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PYRO Music Interview—Jimmy Edgar

by spencertarring

Posted on April 24, 2019 at 07:27 AM

Jimmy Edgar is a renaissance man of talent, ideas, and style beyond his years. At 33, the Berlin-based Detroit native with a mischievous mystique has been a prolific artist and musician for two thirds of his enchanted life. Sonically, he’s fluent in a myriad of vernaculars, from “software as music” and glitchy underground Hip Hop to his signature glossy, erotically charged robot funk. Visually, he’s established himself as an in-demand director, photographer, and multimedia artist with an impressive roster of videos, exhibits, and magazine work to his credit. Born in August of 1983, Edgar was playing drums, keyboards, and saxophone, as well as experimenting with sound manipulation by the time he was an adolescent. To complement to his technical prowess, Edgar learned to play piano and “feel the music” in Detroit’s Baptist churches. By the time he was 15, with help from a promoter friend, Edgar was spinning alongside hometown legends Atkins, May, and Saunderson in local strip clubs and raves. His early exposure to music, technology, spirituality, and seduction informed Edgar’s creative impulses profoundly, and their confluence has become a recurrent motif in his work. 640 Q:You take inspiration from everywhere you go and in anything you do, did you absorb some of the new culture and perspectives whenever you first came to China? A:Yes i did, I’m interested in chinese cultures, especially the ancient and holistic style. my last e.p. Dreams Come True is a bit inspired by the zen motif and bringing this vibe into a futuristic setting. Q:Your history with music was initially rooted in your hometown of Detroit, from playing piano at the baptist church to quickly playing alongside Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins & Derrick May shortly thereafter – did that strong foundation help you achieve as much as you did so young? A:I’m sure it contributed but my ethic was instilled in my from my family and having to take care of myself and my sister at a young age. i actually didn’t know derrick or juan were famous until i started traveling outside of detroit, so i wasn’t able to appreciate their effect when i was integrated into the detroit scene at such a young age. however, i see it now, and theres many more to mention like carl craig and j dilla. early days were having out with ghostly international crew and seth troxler. Q: “Never stop being a student,” you’ve been quoted as saying multiple times; how do you choose what to learn or does it just come organically? And what are you focusing on presently? A:I like to learn new things constantly, anything that will help achieve my goals. right now i am researching geometry and architecture. whenever i see a weakness in my knowledge, i will obsessively study it so that i can bridge gaps in my creativity. some things I’ve studied in the past year are counterpoint, mozart songwriting, bach chorales, photorealistic painting, portrait photography, sacred geometry, 3D modeling, and much more. i love to learn and i love to teach. 640 Q:Detroit, Berlin and LA, 3 places you’ve resided at some point in your life. Would you agree that living in all 3 culturally strong cities enriched and diversified your overall music palette? If it did, then how so? A:Absolutely. its like the last question, i like to absorb new environments. i feel like living in berlin was where i really learned about dance music.. i didn’t get that from detroit. LA has allowed me to perfect my art but also bring more range and dynamics into my music. Q:Speaking of festivals, they sure have changed a lot with the EDM boom. As opposed to opening or closing for someone like kevin saunderson or maceo plex, you may share the stage with Porter Robinson at Mysteryland now days – was that a challenge to take over the decks at first from someone with such a different sound? A:Its not a challenge for me, i feel very adaptable as a DJ. I feel like i have something to offer so often times i will get booked at these festivals as a sort of “real DJ”, that is not to say the other artists are not genuine. it just means often people will expect something different from me, which i like to be this person. Q:As the EDM boom begins to die off and the techno and house stages take the more dominant role, do you think this will affect the underground scene negatively at all? A:I have no idea. i think electronic music these days is always opening a door to the underground, but its only those who choose to walk through who get to see the glory of artistry. its all perspective and everyone has their own. i particularly don’t like to participate in subcultures, as i am trying to create my own path. 640     Q: Do you prefer club or festival gigs? A:I like both. playing a big stage is such a great feeling, especially if you can somehow get them all into it, even when they don’t know you. its incredibly challenging. of course, club gigs are the best as the intimate space is much more genuine. you don’t have to try so hard in a club gig, as a matter of fact the more you try the more you fail. the club is a space to explore. festival is more pragmatic. Q:There are a lot of aspiring producers here in China that don’t have all the resources the rest of the world has like youtube and video tutorials, any advice you can share for this group? A:Where there is a will, there is a way. i’m 33 and YouTube was not around when I was younger. Although I use it constantly now, you can find your way as long as you want it. Q:Whats next for Jimmy Edgar, working on anything or have any goals by the end of the year? A:My best album yet.

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