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Interview: Electronic producer Jimmy Edgar on spirituality in art, Berlin & NYC, and music as vibration

 

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here’s a new gathering in town designed for dynamic dance-floor movement. Concocted from the mastermind of Megan Madara (Label Takeover) & local sorcerer of sound Ali Berger, Shake! at Good Life combines ingredients of techno & house from local talent with prominent global faces that are unlikely to have been previously seen or heard around these parts. Your first sip comes this Saturday, courtesy of the Detroit-originated & Berlin-influenced pulsations of Jimmy Edgar — a producer & visual artist operating the expressive Ultramajic label.

Upon even a glancing observation, one can portend that the streamlined illustrative aspects & sound of Edgar’s output suggests a desire to expand the consciousness of listeners & party-goers alike. In advance of his highly-anticipated Saturday night in Boston, we connected with the man to discuss his management style, metaphysical influences, & visualization of the future.

Georgette Bibber: This year you played on New Year’s Day at Output’s 24-hour party in the intimate yet lofty space with a fireplace that is Panther Room. Later in the summer, you moved to their rooftop for a sunset filled affair. The songs that characterized those two separate experiences for me were your remixes of Aden’s “Whip” & Frankie Knuckles’ “Baby Wants to Ride.” Can you recall the energy of those occasions & how these releases shaped your year?

 
 

Jimmy Edgar: Yes I remember those parties, they were really fun. Both of the tracks you mention were made for this type of an occasion so it’s nice to hear that they stood out. Thank you.

Could you discuss your move from Detroit to NYC to Berlin & the transition’s effect on your music & mindset?

Detroit isn’t unlike many other American cities, except it has more awareness about techno & electronic music. NYC was an interesting time because it was just after electroclash & it felt like NYC was becoming washed up. I wasn’t that connected too much in electronic music/techno as I was exploring R&B & hip-hop there. I wasn’t that into the club scene, even though I was still DJing — just not so much in NY. Berlin was sort of an effortless & gradual transition because I just followed where I was DJing the most. The way they view & respect the DJ was so fascinating to me that I had to stay, it was a whole new culture that I didn’t know existed.

 
 

You just returned from Panorama Bar in Berlin & tweeted that it was “probably the best DJ set I have ever felt” — do you think this is because of a change within yourself or among the crowd?

I mean ultimately it would be a change in myself, but I think there was such a nice energy there & not only that but I felt really nice because I played a lot of new tracks that I haven’t tested before so for me it was a real indication of my DJ abilities.

There was a shift from making very sexual music such as XXX to creating more club-focused music like your recent series of Ultramajic EPs? Has your approach changed?

Like I said I just got really inspired by dance culture, the way people attend clubs & parties in Europe. USA is definitely catching on thanks to Boiler Room, & more “communication” between Europe & USA. Of course this would have an impact on my music, I always wanted to direct people to do certain things when I DJ, like dance a certain way.

 
 

Not in an elitist fashion, in the sense that I wanted people to want to make their bodies in certain ways by the style of music I would play; not just body, but mind as well. This is why I make music & this is why my music always evolves. I get bored easily.

Your most recent release, Saline, is third in a series of element-themed releases. What was this inspiration behind this & how have those themes been reflected through the music?

My last 3 EPs are based on mental alchemy. A topic that deserves its own interview. Music is vibration & the elements have these same vibrational qualities. It’s things like this that I notice the more I meditate. I am really into meditation & finding deeper meaning & symbolism into things. All you have to do is be open to explore these worlds that otherwise are covered by daily distraction. It’s a tough discipline but worth it.

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Your aesthetic appears more cohesive than ever; any advice on how to maintain a constant direction?

I don’t know, something in me just clicked. It’s also a subject that deserves much more focus & attention because it has to do with how you find inspiration & keep it flowing & there are a lot of theories. I am just into making things amazing & not releasing anything that is 50% more & more. Whether or not they are amazing or not is not the question, but if I feel 100% about it then I am happy to put it out. So many artists don’t admit that they are putting out half cool shit, & I am guilty of it for sure, but I am just more aware of it & that’s the point… more awareness.

You talk a lot about spirituality — how does this influence your art?

It allows me to cut through all the bullshit & really get what I want without distraction, you get more in touch with yourself. So many techniques but one I like to use is imagining a door with a neon sign above it that says “ideas” or “creativity” or anything you want. You meditate on walking through the door & just having a look around, what do you see? You just entered the fourth/fifth (not agreed upon) dimensional realm of creativity & it’s yours to do whatever you please.

 
 

How do you & Pilar Zeta approach creating the visuals for Ultramajic? When did you start collaborating?

We started really collaborating with the start of Ultramajic two years ago, but we had done stuff together since we met. We go through so many processes, we love to learn new techniques so we do tons of research. When we are together we essentially are looking at artwork, researching philosophies, coming up with symbols & objects & then experimenting with those story ideas as artwork. It’s very hands on, sometimes we do stuff over Skype but we prefer to be in person.

What is your approach to managing a label — in terms of music, selecting artists, managing the business, planning releases, etc.?

Release only music that we feel is amazing, same with the artwork… this comes sorta easy for us because we are in control of both of those aspects. We release only people who we identify with, as in friends. We want only positive vibes. As far as the business, we have to stay organized & on schedule. We implemented a good system that keeps track of all this. Also, we work with a great press team! Get a bunch of like minded people focused & amazing things happen.

 
 

Do you have a visualization of what 2015 looks like for Ultramajic & for you as a creator?

Absolutely, that’s the only way to create it. It’s hard to talk about because it’s a bit early but we have some big things working out. Things that will involve more people getting together & taking part. We’re concentrating on video content & physical content. Otherwise we have a really dope release schedule & the next few artworks are really fresh!

JIMMY EDGAR + ALI BERGER + DEV/NULL :: Saturday, December 6 @ Good Life, 28 Kingston St., Boston :: 9:30 p.m., 21-plus, $10 before 11 p.m. and $15 after :: Facebook invite :: Do617 event page

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Jimmy Edgar GL