Jimmy Edgar Artist Interview: Building Rainbow-Colored Bridges Between Music, Aesthetics & Metaphysical Ideas
These sensational stories are fascinating, certainly, and for the newly familiarized, they offer helpful introductions into the life and motives of an artistic personality. Yet, for the initiated, such tales soon become a tad run-of-the-mill — and one naturally begins to wonder what else happens in the life and mind of Jimmy Edgar, beyond a preoccupation with sex.
These days, the distinction between Edgar’s mythology and his reality is absolutely unavoidable, especially to the musician himself. He’s well-aware of the image which has been solidified in the world for him, but has come to accept its multiple facets.
“[Early] in my career, when I started making music, I was really adamant about making music that sounded sexy, and cool, and I think the journalists just kind of took that crazy. All of a sudden, it seemed like I was kind of portrayed as some date rapist or something. And that was definitely kind of irritating, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Once someone mentions sex, people just go crazy,” Edgar laughs.
“But there’s also a cool side –” he continues, “– definitely the mystery of any artist is kind of what makes it interesting; so I think there’s pros and cons.”
Yet ultimately the problem with such generalizations is that they leave inadequate room or mystery; they make multi-dimensional beings a bit too one-dimensional. It is the small details — the things usually left undocumented by fly-by journalism — which stand out as fascinating about Jimmy Edgar. For starters, his fashion style seems to serve as a surprising representation of the meticulous man within. A fitted, silk-trimmed suit jacket sits finely on his skinny frame this evening, adorned at the neckline by a golden constellational weave of jewelry, jointed and segmented together tastefully with symbolic occultist imagery. The choices are both aesthetically-pleasing and potentially meaningful.
“Mercurio is the second of my personal series with alchemical attributes. Mercurio is the collaboration between water and air, which make steam and vapor — the meeting of higher reality and lower reality. The artwork is a metaphor for the gate between the two, but yet you see the same tiled floor in both? Why? Because there is duality still at this level; the next record is about transcending duality and ascending to a higher plane that only light exists at.” – Jimmy Edgar
Hot Inside EP
“Hot Inside is the fire release… we wanted to come out with a fire ritual. It’s the first alchemy series. The hand is a symbol of sorta grabbing everyone, but also a friendly way to offer a hand. It’s very inviting into our ritual. The video (below) goes through our ritualistic temple from which our ideas were imagined.” – Jimmy Edgar
Hot Inside Music Video
Many know that Edgar is often in charge of his own album artwork and dabbles in photography and design — but the degree to which visual art intertwines with his philosophies and music are a most underexplored fact about him. Take, for instance, a slew of album covers he designed for 2012’s Majenta and its related singles. They feature the symmetrical face of a mannequin-like woman who seems partially human and partially robotic, swathed in rich colors. What is not obvious upon first glance is that a complex underlying geometric framework, sketched out across time, lies beneath her makeup-adorned face.
“I think what I’m trying to channel is this sort of ’90s Pat Nagle vibe of really geometric faces that could apply to everybody…” Edgar says, explaining his fascination with the creations. “When I design the faces, I start with a circle, and then it goes into a cross, and I fit squares into it. So you’re getting more and more complicated with the shapes — but essentially, they’re all geometric and golden mean proportions. It’s my way of sort of trying to find perfection in humans, and in a two-dimensional form…”
Edgar also parallels these images with his many years of experience as a fashion photographer and videographer, adding, “I guess it was what I was trying to do in photography a lot, too, because a lot of my photography was really heavily retouched, and sort of mannequin-looking, and I was always trying to find the perfect shadow and things like that.”
Such philosophical ideas and mathematical inspirations are now threading their way into Edgar’s life more than ever, and one would be prudent to take note of the conceptual arc Jimmy Edgar’s music career is currently taking. While it begins with solid musical foundations of intricately-crafted, analog synth-driven club jams, it has grown more and more to incorporate art, music, and metaphysical ideas into one cohesive artistic whole.
(Above) An early example of Jimmy Edgar’s fashion photography
Ultramajically Honing In On A New Vibration
Metaphysix Series #1: Mentalism
VIEW ALBUM COVER
“Pilar and I were both working on artwork separately, and we were having a session and showing each other some new stuff. And we both started these sort of posters on the law of Mentalism — so basically, we just sort of combined it into this series. It was really weirdly synchronistic.” – Jimmy Edgar
This One’s For The Children Single
VIEW ALBUM COVER
“We sampled the artwork from Omni Magazine. We only later realized that it was a record cover, from Detroit and the year I was born 1983… which made it an interesting synchronicity.
Originally I had the idea of ‘a black child’ and a ‘rainbow.’ I don’t know where it came from because it sounded ridiculous! When I told Pilar (since I always put out all crazy ideas) she was interested but nothing really stuck. Then she found the Omni Magazine and on the cover it was this black child, a rainbow, and it said “China’s Psychic Children”. This was an absolutely stunning synchronicity and somehow I tapped into it psychically. I always follow these moments and we had the perfect cover template.
Then I re-airbrushed the main face while Pilar, next to me was designing the shapes, colors, and the type.” – Jimmy Edgar, via Tumblr
Edgar has been incorporating his beliefs into his music in notable ways since 2012’s Majenta — and perhaps even further back. He explains the album’s title by citing the “life breath” in Vedic and Hindu religion, saying, “Red is the slowest color we can see, [and] I want to concentrate on faster spectrum colors, so that what Majenta was all about. It’s too bad I can’t print in prana, or else I would.”
More recently, such artistic and spiritual cohesion can be found in Ultramajic, a philosophy-heavy record label started in 2013 by him and fellow designer and artist, Pilar Zeta. Like many in the current generation of New Age revivalists, Edgar and Zeta take interest in the works of many modern philosophers, but are dismayed by a lack of quality art and music associated with many of them.
“We read a lot of books on meditation — a lot of books on magic, numerology, astropsychology; quantum physics… and one thing that we always find is that the visuals are always really cheesy…” Edgar explains. “So we feel that we have this duty to create this space or domain of knowing that has a really interesting and modern visual side to these philosophies we find really interesting…”
He goes on to emphasize that many modern philosophers are writing “really relevant and amazing” books, yet fail to bring their materials to wider audiences because of their poor aesthetics.
“That’s basically our point,” he continues. “We’re creating a new vibration from it. We both really love art, and we both really love music, and we’re bringing together our interests. Easy as that, really.”
Nonetheless, Edgar is quick to stress that quality music and art still hold much more importance than philosophical ideas alone. Ultramajic’s first three releases have been Edgar’s Hot Inside EP, followed by Mentalism, the first of the label’s Metaphysix series. The series invites a selection of hand-picked artists to contribute their interpretations on a given topic, and for Mentalism, Aden and Creepy Autograph were invited to contribute four tracks, with sonically diverse results. Though it’s unclear whether the series will have seven, eleven, or twelve installments, some of its upcoming topics have been mapped out, with both Rhythm and Gender in the queue.
The label’s third release, Edgar’s Mercurio EP, is the second in his personal series on alchemical attributes. It is a well-known fact within metaphysically-minded circles that many schools of thought connect with one another through varying entry points, and these releases incorporate some of those connections.
“Mercurio is the collaboration between water and air, which make steam and vapor — the meeting of higher reality and lower reality,” Edgar explains, citing just one example of astrology’s symbolic connection to alchemy.
Ushering In A New Audio-Visual Approach
As Ultramajic develops behind the scenes, Edgar’s career as a globe-trotting DJ and performer grows in tandem — and it too is beginning to incorporate new ideas. He explains that during his 2012 Majenta tour, he and an assistant had to deal with the inconvenience of carrying three bags and an extensive lighting rig. He now prefers DJing over performing live, due to the fluidity and convenience DJing allows.
“I normally don’t even carry a bag when I go to the club, because I have all my music on a card, and I’m just like, ‘Why would I ever want to play live again?'” Edgar questions, both jokingly and a bit seriously.
In order to combat such hesitations, Edgar is currently working on upgrading his live show. While his Majenta tour included mid-sized panels of sonically-synced LED light rigs, his new visuals will feature motion videos, designed and executed by Edgar and a team of artists he trusts. They will then be displayed on the brightest LEDs that money can buy.
“[It is] all a self-contained system that’s going to be improvised,” he explains. “I’ve been really unhappy with all of the visual shows I’ve ever seen, and to have a system that you can synchronize video with is — it’s a big deal. The technology’s not quite there.”
“As of right now,” Edgar continues, “that’s the only way I’ll ever play live again. If it’s like, amazing, you know? Because otherwise, I’m not going to bother.”
Throughout our interview, Edgar unveils bit by bit the aesthetic and philosophical underpinnings of both his life and his musical projects. As we discuss everything from conspiracy theories and tarot to 3-D video rendering and twins who get separated from birth, I find myself repeatedly surprised by both how far out some of his ideas are and how serious he is when talking about some of them.
Later that evening, after dancing the night away to a set by Jimmy Edgar and JETS — Edgar’s amazing side project with Machinedrum — I stayed over at my friend’s house and became thoroughly amused to the degree by which Jimmy Edgar’s sex appeal had stirred her interest. While I had previously seen Edgar’s audiophile videos about his modular synth setup and his mind-blowing ability to play every instrument from the keys to the slap bass, my friend began excavating his online presence and found reality TV-style gold. Littered in with all of the serious, musically-minded videos were videos about expensive fashion finds and short webcam clips of him making goofy faces and sounds. All were in stark contrast to the Edgar I met previously that evening, and neither of them were the sex-focused Edgar that everyone seems to be obsessed with all of the time.
Just hours before dawn, I go to bed, realizing that I still have very little idea who Edgar is, exactly — and I find a curious amount of solace in that. The only sure sense I am left with is that he seems to be very particular about wants to accomplish, like a man on a mission full of very, very personal significances.