Listen: Edward Snowden collaborates on music track with Jean-Michel Jarre

Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, shown in Hong Kong in 2013.
(Glenn Greenwald,Laura Poitras / AP)

Don’t worry: Edward Snowden hasn’t embarked on a singing career. But the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked state secrets has collaborated with a prominent electronic music pioneer on a new track that takes digital privacy as its main subject.

Though Snowden is still trapped in diplomatic limbo, somewhere in Russia, he teamed up with French composer Jean-Michel Jarre to create the piece, which has been posted on YouTube.

“Exit” is a six-minute track from Jarre’s new album “Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise,” scheduled to be released in May. 

The single features a rush of techno beats textured with electronic beeps and chirps, in quintessential Jarre fashion. Snowden is heard approximately halfway through the single, his speaking voice sampled as he talks about digital privacy.


“Technology can actually increase privacy,” Snowden says on the track. “The question is: Why are our private details that are transmitted online, why are your 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?”

Snowden continues: “I think 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.”

He concludes by saying, “Rights aren’t just individual -- they’re collective... If you don’t stand up for it, then who will?”


In a video interview posted on Rolling Stone’s site, Snowden said that he has always appreciated electronic music -- especially the kind featured in early video games -- and that he believes “music is the thing that can humanize even the most abstract moment.”

In 2013, the former NSA contractor leaked documents revealing a vast government network of digital surveillance on private citizens, in collaboration with telecommunications companies.

Jarre explained in the video that modern civilization has an “ambiguous” relationship with digital technology. While we are all comfortable having phones in our pockets, “we feel that the world is spying on us,” he said.

“Electronica 2" features 18 tracks, collaborating with the Pet Shop Boys, Hans Zimmer, Cyndi Lauper and others.

Having realized his first mainstream success with his 1976 album “Oxygène,” Jarre has gone on to release numerous albums in various genres and continues to tour internationally with shows noted for their use of lasers and lighting effects. 

Jarre is the son of the late Oscar-winning composer Maurice Jarre and was once married to actress Charlotte Rampling.

He wrote on his official Twitter account on Friday that Snowden’s initiative “should be an inspiration for others and for future generations.”