Jimmy Edgar’s street-smart and wise-beyond-his-years–is inspired by junky-infested sewers and industrious landscapes.
Street-smart and wise-beyond-his-years, inspired by junky-infested sewers and industrious landscapes, Jimmy Edgar–Warp’s latest signing—evolves a style described as “scratches galore and moody electronic pulses via some glorious Detroit Neon.”
When Jimmy Edgar was 17 he sent out a few demos to random labels and got signed instantly to Isophlux in NYC, following the release of a techno track called “We Like You” for Poker Flat in Germany. Not long after that he got signed to Merck records and they released his first full length album, My Mines I [merck009] by the “dual alter ego” Kristuit Salu vs. Morris Nightingale.
With his release on Merck Edgar gained some attention and played NYC, Vancouver, the infamous experimental Miami Infiltrate, a few cities in Japan, and random other shows all over the US.
More recently Edgar has played in Detroit with Nickraftis from Planet Mu, the Jan Jelinek/Thomas Fehlmann tour, and at the Detroit Electronic Festival, Movement 2003 — which, by the way, was his first performance under the name Jimmy Edgar from Warp Records.
He’s 20 now and soon he’s expected to be playing the annual Warp Autumn/Winter big party on Halloween at The Coronet theatre in London — and his much anticipated Warp release is expected to boom sometime in January of 2004.
What lead you to composing music?
I lead myself into music, it was pretty much a natural fixation.
What kind of music did you start making?
It was mostly experiments in sound.. acoustic space, pretty minimal stuff, and things like tape loops and tape manipulation.
How did you start messing around with electronica, experimental/idm/glitch? It wasn’t until I was about 10 years old that I got into electronically producing sounds, picked up some old analog pieces. From there I started performing at Detroit raves when I was 15… with like, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May. I was the only person in Detroit playing live crazy drum ‘n’ bass. I was known for doing ”booty bass” in Detroit with really dirty lyrics.
What inspires you and what are some of your influences?
In my early years I was jazz influenced on percussion and the drum set and played in experimental bands and made tape recordings. Most of my recordings were pitch-bended tape loops, cut edits, and noise tracks just from messing with the technical parts. I pretty much played whatever instrument I could get my hands on. Even picked up the saxophone for a few years.
During this time I was exposed to Detroit techno, 80s hip-hop/street beat, and things like New Wave. (By my mother, who I haven’t seen in 12 years. She disappeared randomly when I was little) I was pretty lucky to get exposed to these. I was influenced heavily by the early electronic movement–first/second generation… Kraftwerk of course. Also, synthetic funk music is a huge influence.
Yet music is not as much an influence as art is… I am really influenced by urban landscapes, city fashion, and pretty much anything minimal.
But also, I listen to a lot of everything. I don’t limit myself to anything. I have lots of passion for Bossa Nova, most anything Latin, pre-85 punk, 80s goth rock, and the earliest forms of experimental music like Stockhausen, Reich, Botrishe, and Mauriz.
Detroit is also a big influence. Imagine cityscapes and urban city life with my music. That’s very important to my art. I am mostly inspired by feeling drawn from cityscapes. Minimal art is very inspiring to me. Visual aesthetics as well.
Tell me about the technicalities involved in your music: your mathematical approach to music, about Max/Msp–which you are known for using–and what you think makes you unique or inventive.
I program my own sound environments using all kinds of different computers. I don’t stick to anything. I love the different results from every piece of software and hardware I have used. I am always trying to be creative and inventive when I code, or patch programs. If its not completely original I can’t usually work with it. Then it holds to barring to what I am all about.
Do you have any friends that you feel have helped your career or that are contemporaries, especially in the scene you move in the most in Detroit? Ritchie Hawtin, all the old Detroit pioneers, Juan Atkins, all the artful promoters, the growing small amount of scenesters.
Tell me a bit about the party scene you are involved with in Detroit and how you think you contribute to it. Parties get pretty outta hand in Detroit… IE: spankings, drunk live shows with shirts off, dirty loft after parties… it’s the Detroit style… pretty influencing and unique.
Tell me more about your visual art work.
I’ve gotten a bit of recognition for my latest installations and artwork …both digital and by hand. Most of my influence is surrounded by minimalism and strict color scheme… yet without limitation.
Some installations I have done with visual elements, like 8 LCD screens playing synchronized static, user friendly interaction with pitch bend to offset the synchronization, but yet eventually all syncing.
I read this incredible review about your latest release Michaux on Boomkat, could you tell me more about it? This was an extremely limited CD I did for AudioNL in the Netherlands, done all in Max/Msp with intentional software glitches. A last release before my Warp stuff.
Are you working on any mystery projects you can tell me about? With all my projects I have more, I have been talking to Ritchie Hawtin a lot about releasing my full-length of techno with him (Plus8/m_nus)… I will always have an intense passion for techno, and applying it to what I love about it is why I do it. I’m all about techno because I hate everyone else’s techno so much, I feel like I have a lot to offer to it. Most people’s techno lacks the urban feel, which I try to replicate.
What’s your musical ‘motto’?
I make music for myself, to listen to. I love music so much, but when I make it myself, its perfect to me.
Its pretty important to me to stick to what I love to hear. For instance, my music has much Detroit techno influence. But I think it goes beyond that as to feel like Detroit, literally. Urban feeling through music is amazing to me. I would really like to capture Detroit with my songs. It’s basically the feel that came out with my LP to come. My LP was heavily influenced by the city, and atmospheric feeling.
What can you say about your much anticipated Warp release? It’s a little different because some change in hardware/software.
I feel great because I can now make the music I always wanted to hear. It’s a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, but a whole lot of me. This music describes me, and my environment, like nothing ever will. A lot of this stuff from the LP sounds very funky, rhythmic, Detroit-sounding yet with the same aesthetics of my minimal music… Detroit was my biggest influence in this LP, I honestly couldn’t be any happier with it and I am excited to see where it takes me and what comes out next. A lot of the tools I used creating this LP were custom made by me, including instruments and software.
You seem to have been causing a bit of anticipation and intrigue. I’ve heard of people calling you a genius and a young prodigy, what do you think about that? I don’t care, I just do what I love. I don’t get shifted by anything but myself in most cases. Though I do have to quote Mitchell Akiyama by saying, “Your music sounds like what Aaliyah should have sounded like.” Haha.
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