is a one-man project. The man behind ENIGMA
is Mr. Michael Cretu
or Curly M.C.
vocals on: Sadeness, The Rivers of Belief,
Silent Warrior, Out from the Deep, Morphing thru Time, Beyond the
Invisible, Why!, The Child in Us, T.N.T. for the Brain, The Roundabout,
Prism of Life, Between Mind & Heart, Silent must be Heard.
on: Sadeness, Find Love, Callas Went Away, Mea Culpa, Carly's
Song, Second Chapter, The Eyes of Truth, Return to Innocence, I love
you... I'll kill you, Age of Loneliness, Beyond the Invisible, T.N.T.
for the Brain, Smell of Desire, Between Mind & Heart, Silence
must be Heard.
write some songs
to write some songs
||Andy Hard (Angel)
male vocal on Return to Innocence
with his electric guitar in I love you... I'll kill you and
The Child in Us
in The Cross of Changes
on: The Voice of Enigma, Hallelujah, The Dream of the Dolphin,
The Cross of Changes, Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi, Morphing Thru
Time, Third of its Kind, The Roundabout, Prism of Life, Odyssey of
on: The Gate, Push the Limits, Gravity of Love.
on: Gravity of Love, The Screen behind the Mirror, Silent must
on: Modern Crusaders, The Screen behind the Mirror. Camera
| Personal Information
|| Born on May 18, 1957, in Bucharest,
Romania; married Sandra Lauer (a singer), 1988.
|| Studied classical music at Lyzeum
No. 2 in Bucharest, 1965; studied music in Paris, France, 1968; attended
Academy of Music in Frankfurt, Germany, 1975-78, and earned a degree in
|| Producer, composer, and arranger.
As Michael Cretu, released first album, Legionare, Virgin, 1983; as Enigma,
released debut album, MCMXC a.D., Virgin/Charisma, 1990 (Europe), 1991 (U.S.).
|| Gold records for producing albums
by Michael Oldfield and Sandra in Europe; platinum album for MCMXC a.D.
in U.S., 1991; platinum record for single "Sadeness Part I," 1991; double-platinum
album for MCMXC a.D., 1993; platinum album for The CROSS Of Changes, 1994;
gold record for single "Return to Innocence," Virgin/Charisma, 1994; gold
and/or platinum awards for MCMXC a.D. in 25 countries; Echo Award for most
successful German production abroad, 1995, for The CROSS Of Changes.
|| Record company--Virgin Records,
338 North Foothill Rd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210; or 1790 Broadway, 20th
Floor, New York, NY 10019. Management--Nizzari Artist Management, 410 West
25th St., New York, NY 10001.
||Michael Cretu, the man who
is Enigma, declared his creative philosophy in a Virgin Records press release:
"Old rules and habits have to be rejected and dismissed so that something
new can be created." Even though Europeans were hip to Cretu's identity,
early U.S. press information billed Enigma as the creation of a German producer
who preferred to remain anonymous. "With Enigma," Cretu explained to Larry
Flick in Billboard, I have created a complete piece of music that I wanted
to let stand alone. There is a sense of mystery in the music that I wanted
to leave untouched by the perceptions and preconceived ideas that come with
the past history of a producer or a songwriter." He continued, "Contrary
to the usual record company philosophy, people are open-minded and starved
for something unique. This is music that is different from any other available
at the moment. I think people have responded to that."
||Born on May 18, 1957, in Bucharest,
Romania, Cretu pursued an early goal of becoming a concert pianist by studying
classical music. In 1965 he attended Lyzeum No. 2--a college for young and
gifted musical talents--with piano as his main subject, and he also studied
for five months in 1968 in Paris, France. From 1975 to 1978 he attended
the Academy of Music in Frankfurt, Germany, where he earned a degree in
music. Deserting his goal of classical music, he claimed, "I started writing
hits the day I sold my piano."
||In 1980 Cretu won his first
gold record for his production work. The artists with whom he has been associated
include Hubert Kah, Peter Cornelius, Moti Special, and Sylvie Vartan. Cretu
has also won gold record awards for producing albums by his wife, Euro-dance
chanteuse Sandra, and multi-instrumentalist-composer Michael Oldfield. Since
1985 Cretu has produced seven albums for Sandra, including her first international
hit single, "Maria Magdalena," which went to Number One in more than 30
countries. Cretu released his first solo album on Virgin, Legionare (which
means legionnaires), in 1983, but his solo efforts before taking the name
Enigma failed to earn U.S. distribution.
||Inspired by such groups as
the Art of Noise and Pink Floyd, Cretu assembled Enigma's debut album, MCMXC
a.D. (the roman numeral representation of 1990), on an AudioFrame system
at his home studio in Spain. MCMXC a.D. was released on December 3, 1990,
in Europe through Virgin Germany and on February 12, 1991, in the U.S. through
Virgin/Charisma. The LP eventually sold more than 12 million units worldwide,
and won gold and/or platinum awards in 25 countries. In the United States
MCMXC a.D. went platinum by the first week in May of 1991 and earned double-platinum
status by the fall of 1993
||Cretu told Alan di Perna of
Keyboard, "I conceived of the whole album as a single song. The words and
sounds are like flashlight beams. They don't show you everything. You have
to look at what's between the lines." A mixture of sixth-century Gregorian
chants, bewitching French whispers--provided by Cretu's wife, Sandra--and
hypnotic, ethereal music set to intoxicating dance rhythms, MCMXC a.D. is
definitely more a cathartic aural journey than a collection of individual
songs. The video import of MCMXC a.D. is a gorgeous swirl of images seamlessly
interpreting the entire album. Even so, "Sadeness Part I," a song marked
by its inclusion of Gregorian chant, was destined to become the album's
runaway single. "The great misconception of people who have only heard 'Sadeness'
is that the whole album is filled with chanting. This is a complete piece
of work with many different levels and sounds. 'Sadeness' is only one piece
of the puzzle," Cretu explained to Billboard's Flick.
||The French lyrics in "Sadeness
Part I" are actually a dark homage to the Marquis de Sade, an eighteenth-century
erotic novel writer from France from whose name the word sadism comes. In
analyzing this element of the debut Enigma album, Vince Aletti of the Village
Voice stated, "Cretu isn't celebrating the notorious Marquis ... but his
mere presence in this context is a provocation, surely a deliberate and
delicious one. Sade reserved his fiercest contempt and some of his most
exquisite literary tortures for the pious and the prim, so even if he remains
offstage here, the writer is a devilishly successful device. Cretu uses
him to introduce questions of virtue and vice, faith and sacrilege, love
||Cretu related to Keyboard's
di Perna, "I wanted to use things that there are questions about, that are
mysterious. You don't have to go too far to read all kinds of accusations
about the Catholic Church--scandals, inquisitions, and wars--and you wonder
how you can reconcile this with the idea that the Church is supposed to
stand for universal love. But at the same time, I've been told that the
Marquis de Sade was a very religious man, that he wrote what he wrote as
a revenge against certain pious people who were hypocrites. So again, there
are questions, mysteries."
||The Marquis was apparently
not the only one out for revenge. As Cretu revealed to Michael Azerrad of
Rolling Stone, "[MCMXC a.D.] was like revenge against everything I was hearing.
I didn't want to write songs, I wanted to write moods." When Azerrad drew
a comparison to the way pop icons Madonna and Prince explored sexuality,
Cretu replied, "What Madonna and Prince did is pure marketing--it's predicated
on causing scandal. It's not a sexual music that I did. It's a sensual music.
And there's a big difference."
||Some radio stations in Europe
with a large Catholic audience could not see that difference. They banned
"Sadeness Part I," considering it "pure blasphemy." Dutch national radio
network TROS actually received three bomb threats from listeners said to
be shocked by what they heard when the record was proclaimed single of the
week--prompting Cretu to issue a statement refuting rumors about satanic
material in the Gregorian passages and insisting he had no desire to offend
"any public religious beliefs." Himself an atheist, Cretu told Azerrad of
Rolling Stone, "The institution of the Church doesn't really fit with our
times. I believe in destiny, which is a much more powerful belief."
||In terms of record sales, Cretu's
beliefs were apparently embraced by many listeners. By January of 1991 "Sadeness
Part I" had reached Number One in seven European countries: Germany (where
it eventually became Germany's biggest-selling single ever), Belgium, the
Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Greece. The record
would ultimately attain the Number One position in 15 countries. In the
American market, "Sadeness Part I" broke into Billboard's Hot 100 in February
of 1991, and by April the record was in the Top Five after 11 weeks at Number
One on the combined European charts. Peaking at Number Two on the U.S. pop
charts, "Sadeness Part I" became a certified platinum single.
||Although Enigma was perhaps
singularly responsible for boosting interest in Gregorian chant music worldwide,
there was a price to pay--literally. In August of 1991 Munich-based choir
Kapelle Antiqua demanded a written apology in addition to financial compensation
when the choir, according to Ellie Weinert in Billboard, "recognized its
recordings of Gregorian choral works on Enigma tracks. The group sued for
damages, claiming Cretu had infringed upon its 'right of personality' by
distorting the records sampled on the 'Sadeness Part I' and 'Mea Culpa'
album tracks and singles." Cretu and Virgin Germany agreed to pay compensation
for samples used on MCMXC a.D. and settled out of court with Polydor and
BMG/Ariola, which represented the German choir, for an undisclosed sum.
In the end Virgin acquired authorization for the retrospective use of the
Polydor and BMG/Ariola masters.
||In 1993 film producer Robert
Evans asked Cretu to write the title song for the motion picture Sliver.
The result was "Carly's Song" and "Carly's Loneliness," both of which appeared
as "Age of Loneliness" on Enigma's next album, The CROSS Of Changes. Other
Enigma soundtrack credits include songs from MCMXC a.D. used in the films
Single White Female and Boxing Helena.
In May of 1991 Cretu told Larry Flick of Billboard, "It is my plan for Enigma
to be an outlet for music that boldly strays away from the norm of pop music.
I have several ideas for the next album that I think are fascinating. Part
of the fun of projects such as these is watching how all of the various
elements come together in the studio." Though it was released in Europe
in December of 1993, it was not until February 8, 1994, that Enigma's second
album, The CROSS Of Changes, was released in the United States. Cretu's
belief that "music is part of my soul--and this ultimately decides everything"
perhaps best explains the three years it took him to produce his second
||Michael Cretu signed a contract
for a further 5 albums after the release of Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!.