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The Shiny happy people [2006-10-04]

Jean Jacques Perrey was one of the first people to mix sampled and cutup sounds into his and his then musical partner Gershon Kingsley. Pop of the mid sixties, but produced with the use of Moog's and tapesplice techniques hitherto reserved for 'serious' music. His work is instantly familiar to millions as their 1966 debut album The In Sound From Way Out is thought of one of the classic lounge/Moog records of all time. Dana Countryman set up and editor of Cool And Strange magazine and is a talented musicians in his own right. They have just released their new collaboration The Happy Electropop Music Machine - which I reviewed here. Jean Jacques and Dana kindly agreed to give me an e-mail interview.

m[m] How did you and Dana first meet?
Dana I was originally a fan of Jean-Jacques' music, as a teenager. Much later, in 1996, I started a music magazine called Cool And Strange Music Magazine. Jean-Jacques was one of the first artists we featured on the cover. We just struck up a friendship and eventually I had done so many articles on him, that he started calling me "his official biographer"!
Jean-Jacques We were originally writing to each other by fax, then in the year 2000, Dana came to visit me in Paris.

m[m] How did the idea of doing the new album come about?
Dana As JJ said, I came to Paris in 2000 to interview JJ, and while there, I asked him to record a single tune with me in a friend's studio there.
Jean-Jacques Our collaboration on this song went so well, that I asked Dana to work on an entire CD with me. I realized that he was a very talented composer on his own, and I did well to choose Dana as my collaborator! I have been very inspired in our work together!

m[m] How does the way you recording now vary from how you did back in the 60’s?
Jean-Jacques Since the computer was not available for recording in the early sixties, in those days I spliced little tips of magnetic tape to make crazy loops and crazy sequences with enviromental sounds, in my New York recording Studio. It was very "time-consuming"!
But now, thanks to computers and samplers, it's much easier and faster to do the same kinds of things - it is magic!

m[m] You were one of the first people to use cutups and samples in standard song, what do you think of the more computer based cutups we’ve been seeing for some years now?
Jean-Jacques The technology is improving so fast nowaydays in this matter! Musicians are more updated about everything.

m[m] Do you still prepare your cut up sounds in the same traditional way or do you use technology more these days?
Jean-Jacques Yes, I use all the new computer technologies for recording now. Dana is a fantastic specialist in this area!
Dana We used a G5 Macintosh with Digital Performer to record this CD with. We also used midi technology, but were very careful not to make it sound too "mechanical", which is a danger with midi.

m[m] Will you be doing a world wide tour for this album?
Jean-Jacques We both hope! Our manager, Patricia Leroy (who happens to be my daughter), is already in negotiations for a U.K. tour in Spring of 2007. And we are already contemplating to make a second CD, in this same style!
Dana Yes, we've already written 4 or 5 tunes for our next project, which we plan to have ready in about 2 years.
Jean-Jacques Patricia also has many proposals for others countries: South America, Canada, etc. We also would like to go to Europe and Japan!
Dana We always bring our families on tour now, so it is a lot of work, but a lot of fun, that way! We all went to Disneyland, at the end of our recent West Coast tour. Of course, Jean-Jacques is always a "guest of honor" there, since he co-wrote the music for the Disney Electrical Parade...

m[m] Your music has always been very positive and fun loving, do you think there any modern artist that a keeping alive your feeling of Fun?
Jean-Jacques Not to my knowledge (for the moment!)

Dana I wish I could say that there was. I'm really hoping that some younger musicians will get back to writing catchy melodies, and not just mash-ups and bass and drums stuff. Where have all the Henry Mancini's and Irving Berlin's gone? The talent is out there, it just is having trouble getting out of people! I firmly believe that.

m[m] What kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?
Jean-Jacques I listen to all kinds of music: modern, contemporary (provinding it is coherent), classical, romantic, etc ....We are opened to listen to all kinds of music!
Dana Jean-Jacques is a big fan of both Mozart and Kurt Weill, to name just two that come to mind. As for me, I'm a big fan of Leroy Anderson's melodies (I just recently discovered him), and I listen to mostly older music from the fifties and sixties - the classic Space Age Bachelor Pop stuff.
Dana We hope, that with our new CD, The Happy Electropop Music Machine, that we can bring back a bit of the classic melodic style of the past, and also present it with a bit of craziness and a sense of humor!. Jean-Jacques and I love to laugh, and we did a lot of that in the studio when we were recording this CD!

Thanks to Jean Jacques and Dana for the interview and thanks to Dana for making the interview possible. You can find samples, how to buy direct and more details on the new album here. All photos © 2006 Mark Griswold - kindly used with permission.

Roger Batty
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