[MUSIC: Interview] Jimmy Edgar
“I get bored really easily, that’s what it comes down to,” future-funk superstar, photographer and artist extraordinaire Jimmy Edgar muses, with a self-deprecating laugh. The Detroit native – now based, depending on the day, in Berlin, New York or his hometown – is a singular entity. Renowned for his creative spirit, and enamoured with all strands of media (fashion photography, graphic design, and his one true love, music), the cosmic wild child’s CV is gloriously extensive, with this year alone seeing the reinvention of his live show, the release of his third LP, Majenta, and a slew of groundbreaking collaborative works.
With a history in music that extends to 2004, Edgar’s releases span a remarkable array of labels: Merck, the canonical Warp Records and, most recently, Paul Rose (aka Scuba)’s bass-oriented Hotflush. “I guess it’s just mutual friends, really,” he says, self-deprecatingly. “With Hotflush, I ended up meeting Paul one day through Travis [Stewart, Machinedrum] and we were just talking about music and stuff. I offered to send him music and he was interested in it. It just kind of happened randomly. To be honest, I wasn’t really a fan of Hotflush – I didn’t know anything on it.”
Edgar’s drive to create comes as naturally as the other, umm, urges he tends to sing about on singles like ‘Sex Drive’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your STD’. “When I get home and get back into the studio, I end up working non-stop, ‘cause travelling keeps me from that. People ask me this all the time, and I never know what to say. It’s just the way that I live: I like working all the time. Some people like working during the day and then resting at night, some people like working at night and resting during the day. I like working all the time.”
Majenta is another bold and provocative work from the artist, and it was finished in what he acknowledges was a particularly short space of time, resulting in an exceptionally honest and revelatory recording. “With every album there’s a different process for me. Colour Strip, which was done almost ten years before, was also made really fast but with a different recording process. I tend to like to finish everything in two weeks – but with Majenta all the tracks were started [a while ago] but they were all finished quickly, so that’s why you see this big path of transition throughout the album.” The themes that run through the record are very much indicative of where his head is at these days. “It’s pretty much my transitional album,” he explains. “I think some of the overtly sexual stuff was kind of leftover from my album before, XXX , and so I feel like it’s just sort of a progression. I’ve already written about, and made a lot of art about, things like sexual tension. I’m on a path moving on from that kind of thing.”
This year has also seen him working closely alongside the legendary Machinedrum, Ninja Tune darling Emika, and plenty of others – a process he finds endlessly fruitful. “Working in solitude is terrible, to be honest,” Edgar admits. “I’ve pretty much done it my entire life, always working alone, always a one-man job. There’s something to be said for when you have to work with other people, exchanging ideas. Even when you’re working with people you don’t necessarily get along with; to make something really amazing happen out of those situations… Even with photography and film, those things are impossible to do alone. It’s like being in a band: you have to work with other people to make something really amazing happen, because you’re not always gonna do something incredible on your own. It’s just a fact.”
Edgar has previously spoken of the wide variety of influences that colour his work as a musician and artist, with themes of sexuality, supernature and, particularly, synaesthesia all being synthesised into Majenta. The end result is a cerebral and thoroughly realised piece of work that sounds equal parts dark and dirty. “Something I always tell people about myself is that I’m a visual person – I always think in a visual format,” he says. “It may be surprising to some people because I’m a musician, but I’ve always considered myself a visual artist. Even with music, through the way that I create and think about it.”
One place where the auditory and the visual intersect is in the revamped live set assembled in the wake of Majenta’s release, which Edgar is bringing down to Australia for a string of club shows. “It was really important for me to translate those sounds into colour and light,” he says. “The LED performance was really an incredibly simple way of translating those rhythms [into] light and colour. Technically, there are LED lights that are synchronised to the music and I run programs that are sort of like a drum machine but with lights, I guess.” Majenta’s second track may be titled ‘This One’s For The Children’, but we have a sneaking suspicion that Edgar’s upcoming tour is bound to be an adults-only affair – in the best kind of way.
With: Albatross (live), Charlie Chux, Frames, Astral DJs
Where: Secret inner-city warehouse
When: Friday October 19