty, at the moment during which keyboard players were obliged to remain locked up in an enormous amount of machines. That’s of course the role of the soloist JM gave me.
I did it with a lot of pleasure…

G: How did you collaborate with Fréderic Rousseau and Roger Rizzitelli during those concerts?
D: Fréderic Rousseau was specialised in sequences, with MDB 8 tracks, the pioneer, I think. As for Bunny, (Roger Rizzitelli) put aside he has a wonderful drum sound, an unique way to play it and besides that, he was and still is my friend.

G: After that you worked with Didier Marouani and his band Space, right?
D: Yes, - I participated to a tour as a keyboardist. The work was different from JM, there wasn’t creating, tracks were arranged, there were scores...
I worked on “Paris-France-Transit”.
It was sounding good, especially tracks sung by the ”Vicking”, an old member from the band “Titanic”.

G:You didn’t work with JMJ during his concert in Lyon in 1986…
D: JM didn’t invite me for this concert, I don’t know why, but as soon as he went back, he asked me to work the solos. Actually, from this moment, I remained in his studio for a long time.

G: After this, you became one of Jean Michel’s long-time collaborators. What do you recall of those extraordinary outdoor concerts?
D: Concerts were a flood of technologies. But they were very long to prepare (6 months in the studio and about 2 weeks on site). In London, the rain was drowning us and the stage, mounted on rafts, started to float off the docks… panic!!

G: You worked closely to Jean Michel on a few of his albums between 1986 and 1993. What was your role during this collaboration?
D: I worked with JM on the second Rendez-Vous solo, the Arabic violoncellos on Révolutions, the Steel Drums on En Attendant Cousteau, the solos on Chronologie, and a lot more. I think I was very close to Jean Michel in his musical spirit. It worked out very well.

G: During the concert at this time, you became the bands soloist once again. How did you get into this role?
D: It happened by itself…

G: During the Europe In Concert tour, Jean Michel chose to work with Patrick Rondat as the soloist on electric guitar. This competition pushed you in a corner behind a pile of synths for the first time in a decade…
D: Patrick Rondat became a big friend. He is a virtuoso and he brings a lot in JMJ’s shows. The guitar was good amongst all these synths! We were never in competing…on the contrary! He reproduced perfectly the notes of my chorus, a true happiness!

G: What is your favourite instrument to play on?
D: I’ll upset you. It is the piano. It is the most pleasant one, the one which is sounding the best.

G: I actually meant synths. I remember from an old article your favourite was a Kurzweil K2000 back then…
D: Indeed, I love a lot the K2000, but things evolved… now there is the Triton...

G: When playing the solos in the studio or on stage, which midi controller did you like to play the most? Or do you prefer to solo directly on the keyboard? And what about ribbons and pitch sticks etc.?
D: The Moog Liberation midified, but I prefer to play directly on the synth. I prefer 2 separate wheels for modulation and pitch.

G: Your favourite solo?
D: Souvenir De Chine, version live from the Oxygene Tour with a Nord Lead.

G: Can you actually still play all those solos?
D: You can’t loose them!

G: And what about all those fans and musicians who try to replicate your solos up to the smallest details?
D: That’s good in the beginning but you have to create your own chorus when you have a bit technical skill… Always listen to good music and never copy!

G: Were you working on any private projects while working with Jean Michel?
D: Of course, I was working on personal things but Jean-Michel was omnipresent, and I was happy as a child when I was taking the road to his studio

G: What’s your most memorable moment when you worked with him?
D: I have too many good souvenirs to choose one… maybe when we went to record steel-drums at Trinidad, the orchestra was waiting for us in a miserable garage, with children who were playing in the dust… an electric discharge from the firsts tempo snatched tears from my eyes. The ground began to tremble, time stopped. Never had I felt an emotion so huge.

G: In the early nineties you started another personal project, a band, called Stone Age. Tell us about it!
D: I just had finished my studio when a friend keyboardist, Jérome Gueguen, sent me a demo sung in Breton. With Michel Valy (bass) and Marc Hazon (drum) we finalised it, and did other titles with some instrumentation tracks and two titles in English sung by my wife, Janette Woollacott.
For tracks in Breton, that is Marielle Hervé who took care of the vocal parts.
Then, we added traditional instruments like bombarde and bag-pipes (Youenn Leberre), Yuleen pipe (Davy Spillane). Sony signed us on the label Colombia.

Stone Age (from left to right): Jerome Gueguen (aka Lach'llaouet; Synths, Vocals, Accordeon, Keypipe), Michel Valy (aka Kervador; Bass, Vocals, Mandoline), Marc Hazon (aka Marc De Ponkallec; Drums, Percussions, Vocals) and Dominique Perrier (aka Terracotta; Keyboards, Vocals). Not in the picture: Janette Woollacott (aka Maureen; vocals), Mariëlle Brenda & Gaëlle Hervé (aka Maribrengaël Triad; vocals), Youenn Leberre (aka Youenn; flutes)

G: What can you say about the style of Stone Age? Many people refer to it as being similar to Era, Enigma and Deep Forest...
D: That’s true, but unlike Deep Forest, our inspiration came from our garden...:D

G: In your band, everybody has nicknames.. you are called Terra Cotta, for example. What is the story behind those names?
D: There are the results of some meetings of fun... They are purely invented, except for the Marquis de Poncallec who really existed (hazon).

G: And Patrick Rondat was involved too?
D: Patrick Rondat came to do some guitars on the second album, because he had a sound which mixed itself perfectly with synths, voices, and to traditional instruments.

G: What is your role in the band?
D: My role was going from musician to producer, by passing by maintenance of the studio and the empty of ashtrays…

G: Did you perform any concerts?
D: We did a memorable tour in Bretagne, the interceltic festival of Lorient, Disneyland, concerts anywhere in a moody ambiance and friendly.
From the release of the first album, results abroad were very good : Japan, Australia, Canada, United States (where the band is called “Stone-Edge”)

Stone Age first released an album in 1994, entitled simply Stone Age, with a style very similar to what we currently know as Enigma, Era and Deep Forest. Another album was released in 1997, entitled Les Chronovoyageurs, which featured collaborations with amongst others Patrick Rondat and… Claude Samard, that’s right, JMJ’s current musical director. This world is small, you see? Other known band members include Michel Valy, Guy Delacroix’ substitute during the Hong Kong concert on bass. Stone Age then went on to record their third album Promessa and have been working on their next album for quite a long time. It’s planned to be released early next year.

Stone Age (1994) and Les Chronovoyageurs (1997)

Click here for a videoclip of Maribrengaël (1997) and a few other live clips of Stone Age.

Similar to Enigma and the likes or not, Stone Age has a style of their own. The music is very original and unique and deserves to be chased down. Unfortunately all albums are out of print and can only be found on the secondhand market.

G:What can you tell us about the upcoming Stone Age album?
D: It is the fourth album of Stone Age. Most played (organ, piano, bass, drum), still with traditional instruments (bagpipes, bombard, flute, played by Youenn Leberre, violins, played by Robert Legall, cello, played by Anton Yakovleff) female voices (Janette Woollacott, Marielle and Gaël Hervé, Maria Popkiewics), René Lebhar at guitar as well as Patrick Rondat. It is more ‘live’ than the other. My friend Bunny Rizzitelli came to take his hand into drums programmation on a track. The realisation of this album took 3 years. That’s a tribute to Armorica Indians.

G: You’re also working on soundtracks, and you work for TV… what can you say about this?
D: I laughed a lot with my friend Bob Decout who always has ideas which are irritating others, the way of dialogues and an irresistible humour.
For RTL, - I realised some music with Gaya Bécaud (announcement, information, commas, weather reports and generics)

G: After the concert in Moscow in 1997, you seem to have vanished from the JMJ scene? What happened..?
D: I needed to go away from this tour ambiance, but not from Jean-Michel, with who I’m still friend.

G: Things move on, and Jean Michel changes the way he performs on stage, but many fans think JMJ should work with a band on stage. What do you think about this?
D: I completely agree.

G: You’re still very popular and a lot of people want you to return and to work with JMJ again…
D: I feel very flattered :D but I have to think about my family!

GeeJee likes to thank Dominique Perrier and Eric Vera as well as Nicolas Kern (aka Nico Noyau)

More info can be found at
Official Stone Age website | www.stone-age.fr

This interview © GeeJee / Zoolook 2006

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