French electronic composer Jean-Michel Jarre recruited NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to record an anti-surveillance message for electronic track “Exit,” on Jarre’s new LP, Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise. Snowden, currently exiled in Russia, filmed a cameo for the song’s video – a blur of spying satellites, Internet headlines and Jarre pacing around a bevy of computers and synthesizers.
“Technology can actually increase privacy,” Snowden says in his monologue. “The question is: Why are our private details that are transmitted online, why are private details that are stored on our personal devices, any different than the details and private records of our lives that are stored in our private journals? … Saying that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.”
“I’ve always appreciated electronic music,” Snowden said in a recent video interview. “The melodies that I remember with most fondness are actually from video games where they generate 8-bit music, and those kinds of chiptunes have really made a resurgence in modern musical culture today. And I think people like Jean-Michel are the ones who really popularized that and made that possible for us to appreciate it as more than just sounds, as more than just background, but as actual culture.”
Jarre told Rolling Stone that he initiated the unlikely collaboration by reaching out to a journalist and mutual acquaintance of Snowden’s. The former NSA analyst famously leaked classified documents detailing how the U.S. and other nations spy on their citizens – and that bold stance reminded the electronic/new-age pioneer of his mother, France Pejot, a crucial figure in the French Resistance during World War II.
“I thought a lot about what she told me when I was a kid, saying that when society is generically something that you can not accept, you have to stand up against it,” Jarre said. “Edward Snowden became a modern hero, not by saying ‘stop,’ but to be careful regarding the (ab)use of technology.”