The Huffington Post Interview
A-Sides with Jon Chattman: Enjoy the “Sadeness” - Michael Cretu and ENIGMA Return
Film sequels aren’t nearly as good as the originals. It’s just a fact. Sure, in those rare cases - Terminator and The Godfather - some exceed their predecessors, but it’s few and far between. Just ask Arthur 2: On the Rocks. Anyway, follow-ups to songs are rare, but when they occur, the same can be said though I love Metallica’s “Unforgiven” trilogy. Enter Michael Cretu of the multiplatinum selling German project Enigma who has done something pretty ballsy: he’s given us a sequel to the mega hit “Sadeness,” which hit Top 40 and dance charts when it came out some 25 years ago. I remember when I first heard this song. Most will. It was like something we’d never heard before - part medieval, part new age, part WTF, but all amazing. It probably helped usher in the EDM movement.
Enigma has had more hit singles and albums, but this track defined them as a band. Now, here we are with “Sadeness (Part II)” off the band’s long-awaited eighth studio album "The Fall of a Rebel Angel" and the song, which features Anggun, is another triumph. I caught up with Cretu and asked him about the sequel, the album, and collaborating with other artists. Read it below! “Sade, dis-moi.”
What made you decide to release a sequel to “Sadeness?” Did the song originate as something else?
No, I wanted to create a sequel on purpose. I felt it was time to complete a circle that started 25 years or seven albums ago. With “In nomine Christi, Amen.” in “Sadeness (Part I)” I used the most popular vocal theme in church music. With “Sadeness (Part II),” I tried to find a similar, yet different sound signal that is equally associated with religion. That’s why I went with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor - one of the most popular church organ themes. And, as a person graduated in classical music, it definitely is one of my most favorite compositions of all time.
Where did you draw inspiration for the album title?
I am reading a lot. And a couple of years ago I stumbled upon a motif in Christian eschatology, which is about the “fall of the rebel angels”. More than the religious interpretation I found this an interesting parable of our times. Probably each of us had the feeling to “fall out of life” at one point. We lost track for whatever reason. We feel externally controlled or only live for the moment. And at some point, we recognize how little this has to do with what we wanted for life and what we dreamed about. This was so inspiring to me that we decided to write a story alongside the music - the allegory of “The Fall Of A Rebel Angel”. So, I think it would be fair to say that I did not draw inspiration for the album title. The album title drew inspiration for me writing this music.
You have an eclectic mix of collaborators on this album - can you share a bit of background on how they got on the record?
I have a list of singers that I like. And this list is independent of genres, sex and age. They have to support the music, not the other way round. In fact, I treat vocals on Enigma as one “instrument” amongst others. With the new album, I was following a story. And so had the vocalists. Everyone I collaborated with had to perform a certain task. For “Sadeness (Part II),” in example, I needed a female voice that is sensual and energetic at the same time, spoken and sung, and that is fluent in French as well as English. All this was Anggun. For “Amen,” however, I wanted an angelic, atmospheric kind of voice that stands for hope and confidence. This, for me, was Aquilo.
Enigma really paved the way for EDM artists. What do you make of the electronica scene right now?
I appreciate that the EDM scene is of such high importance today. Twenty years ago, you wouldn’t be able to hear EDM on mainstream radio. However, as always in a genre, there is good and bad music. I like music that is well produced. And I guess this is kind of an “occupational disease.”
Wolfgang Beltracchi crafted the album’s artwork as well as 12 original paintings for each song. How’d that come about?
I saw Wolfgang in a talk show on TV for the first time. He was such a character - brilliant, intelligent and super talented. I immediately said: He has to paint the artwork for my new record. The fact that his main theme was angels as well is something we only discovered later. This was also the moment when I asked him to illustrate the entire story, one painting for each song. The result is something that I’d call an art project, unique in music history.
You’re based in Ibiza. Have you ever taken a pill with Michael Posner to make Avicii think you guys were cool?
Cool is transitory. My music is made for eternity.
Lastly, can you offer some words of wisdom for my two-year-son?
Have dreams. Don’t lose them when you get older. And get your “proud dad” to support you.
By Jon Chattman