Updated: 01/05/00

In the amazing world of Tales, the listener is taken on thrilling ambient journeys through time and space. This is compelling music for the mind, all brought to you by a brilliant man named Jean-Luc Berthelot. Based out of France, Mr. Berthelot has gained quite an underground following with his musical project. We recently did an e-mail interview with the gentleman from Tales and here is what he had to say...

Highwire Daze: When did you initially get the idea to do this musical project called Tales?

Jean-Luc Berhelot: Since 20 years in fact. During the 80's, I've written some titles and stories for documentary-films and the idea to make concept-albums with cross-cultured and evocative music grew slowly in my mind at this time. But the real birth of TALES was in 1991 when I built a recording studio around this project.

HD: Prior to TALES, had you been involved with any other bands or musical ventures?

Jean-Luc: At age of 15 (1970), I was playing guitar in a college-band. We were playing titles from Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd and I've written some "Glam-Rock" titles for the band. I have some classical training in flute and piano but guitar was my first loved instrument. I became a synth lover in 1971 when I 've met the MiniMoog at a music-expo in Paris. During 1973-1974, with a friend I 've written scores for a modern Ballet company, a very strange experience in "avant-garde" music. To be honest, the music was unlistenable. Between 1975 and 1979, I 've toured as a bass-guitarist and arranger with Rocky Fury (my old brother, a semi-professional rock'n'roll singer). I 've written some titles and produced all the studio works. A funny time indeed.

In parallel with the Rocky Fury 's band, I've given in 1978 some concerts alone with keyboards and synths under the name of JIHEL. I was influenced at this time by Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. Maybe the concept of JIHEL was the first incarnation of TALES...

HD: What fascinates you the most about the life and times of Marco Polo, the subject of your new album?

Jean-Luc: During these times, open-minded travellers leave Europe for discovering other worlds. And the fascination begins with the encounter between two very different cultures, and, in the case of Marco Polo and the Great Mongol, two very different men who are over these differences and become great friends.

HD: Once you decide on a concept, is it hard sticking to it when you compose and record the music?

Jean-Luc: Not really. When I have the concept, I have too in mind all the pictures and the ideas for the music. The recording of the basic tracks is very quick, very instinctive because I am fully immersed in the concept. These basic tracks are often improvised, and after I put small touches of coloured sounds for reinforcing the ambience around the concept.

HD: What was the concept behind the INTERSTELLAR MEMORIES CD?

Jean-Luc: In fact it's the same concept as in the Marco Polo's album: a traveller describes new worlds, new cultures...

HD: What have some of your other CD's been about?

Jean-Luc: I often found ideas for music after watching a documentary-film or reading a book. I am interested in myths and legends, in science-fiction, in memories from travellers of all times.

HD: Have you ever played live and if so, what are the shows like?

Jean-Luc: As TALES, I never played live. Today, I'm not interested in concert because I prefer to develop my music in studio, as a producer. But for the future, I have projects for some shows, some very visual shows with lights, lasers, big video screens and with good surround-sounds. I'm searching actually for a sponsorship for these shows.

HD: Are there any concept pieces you are working on for future recordings?

Jean-Luc: The TALES's Project is based on trilogies. "Marco Polo" is the 2nd volume of the "Asian Trilogy"; the 1st album was "Pictures of Asia". Today, the 2nd volume of the "Merlin trilogy" (the 1st was "Stonehenge for Eternity") is recorded and mixed. The mastering stage would be in December or January. The title is "E.L.F." for " Echoes from the Last Fairyland", an album full of magical dreams... The release would be in mid-2000. And I work actually for the 2nd volume of the "Interstellar Trilogy". I'm really busy with TALES.

HD: What has the reaction been towards Tales here in the U.S.?

Jean-Luc: Very good indeed since my first TALES's album at the end of 1996 (Pictures of Asia). I have good support in radio and music-papers. But like many independant artist, it's very hard to find a good distribution deal. I am hopeful for the next years because TALES is growing year after year.

HD: Have you ever wanted or thought about doing soundtrack work for films?

Jean-Luc: I 've written some documentary-films's soundtracks for the French television. The music of "Pictures of Asia" was used for beautiful documentary-films on Tibet and Cashmere. I'm not interested in writing music for a big film because you have too much pressure upon your head and you're not really free for expanding your ideas. You write beautiful themes during the night, and in the morning you meet a guy with a big cigar at the production room, and the guy puts your score in the garbage can. A great frustration indeed. I'm only interested in writing music for documentary-film where you're free to expand your themes and your ideas.

HD: If you could describe your music to someone who has never heard it before, what would you say?

Jean-Luc: In the Electronic Music's area, TALES is labelled "Space" and "Ambient". I define my music as "atmospheric electronic tales". But I can describe it too as "an imaginary music for an imaginary film"...

HD: If there was one thing you'd like to leave a listener with after hearing your music, what would it be?

Jean-Luc: A piece of dream...

HD: Where can those of us in the U.S. purchase the Tales CD's?

Jean-Luc: TALES is distributed in North America by "Backroads Music" (418 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera, CA 94925, and by "Eurock" (Box 13718, Portland, OR 97213,

HD: What was your favorite album of 1999 and why?

Jean-Luc: This year, I've bought some records for my daughter (Suede, Savage Garden, Cher) and only one CD for me (Vangelis - "El Greco"), but it's not my favorite album. The TALES's project takes many hours in my life and I have not much time for listening to other music. But when I listen to music, it's more often older albums (mainly Pink Floyd, ELP, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Vangelis...). In the 90's, I often listen to Depeche Mode (Ultra), Billy Idol (Cyberpunk), Babylon Zoo ("The boy with the x-ray eyes") and Faith No More (The Real Thing). I'm really eclectic for listening music.

HD: What do you plan to do this New Years Eve?

Jean-Luc: Nothing special. At home with my Family and some good Friends. I'm not concerned by all this circus around the year 2000. It's only a date on a cultural calendar. My reference calendars are lost in the past... I think about the more older written document we know, a lunar calendar engraved on a bone, 40 000 years ago... Or we can start at Stonehenge, 4800 years ago...


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