Jimmy Edgar is a renaissance man of talent, ideas, and style beyond his years. At 29, 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.
The tail end of his teen years was a whirlwind of creativity and milestones. In 2002, Germany’s Poker Flat released Edgar’s single “We Like You.” On the advice of then employee Travis “Machinedrum” Stewart, Merck released Edgar’s My Mines I under one of Edgar’s many personas, Kristuit Salu vs Morris Nightingale. My Mines I was hailed by XLR8R as “hip-hop beamed in to deep space.” Under the alias Michaux, Edgar dabbled deeper in musical alchemy, releasing 2003’s experimental IDM “virus as music” album, %20 on the Dutch label Referring to the HTML code for an empty space, its title emphasized the impact of silence in music. The resulting frequencies were so intense that the label technically couldn’t press it to vinyl, and it became their first and only CD release.
Edgar famously signed with influential Warp records at 18, and spent his early 20’s recording and touring, winning audiences over with his dynamic stage presence and customized visual show. A pivotal point came during his debut at Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival where security guards raved with the crowd. While at Warp, Edgar released 2004’s Access Rhythm, a 4-track EP of blunted, left-field beats, and 2005’s 6- track electro-sleaze EP Bounce Make Model. Jimmy’s influences and techniques reached a breakthrough synthesis on 2006’s LP Color Strip. Using a mix of custom- built gear, and analog and digital instruments, Edgar created a scene-stealing sound that fused Minneapolis funk, California Hip Hop, and Euro Electro. Color Strip became an instant favorite with fans and critics alike.
The next few years were marked by a move to New York, emotional turmoil, psychic reawakening, and more side projects including Her Bad Habit, Plus Device, and Creepy Autograph. As X District with Laura Clarke, Edgar released 2007’s “Color Correction”, a single that originated as a cryptic correspondence between them, revealing more of Edgar’s intense fascination with esoteric philosophy and the dark arts. In 2008 Jimmy teamed with The Beta Band’s Steve Mason for the Black Affair album “Please Pressure Point”, providing engineering, mixing, production, design, and videography work to the project.
Returning to his solo persona, parting ways with Warp, and relocating to Berlin, Edgar released his next album XXX on !K7 records in 2010. On XXX, Edgar refined his mutant electro-funk into its most radio-friendly form, and the singles “Hot, Raw, Sex” and “Turn You Inside Out” became essential dance cuts. Encouraged by his friendship with Machinedrum (part of Sepalcure with Braille), in 2012 Jimmy released the LP Majenta on Scuba’s Hotflush label.
Majenta’s blend of airbrushed 80s futurism and otherwordly sensuality, co-created with recent collaborator and kindred spirit Pilar Zeta, visually expresses Edgar’s obsession with spirituality, technology, and the occult. Moved by a transformative trip to Peru’s fabled Machu Picchu, the lifelong transcendence fetishist hopes to rekindle a similar passion for the supernatural in newer audiences.
As part of that mission, In 2013 Edgar and Machinedrum co-founded Ultramajic, a label and collective for their various projects. In addition to their work as DJ duo JETS, Stewart will provide A&R to the label; their first release will be Edgar’s 3-track EP Hot Inside out in June. A complimentary deck of magical cards created by Zeta and Edgar will be released shortly after the album. Edgar is touring independently and with JETS all summer.
At an age when many artists are just coming into their own, Edgar is more secure in his artistic vision than ever. Most importantly, after years of shape-shifting into others’ molds, Jimmy Edgar is now in full control.