“I get bored really easily – that's what it comes down to,” says future-funk superstar, photographer and artist extraordinaire Jimmy Edgar as muses with a self-deprecating laugh, when asked about his remarkable work ethic. The Detroit native, now based, depending on the day, in Berlin, New York or his hometown, is a singular entity – the kind of guy who encapsulates what it really means to be an artist. Renowned for a creative spirit 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 release of his third full-length LP for bass-oriented label-de-jour Hotflush, Majenta, the reinvention of his live show, and a slew of groundbreaking collaborative works.
With a background that extends back to 2004, Edgar’s releases spanning a remarkable array of labels: Merck, the canonical Warp Records, and most recently, Paul Rose (Scuba)’s Hotflush. Despite the impressive CV, he sounds remarkably self-deprecating discussing his history being drawn in by dance music’s most respectable. “I guess it’s just mutual friends, really,” he says, self-deprecatingly. “With Hotflush, I ended up meeting Paul one day through Travis, 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. I knew a bit about Scuba, but yeah. It was really great.”
Never one to stop and rest on past successes, Edgar’s drive to create is as natural as the other, um, 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 then resting at night, some people working at night and resting during the day; I like working all the time.”
Majenta is another bold and provocative work from the well-established artist – one created in what he acknowledges was a particularly short space of time, resulting in a particularly honest and revelatory body of work. “It was different,” he muses. “With every album there is a different process for me. Colour Strip, which was done almost ten years before, was made also really fast, but with a different recording process. I tend to like to finish everything in two weeks, but actually, with Majenta, all the tracks were started in a bigger period of time, but they were all finished within a short span of time so that's why you see this big path of transition throughout the album.” These themes that run through the record are very much indicative of where his head is at, these days, as he explains. “It's pretty much my transitional album,” he says. “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 that's changing. 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 Travis Stewart (Machinedrum), Ninja Tune darling Emika, and plenty of others, all to stunning result – a process he finds endlessly fruitful. “I think it's number one – working in solitude is terrible, to be honest,” he reveals. “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. Obviously, I like working in a situation with someone I get along with, but that's not always the case. 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 influence that colours his work as a musician and artist – synaesthesia and the strange relationship between the visual and the auditory, sexuality and supernatural themes touched on and synthesised into a record that sounds equal parts dark and dirty – yet a cerebral and thoroughly realized piece of work, too.
“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 of these places where the auditory and the visual intersect is in the revamped live show assembled in the wake of Majenta’s release, which he is bringing down to Australia for a string of club shows, soon. “It was really important for me to translate those sounds into colour and light, because that's essentially all that visuals are. Doing the LED performance was a really incredibly simple way of translating those rhythms, 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. So particular lights and colours and different directions will follow different sounds by the way that they are programmed within the attributes of the lights.”
Majenta’s second track might 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.
BY MIKI McLAY
Jimmy Edgar [USA] plays at The B.east on Thursday October 18.