Ahead of the release of the new We Love…Detroit compilation, compiled in collaboration with Juan Atkins, and his forthcoming Jets gig at XOYO, we caught up with Jimmy Edgar to chew the fat on art, music, teenage rebeliions and how Zapp can make it cool to be a crackhead….
Hi Jimmy, Hope the world is treating you well. Reading back through your biog and having experienced your music both on record and in a live setting it strikes me what an active and creative mind you have, I didn't realise you were also a professional photographer for starters!
Can you talk us through 5 of your favourite photographs you've taken. What makes them special to you?
i have to admit my best photography was not with models of the professional sort, which is essentially why i don't take as many photos as i used to… but with blooming relationships. the relationship between the subject and the photographer is such a special and unique situation because you generally have some sort of tension existing, whether its sexual, shyness, or anger. my favorite was always taking photos of people i had a crush on, but ultimately
didn't feel any timidness by it… these made for the most beautiful situations, the appreciation for someone with so much charisma. when i was taking photos of top models in NYC, my drive would go straight to anger and make them mad as possible… at that time i found it was the best way to get that shot i needed, but it bored me and i don't like working with peoples negativity's. when i could be alone with someone, stand over them closely and even touch them a bit, its a real
subtle cue for someone to get into the moment. its a bit hypnotic in a way too, for instance when you push into someone while touching them and say the word "beautiful", they subconsciously take it as what they are and thus feel themselves as that, beautiful.
What is more important to you, visual or dancefloor art?
its a shame that dancing is sort of taboo and hidden in the clubs because it deserves more art around it, dancing is an art form but people feel too ashamed doing it unless its all together in a dark place. the visual element is everything to me, what more can i say?
I'm stimulated by color and movement so much that i must suffice for it when i am making music to combat the lack of interest i have for sound. its all too often people have the same visual elements in their head from my music and i can't help but wonder why. sometimes i think there is some sort of psychic influence and communication. its not that far off.
If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like? Do you construct your music in the same way you construct your photographs?
my visual construct and idea work has changed so much that its not even fair to bring in the fact that i have taken photographs in the past, and traveling to dj and perform takes up a lot of my time these days.
i would construct my photographs from awkward situations, new relationships, and to teach myself… i suppose music is the same way sometimes. its like we are always on the search for new feelings, thats what keeps it fresh.
Do you dream in modular?
for how much i am obsessed with modular, surprisingly no.
What's your favourite synth?
thats a secret, its one of the few things I've kept my mouth shut about. 10 years ago it would've been the matrix 1000 that i got for 100$.
What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
i went through every style imaginable. wu tang, skinny puppy, death, cannibal corpse, master p, marilyn manson, bauhaus, tones on tail. i used to get flack for changing my style and liking too many different things.. they used to say "why can't you be real", but they were just too slow.
Describe your first rave you attended in Detroit when you were growing up. Looking at your DOB it must have been late 90's. What was the scene like in Detroit then?
very late 90s. i thought the style was so cool, the lights, my older friends and especially the music. one of the first raves i went to had 105.9 djs playing booty music, before it was called ghettotech everywhere else. i was focused in on it because it was a side room and they had it on 45 playing it at nearly 200 bpm so it kind of had this half time swing to it. this had a big impact on my music, the detroit parties with the radio djs were the best. Aux88 had a big influence on me,
i was seeing them from the start of my goings. not just a few months later i was playing these parties, but i do admit i really hated trance music so whenever that came around i was out, these vibes really killed it for me.
What did the Belleville 3 mean to you growing up and how did the split We Love… Detroit compilation with Derrick May come about?
they were just local guys, i didn't pay attention that much. though, derricks and juans early music was embedded in my head.. i still don't exactly know where from, i assume the radio or just going out and hearing it. i was more into drexciya and dooplereeffekt because that was the future sound of the time.
me and derrick have been trying to work together for years, he was always pushing me to work with juan because he says juan is my cosmic soul brother. we definitely have some things going on but it'll never happen, though this compilation was good enough and I'm happy with it.. it was a cool experience, it made me miss detroit a lot.
What gives you the right to be a multi-medium, multi-talented artist when the rest of us are striving to be good at just the one thing?! 🙂
ADHD. no really, i gave myself the right, which more of you should feel entitled to do. i'm a student always for life.
God, now I've seen you make films too! Can you pick us five of your favourite endings to a film.
rosemary's baby. absolutely one of my favorite movies, the cadence, every scene moving along, the colors, the performances… might even be one of the best films made and roman polanski did it, which makes it creepy as it should be.
stepford wives. another one thats amazing, i like how it starts out as if you're watching some lifetime for women movie and then it goes to hell in a hand basket.
dr strangelove/eyes wide shut/shining. i had to tie these three because kubrick is the best. eyes wide shut was one of my favorites because of the elite/occult vibe, and knowing how much was cut out after he died makes it so intriguing.
inland empire. it look me a while to get into this one, but lynch has always been one of my favorites.. all of his films are amazing except i don't really like dune, i can't even sit through it. anyways, one day i'll make my own edit of this to 90 minutes.
psycho. well, you asked about endings…. had you asked just films in general it would've been quite different list.
What does Berlin have that Detroit didn't? Have you found the city influencing your sound?
i am honestly sick to death of answering shit like this. in one word i would say, everything.. meaning nothing at the same time. they are two different places, completely different. i owe it to them both not to compare and contrast.
i wouldn't say i necessarily find the city of berlin influencing my sound. detroit still pops into my head in weird ways, for instance i imagine driving around at 8am on monday morning as everyone is ready to start their day, this feeling and visual will always linger in my mind… hearing something like a more futuristic version of fingers 'can you feel it', which is pretty much what i did with my music for years. its amazing how much detroit techno makes sense when you
experience living in detroit, not just growing up there, but just seeing it and being there.. it will always intrigue me because most kids in my generation were kept from detroit by our parents because of the crime. so, when we were old enough to discover it on our own, it became this amazing, dangerous thing. downtown wasn't really a place for anyone to live, we all lived around 8mile and 7 mile which becomes other cities like roseville, warren, eastpointe.. the east side, where i come from.
Your JETS musical style explores different territory – it's got quite a mad and frenetic sound. What inspired you to start the JETS project with Machinedrum ?
me and travis have been best mates forever so it took our friends saying we should do shit for us to wake up and do it. it was a project out of love for innovation and both of us feeling like we have something to prove, maybe even to each other, we both love each others music. travis is the one person I've given my thousands of unreleased crap to, and likewise i have tons of machinedrum stuff. we value each others opinion over many others and always consult each other for fun. from nyc to berlin its been awhile, and travis was basically the guy who discovered my music that led on this path, and i feel I've paved a few ways for him too so its all in love and creation.
Complete the sentence: I'm proper techno because…..
What’s your favourite place on earth?
i went to uritorco a month ago on a "metaphysical holiday" as my friend liked to refer to it. had a really beautiful time and was quite surreal all the paranormal things that happen there.
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
i am the person who gets them all together and convinces them to have a good time, interact.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
First and last record bought?
Thriller & some Dancemania edits.
Where to in 2013 for Jimmy Edgar?
the announcement is right around the corner. Ultramajic.
Finally, big question: Zapp or Zappa?
Zapp, cause i can't even name one Zappa song but I do love that cover photo with the pink lights in his hair, i remember my dad had it on cassette tape. anyways, zapp is color. the video for 'i can make you dance' almost makes you wanna be a crackhead to see what its like for a minute.
Anything else I should have asked you but haven't?
Como te sentis. Bien. y tu? Thnx a lot.