The Guardian has interviewed Jean-Michel Jarre on how “Oxygène” was made. They have also talked with Michel Granger, the man behind the famous cover artwork. It is a fascinating story indeed!
“I played in rock bands as a teenager and would use a tape machine my grandfather gave me to get processed sounds out of my guitar. During the French student uprisings of 1968, this felt like a way of being rebellious. I loved it when people said: “What is this crap?” But by the mid-70s, I wanted to bridge the gap between experimental music and pop.
I had done production work for some rock artists, earning enough to set up a studio in my kitchen. I didn’t have much equipment, though, just a few guitar pedals and my first synthesiser, an EMS VCS3, which looked like a telephone exchange. I realised that using a Revox tape machine to delay the sound that came out of one loudspeaker created a huge sense of space.
With so little to work with, I had to be creative. My old Mellotron had only a few working keys, but I still managed to write Oxygène (Part II) on it. My primitive drum machine – a Korg Mini Pops – was the sort of thing people played in pubs, but by using Sellotape I could make it play two preset rhythms at the same time, creating cool beats. Part IV, which became iconic, was a mixture of “slow rock” and “rock” , while Part VI combined “rumba” and “bossa nova”.”
Read the complete interview in The Guardian.