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Jimmy Edgar: From Detroit to Ibiza

Techno master talks about Ibiza’s growing love for the Detroit sound, running a label and his upcoming appearances.

If you're a fan of techno, are drawn to the fusion of funk elements with dance music or just like to keep current with the world of electronic music, the chances are you've heard of Jimmy Edgar. Born and raised in Detroit, Edgar originally cut his teeth on music by learning any instrument available to him including strings, drums, and even the saxophone! Edgar was drawn to electronic music from an early age and gained priceless experience by playing at raves in Detroit at no less than fifteen years old, so it's no wonder that fifteen years later his name is cited among those that helped to bring techno out of its constraints and expose the genre on an international level.

Jimmy signed his first record deal at sixteen and has since released three full length albums, countless EPs and remixes, has been signed to prolific labels K7 and Warp Records and in 2013 set up his own label ‘Ultramajic' with fellow producer Machinedrum, which has already gained notoriety not just for the distinctive sounds that the label has put out over the past year, but also for the stunning artwork that goes with every release.

This year sees Edgar return to Ibiza for the second time, playing two shows for Skream's party at We Love at Space, two shows for Créche at the brand new Gatecrasher and you can find him at Space's 25th anniversary gig. Ibiza Spotlight caught up with the techno-master to discuss his return to the Ibiza, his new label, and the rising interest in the Detroit techno sound on the white isle…

You played at We Love Space alongside Derrick May, DJ Hell, Claude Vonstroke and many others quite late into the season last year. How does it feel to be invited back to one of the island's most prolific clubs for their 25th Birthday Party?

"I am engulfed with excitement. I had a great time and I'm looking forward to coming back - it's unlike any other club experience and I can bring something unique to the floor."

What attracted you about playing for Skream's ‘Skreamizm' party above others this season?

"Olly [Skream] is a good friend of mine, we often see each other at festivals and random events, so it's a good fit to play his party. He's been big support of my new label, Ultramajic, so this is a good marriage of dance music for the night."

Your music can be influenced by anything around you, would you say this is true for you living in Detroit - a city well known for its dance music history?

"I think all creativity is based on subconscious expression at its foundation. Your environment is what's most important for stimulating your mind, and it's ultimately a distraction from yourself. I find it fascinating how much Detroit inspired me without really realising it. It wasn't until I started travelling that I saw Detroit as a sound. I can say that the radio was always really good when I was growing up, and that opened me up to all styles."

What other influences do you have in music, outside of Detroit?

"I am inspired by all music. My record collection is mostly funk, R&B, hip-hop, grime, jazz and techno, but I have all types of obscure styles like organ music, early electronic music and sound effects records. The turntable is just as much an instrument for me, same as a synthesizer. I grew up playing instruments so musicality is very important to me. Techno is a different idea for me; I see it as pure dance music and separate from song-based music. They essentially both do the same thing but in different ways."

Detroit techno and house is constantly gaining popularity in Ibiza, what would you say attracts the Balearic crowd to the Detroit sound?

"The hypnotic quality and the soul in it; good techno still has passion weaved into it. You can't get away with making dance music that sounds soulless, nobody will give a shit about it. I hear a lot of Detroit wanna-be music that doesn't work. It's more about the DJ than the individual tracks, because a good DJ can take the tools out of good tracks and meld them together into a cohesive set while feeling the crowd."

Last year you set up your own label ‘Ultramajic' with Machinedrum, since then ‘Ultramajic' has enjoyed multiple releases including your very own ‘Hot Inside' EP as the first release. What's in store for Ultramajic next?

"We are just about to announce our 10th release. The label is going very strong. We are very calculated how we do everything, the artwork is very precise, the words and visuals around it too. We are just really focused on this project so it's becoming its own entity. Our next release is Chambray “Rub”, a new artist from Berlin who makes really dope club tracks."

What were your motives behind creating your own label? Why did you feel the time was right to do your own thing?

"I just wanted to focus on one thing with some people, I was sick of label jumping. I wanted to create my own thing. I felt it was finally time after we took a trip to Machu Piccu, I just had the idea and finally felt like I could do it. Before, I felt I had no time but now I just see it more as focus concentration manifestation."

More and more artists are going it alone, but with some suggesting it to be a premature move in many cases, citing a lack in experience in the industry. Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing that there are so many independent record labels now?

"I think you should do it if you believe in yourself and your idea. If you are going to go about it half-assed and not really caring, then that's what everyone else will feel. We are really into this label, we're making the music pristine and calculating our artists with good ideas and visuals. It's about creating this crew and a completely new domain of knowing. People say Ultramajic is the first label in a long time that the artwork really fits the music, which is funny because we just decided to put them together, they really don't have much to do with each other. The music stands on its own and the artwork is part of the whole visual element to what we do, but they were necessarily created together."

Aside from your upcoming shows at We Love Space and Creche at Gatecrasher this season, what are your plans for the summer and the remainder of 2014?

"Heavy touring all year! And working on Ultramajic, of course."

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