Guitar-based electronic music: an interview with Jerome Froese
Date: September 19 2008
Jerome, can you sketch a bit of your personal & musical background, beside the fact that you’re the son of TD’s Edgar Froese?
I grew up in a small flat in West Berlin in the first years of the ‘70’s. In 1976, Edgar took over the studio rooms of Klaus Schulze which were only a one minute walk away. Further, we changed places with some old couple who lived in the same flat. At this time everything came together: living, working, office etc.
Fortunately, I always had the chance to play around with the equipment of TD, even if I wasn’t aware of what I’m doing with it. In 1983, I moved to boarding schools in Switzerland and stayed there until 1987.
During that time music was all around me, I took piano lessons and played guitar in several bands. Being in competition with my friends kept my motivation and enthusiasm alive. All guitar orientated rock music taught us at that time. If you’ve heard something new or interesting you got to sit down and practise it.
When I moved back to Berlin in 1987, the ATARI ST caught my attention right away and after three years I was able to produce some tunes which later appeared on TD albums.
At what time & circumstances did you decide to join your father in Tangerine Dream? How was it to become a member part of such a famous band?
In our family, the description of being “famous” or “prominent” did never exist. The fact that TD did some things that will go down in music history is unquestionable but for us it was normal life. Some people go out to cook a meal, my dad goes out to play a concert, that easy. To be a part of the band wasn’t my intention for all the years but as I had the chance to join, I saw a possibility to take a huge learning step forward in producing music in a perfect environment.
A bit later I noticed that conditions were a bit critical, as the band was in an upheaval phase therefore looking for new musical challenges. In the following years this sometimes turned out to be a nightmare because every dislike in newer TD by the press or fans was based on my person. This was a very interesting experience on my way to be “thick-skinned” on critics nowadays.
In which way have you influenced/changed the sound Tangerine Dream?
I don’t know, I’ve always composed and produced the way I like it and never cared about the consequences……….
What was the reason to quit Tangerine Dream (of which rumours said it was a father-son-issue). What was the last album you worked on in that formulae?
The year 2000 was kind of turning point, Edgar and myself just went through some terrible times and as a direct consequence a lot of things in our relationship changed. Beside that, I wasn’t overly excited about the return of the saxophone and the addition of Latin percussion. Therefore, in late 2006 I felt that it’s time to leave. My last official recording with TD was “Jeanne D’Arc”.
At the present day, I would call my relationship to Edgar a “friendly but distant” one.
What made you decide to start your own label Moonpop, or was it just a vehicle to release your own music?
We had some very good and educational years running our own label TDI Music. Therefore, it was a logical thing to build up on those experiences and put them into Moonpop. A lot of goals still haven’t been paralleled but I am not in a hurry and that’s all right with me.
In 2005 you released you first full album “Neptunes”. How would you describe your own music and the music on this album in particular?
I’m better on guitar then on keys no doubt whatsoever and I always dreamed of using the guitar as a sequencer, solo instrument or FX machine. You can put much more variation in a guitar tone than into a sample which sounds the same every time you play it. My goal was to reduce all other instruments like drums and keys etc. to a minimum. Aside from that I realized more and more that it’s not invariably the case that a guitar is bound to a typical tone. That’s why I call my sound “Guitartronic(a)”
On the cd-sleeve of “Neptunes” you thank your deceased mother Monica Froese for her advise, which is missed. What kind of advises did she give you?
In the last months of her life she gave me an insight of things that will happen in the future and she was right.
What does your Noontide studio in Berlin look like? Can you give a description of the gear you use?
Quite unspectacular. Two twin towers with outboard stuff from the TD days and a few effect pedals on the ground. Some kind of “spatial order” seems to be a neurosis of myself so you may very rarely find equipment in my studio that I’m not actually using. All my productions run on a PC with XP and Steinberg’s Nuendo Hard- and Software and due to the guitar, MIDI becomes less and less important. My main working tool is an American “Fender PLUS Stratocaster” with “Lace Sensor Pickups” this sainthood never leaves my studio for any reason that’s why I’m using an equal looking model for live performances. The outboard guitar effects are crafted by BOSS & Digitech and I love my “Killer Wail” Wah from Tech 21. That’s about it.
A few years ago, you were invited to play at the E-Day, but unfortunately the concert was cancelled. What was the reason for that ? Are you still interested to do a show at that location (E-Day or E-Live) ?
That’s old hat! I don’t see a reason for another attempt.
You did re-record, re-compile and re-master tracks from the Dream Mixes Vol. 1 & 2 for DM 2.1. What did you have in mind for these projects? Will there also be a DM 4.2 (which was listed on the cd-sleeve of DM 2.1)?
Quite simple … The regular TDI back catalogue went out of print in late 2005 and I was keen to keep parts from it alive in a different way. “DM4.2” is still on our to-do list, but I cannot give you a release date yet.
After some delay, your second album “Shiver me Timbers” (SMT) was released in 2007. In what way did you is it different from “Neptunes”, did you also set other goals for this one?
When I recorded “Neptunes” it was like a side project within my work with TD. To finish several projects at the same time was a “Tangerine Dream” standard situation and over the years I was trained to produce complete songs in very short time periods.
Therefore, my time reserves for writing solo material were very limited. “SMT” was a completely different situation, it took about two years to write and record all the tracks. Suddenly I had all the time in the world and it was weird to get this situation under control. To select the songs for the release was struggling me again cause this time I had way too much material. But after all I’m very satisfied with the result.
You also work on side projects (e.g. TdJ Rome) next to your own music. Is this correct, and if so, what is there to tell about them? Did you ever consider collaborating with other musicians for your music?
Well, I would call my myself a “lone wolf artist” that means that I get best and fastest results when I work alone. I really like to jam with people and in general I’m open minded to collaborations, but I tend to be impatient which could drive others into a rage.
Anything in the works at the moment? Any plans for live performances in the near future?
Currently, I’m working on my third album which will probably differ again to the last one and I’ll try my best to finish it until spring 2009.
Unfortunately, I’m not in the mood for any gigs at the moment.
Any other things you like to tell or share, which hasn’t been discussed…..
Well, maybe a joke:
How do you realize a bad live gig?
When it starts at 8:00pm and after three hours your watch shows 8:30pm 😉