ABOUT | ZE RECORDS

INDEPENDENT SINCE 1978

Michael Zilkha

Michael Zilkha • 1979 Blank Tapes Studios*

Michael Esteban

Michel Esteban • 1979 Blank Tapes Studios*

 

 

INTERVIEWS

STRANGE DAYS MAGAZINE : JAPAN 2009 THE DAILY TELEGRAPH : UK 2009 INK 19 MAGAZINE : UK 2009 FLUX MAGAZINE : UK 2009 VMAN MAGAZINE : UK 2009

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH : UK 2009
INTERVIEW WITH MICHEL ESTEBAN

1 * What was the reaction of the rock and punk community to ZE’s embracing disco and funk? Can you give an example of any extreme reactions?

I dont know what you mean by « the rock & punk community » ? I have never give to much attention to criticisms anyway from whatever they came from. All my interest was to please myself and the artists we were working with. I remember of that campain « Disco Sucks » in the states, but at the end of the 70’s you could find more fun and innovation in disco than in rock anyway. And to me there is not such things as categories in music. Music is music, I used to say that there is good and bad music, now that I am older and maybe a little bit wiser ; there is music I like and music I dont.

2 * What activities are happening with ZE today?

I remastered all the back catalogue tapes and try to re released as much albums possible in CD and now in all digital formats. I produced a couple of years ago the debut album of a new artist Michael Dracula. Now I am reorganising everything here is Brasil, thinking a lot about what could be an indie label in the digital age, and as soon we will find a new economic model, I will go back to production. I mainly working on a global Art Institute Project in Salvador de Bahia and music will have a big part of it.

3* How did the original version of ZE come to an end?

I personaly left ZE and New York in 1981 to produce music in Africa and Brasil. Michael Zilkha lost interest around 1989, stoped producing music and move to Texas to go into the oil business with his father !

4* What were your feelings when ‘punk-funk’ became a music media buzzword again about three years ago?

The history of music is a perpetual restarting !

5* How essential was Bob Blank to the ZE story?

Bob was a great ingeneer/producer and the owner of a great studio where we recorded almost all our albums in 1979 and 1980. I was very openmined could work for days without sleeping, he was our Phil Spector. Lots of respect.

6* What was Chris Blackwell’s attitude to ZE?

I had lots of respect also for Chris cause Island then was one of the best indie label of all time. He gave us the opportuny to have a worldwide distribution. He was also a friend of my girld friend then, Ana Wintour, so he invite us two weeks in his house in Nassau to talk about the licence deal. One could have worse working relationships !!

7 * What role did women and feminine attitude play in ZE’s story?

The same as in real life… for the best as for the worst ;-)

8 * How much work did you put into making sire the label’s visual image was just right?

As an art student I was always very interesting in graphic art, and NY is a very graphic city so it came naturaly. I am very pround this image aged very well, I guess I was doing something right back then. ;-)

9 * What was you relationship like with Michael Zilkha in the prime of the label and what is it like now?

I met Michael in 1978 through John Cale with who I was working on the launch of his own label Spy Records. Michael wanted to invest his Dady’s money in music business. He was a very enthousiast young guy with very good taste but not so much experience in music. In fact we left John to create our own label. We were from very different backgrounds him English raised in London from an Iraquee family, me French from Paris, both foreigners living in New York and in love with that city. When Michael left NY for Dallas and get into the oil business, we did not speak for years. Then in 2003 when I wanted to released all these albums to give an opprtunies to a new generation to discover the work whe did almost 30 years ago, I called him and we met in NY, he was then in the wind energy business, still lives in Texas, he helped me a lot to relaunch ZE but did not want to go back in the music business.

10 * Can you give a brief run-down of what you’ve been up to since the end of ZE in the ‘80s until the present.

During the 80’s I did not stop producing music, went to Africa and Brasil to record, traveled the world. I recorded Chet Baker and Lizzy Mercier Descloux in Rio in 1985 ; fallen in love with that country. Recorded French pop artists, in France made my firts gold albums with French Pop artist LIO. Then during the 90 I went into a « zen period » and spend 10 years in the south of France learning about religions and philosophy. I moved to Brasil now where I am working on that Art Institute project and with social ONG.