Jimmy Edgar Talks Magick, Studio Wizardry, and Hypnotic Power of EDM
From the start, his sound was so freethinking that the Detroit native was only 18 and producing his first tracks when he got tapped by the UK's legendary Warp Records -- a bastion of genre-defying sonic outlaws like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Boards of Canada.
But that's not to say Edgar's sound is inaccessibly cerebral, dance floor-clearing "IDM." Take Majenta, his latest long player on Hotflush -- a slab of deep sexed-up future funk, arousing mind, body and soul in equal measures.
Ahead of a headlining gig on Friday at the Electric Pickle with SAFE Miami, we here at Crossfade caught up with Jimmy Edgar to talk about the last album, his occult interests, and EDM as a form of meditation.
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Crossfade: How did growing up in Detroit inform your work as a musician? Did you have any mentors or immediate sources of influence when you first started producing music there?
Jimmy Edgar: My mother was really into dance music since she was a dancer-slash-hairstylist. My parents had me when they were superyoung. My father was apparently working for The Clash and Kraftwerk, supposedly when they would come to Detroit. He was doing sound at a club called Trax for hair metal bands.
I didn't really have mentors except the guys at Record Time, who would suggest records or play me new stuff. Luckily, I lived right down the street, so I was there all the time. It was often I'd see Jay D, Derrick [May], and some other local DJs. Carlos Soufront, Godfather, and Mike Servito were big influences on me -- local DJs.
You were only 18 when you got signed to Warp Records -- a label that put you in the company of groundbreaking artists like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. Did you feel any pressure to live up to their reputations? How did your time with Warp impact the development of your sound?
It was weird when I got signed to them. I had never sent anything, but yet I wasn't surprised when they got at me. I just had that youthful confidence in myself, even though I had no idea what my music sounded like to other people, especially overseas. I was grateful and excited, but also had focus on what I wanted to do. We still have a fine relationship.
How did you approach the creative process on your last album Majenta? How did it differ from past production projects?
Majenta was finishing the bits after XXX that I liked. I was way more patient and willing to make the demos into good songs, which was different. Because before, I wouldn't give a demo of mine the time of day unless I had finished it all in a day or so. I felt that inspiration had changed and my idea of inspiration was different.
I also got into modular synths quite heavily. That changed everything: how I worked with sounds, how I made sounds, and what I thought was possible. I had used the ideas of digital manipulation with analog patching to create the sounds I always wanted. It made me realize how different harmonics and musicality can be with analog components. But not to say that digital is lesser, it's just different. I use both approaches just as much.