During the past few months, I was in touch with musician Frans Lemaire from Belgium. The initial reason for contact was his past work on computer controlled music, later we discussed his current musical outings under the name of Micado. I asked Frans if I could create a page on him and his works. This is part I in which Frans introduces himself. In Part 2 we will discuss his early work with computer controlled music…and who knows there will be subsequent parts later on 🙂
French Lemaire. Born 6-6-60 in Veurne. I went to music school from my 9 years old, quickly played in churches the services and played regularly in the Sint Walburgakerk the Veurne and the Onze Lieve Vrouwen Ter Duinen church (beautiful modern blue church) in Koksijde in my childhood. I Studied in the college of Veurne, went to organ building and conservatory for 1 year and then studied Electronics Engineering in Ostend. Professionally I worked in the electronics and IT sector – and still am. Married to Viviane Dommelaere , daughter Iris and I live in Wortegem in Petegem (B) since 2001.
How and when did your love for music start?
My mom was a schoolteacher and musical. Quickly found love for Piano, Organ and Synthesizer. At the age of 15 I built my first electronic organ. I have always been scientifically inclined and I found music, science and mathematics all interesting. I played masses in Churches from a very young age, and in the family circles I often had to play Piano at parties.
And how did you get into electronic music?
Ever since I was 15 years old, very interested in electronics and everything that had to do with electronic music. A radio program Muziek uit de Kosmos, represented today by a Facebook group with the same name and the same “ listeners ” , increased my interest in music by Tangerine Dream , Vangelis, Klaus Schulze, Isao Tomita, Kraftwerk, and many who 70-80 were founders of electronic music. Ultimately, it is a logical evolution of youth interest in music and electronics.
For your thesis in 1983 you made music with your own music computer. Why this particularly difficult project?
I studied in Ostend for Electronics Engineering and there we had first knowledge of computer things and Informatics. Isao Tomita, a Japanese musician, first made music with computers and synthesizers. I wanted to try that too and went on a research and made a first electronic extension based on a simple computer at the time “ Acorn Atom ” to let synthesizers play music automatically via a programming language.
The Thesis project.
Can you tell me a little more about that first music computer? How long have you worked on it?
Worked on it for an entire academic year: own design, tinkered with own electronics, wrote own software … did everything myself
How were the reactions to this thesis, did you use it much afterwards?
Very many good reactions. In 1984 I even got a visit from the VRT for the youth program CHIPS. Young people were presented with special achievements. On my Youtube page (Frans Lemaire – MICADO) you can find a video recording of my performance (24 years old) on TV in 1984. I used the computer for another 1 to 2 years. After my graduation year, a technology came on the market that automated standard computers and interfaces for Electronic music: MIDI equipment. I replaced my own equipment with it. I have not kept my equipment from my thesis etc … and probably reused it for other things.
Nowadays you compose music under the pseudonym Micado. Can you tell me a little more about Micado.
Music had become my hobby and I worked as an engineer in a company where I met a friend who had also studied with me in Ostend. We were both interested in electronic music. Koen Vanderschaeve from Oudenaarde became a real music friend and we once gave performances in Kortrijk (Stasegem). At that time (1990 – 1995) the CD was an emerging media and we made music as a promo on CD for companies and people who had made beautiful trips. In order to realize this and to protect our music through SABAM, we decided to set up MICADO as a brand. In the 1990s, MICADO was born as a joint project of Koen Vanderschaeve and Frans Lemaire.
Who are you? What kind of music do you compose/play?
In 1992 I had a first real musical project : AFRICAN BEAT : I was invited to RWANDA for one month (just before the geocide ) by Romain Baertsoen who worked for ABOS and made documentaries about the local nature parks (eg AKAGERA). I was allowed to make the film music. The music consisted of using real sampled sounds from locally recorded people and animals. Together with Koen Vanderschaeve the music was mined and released. That was a door opener for many other projects. We made CDs for the companies such as KRAUTLER, DEVLONICS, Proctor&Gamble, and more.
We mainly made atmospheric thematic Electronic or Cosmic music. All the music can be found and downloaded on my webpage of Bandcamp, a medium for musicians. After 1998, the intense cooperation was diluted by : Marriage, Work, moving, etc … So from 2000 – 2017 my musical activities were limited to being Organist in churches and host of family parties. But I kept listening electronic synthesizer music intensely
In 2017 I came back in Electronic Music. And since then, activities have been back on track. Koen Vanderschaeve had discovered JAZZ in the meantime and built his own studio for Jazz recordings in Oudenaarde. Although Koen Vanderschaeve’s contribution is limited in the last issues, I decided to keep MICADO as the name. However, most of the new music since 2020 is all mine. So today I am the lead activist at MICADO. Of course Koen and I maintain good contacts.
Today I focus on New Age, Electronic Ambient music and through the Facebook groups I made many contacts with Belgian and Dutch musicians in the Electronic music world. I make more music via computer and combine this with synthesizer work. This makes it possible to make and write music with people at a distance. Very talented musicians are active in Belgium and the Netherlands. We maintain contacts via Facebook handles and after the Corona period, the life events that I try to follow rise again. There are also many internet radio activities where electronic music is discussed.
Are there any new releases planned?
In October this year my album “ SYNERGIA ” has been released. My first comeback album was “ The World needs Wise People ” , then “ Emotional Moments ” and then “ One Week in Heaven ” All my new music comes out purely digitally. No longer on CD. It is quite a chore for me to make CD productions, and most music lovers are happy if they can purchase and download the music over the internet.
The older generation of friends often push me to make CDs. That takes a lot of time and the numbers that we were able to sell in the past will be much lower today. Today, music is listened to and downloaded digitally.
I don’t make music for money or income. It’s a hobby. I have many plans to continue making synthesizer and computer music with friends and other musicians. Dreaming is always good: Making a film music project would still make me happy ” in my old age ” . My musical planning depends on my job and health. Three years to go before I retire. However, attention to family and friends and their social contacts and health must remain priority 1. So sometimes there is little time to be intensely involved with new electronic music.