Jimmy Edgar’s work has always possessed a certain charisma. Since experimenting with electronic music at the tender age of 10, the prodigious Berlin-via-Detroit producer has been developing his glossy, erotic machine funk and percussive workouts at raves since he was 15, famously signing to Warp Records at 18. He has honed his sweaty, shape-shifting style on a variety of labels and under a plethora of pseudonyms, and though he’s moved on from the distinct, 90s-referencing sound that marked early productions such as I Wanna Be Your STD, a sense of eccentricity continues to inform his music.
In 2013, Edgar and longtime associate Machinedrum began the Ultramajic label as a collaboration with creative partner Pilar Zeta, who worked on 2012’s Majenta. A visceral playground, the visual approach to Ultramajic was, as Edgar tells us, “Integral. It was the grand vision.” Indulging a fascination with the occult, esoteric philosophies and the Law Of One works – a series of transcripts claiming to be of extraterrestrial origin – Ultramajic’s carefully curated design takes inspiration from surrealism, symbolism, and the profane. Factor in Edgar’s extensive history of fashion photography, and you have an ideal candidate for our Aesthetic feature; one who understands and explores the relationship between music, image and artistic vision.
Can you describe the relationship between the art and music of Ultramagic?
For me, art meets music when you simply convince people that they are joined, otherwise nobody would ever think of it. We simply say ‘this is Ultramajic’ and people suspend their disbelief and say “yes, this looks very Ultramajic and fits with the music.” I find that fascinating because we simply made this up from nothing. I was inspired by a psychic who told us we were bringing the knowledge back from Atlantis. I did a a lot of research on the potential of this implication and decided I was really going to do it. And whether the psychic was telling the truth or not, we decided to adopt this mentality for ourselves anyway.
What are the direct inspirations for your artwork?
We are inspired by everything and anything. The Metaphysix covers are inspired by a sort of spiritual version of Kraftwerk. A lot of our work is influenced by Masonic, Egyptian and Rosicrucian ritual or philosophy. We feel that we can re-mould the meaning of symbols if we put it out in the open and include it with music. We are simply taking two ideas and bringing them together and opening up a new domain of knowing. Whether or not people get into the philosophy behind the artworks, I feel they’re fun to look at. This is done on purpose, the world of mystery and magic needed a fun remake.
What reaction do you want to provoke with your art?
Fun, mystic, magic. I like to create something that makes people think, ‘what is going on?’ So, we strive to tell a very interesting story through objects that we choose. For instance, the cover we did for Chambray’s Rub EP has an egg with the wrong shadow on it, this creates a confusion as to the light source. In the background, there is the same egg floating and broken which merges ascended life and descended death and puts it in a frame for the misaligned egg to consider. All the while, an African mannequin watches the scene unfold in a very nonjudgmental way.
Can you talk us through the idea behind last year’s trio of EPs, Hot Inside, Mercurio and Saline?
We wanted to launch the label with these three EPs because they related to the alchemical process. The idea is that the fourth EP will be the golden illumination from the three elements. Hot Inside – fire, Mercurio – water and Saline – earth. They would ideally come together and create something next level with the fourth. It was more of a mental idea for myself to prepare the ascen- sion of my music.
Talk us through your artistic process, is it close to the process you use for making music?
We generally start with a word or a phrase. Then we put on some music and go through my library, Google images, and find ideas we can merge together. We save lots of images and start making collages and from there we have an idea what software or medium we want to use. We choose 3D design, collage, photography, drawing and painting. We work and work until it’s perfect, changing small things and, if we get sick of it, changing the big things. We normally document our evolution to the final piece too, because it’s quite funny how it starts and ends!
Who are some of your ideal subjects for fashion photography?
There are so many frequencies of people that can make for a good photo, it’s hard to sum it up. I used to shoot a lot of fashion models in New York, but I found they were not always the best subjects. To be honest, I like shooting children the best because they are so carefree, in an interesting way. Otherwise, it’s always best to shoot confident people with interesting looks. Someone willing to move and change is good because it makes my job easier. I don’t shoot much anymore though, I like very contrived studio work and it’s a big deal to do this, so only once a year is fine for me. Otherwise, I shoot my friend on disposable cameras to capture any moments.
Looking forward, how do you plan to expand your visual identity?
We are beginning to broaden our inspirations and luckily Pilar and I both get really bored if we have done something already, and especially if other people start copying our vibe. But we love it, we’re flattered! Friends always send us artwork that seems to be inspired by us, and whether it is or not, we get really excited because now it’s our chance to improve and change what we do, ascending to the next level. It’s very challenging but we love it.
Photography: Tom Andrew
Art Direction: Mary Lees
Styling: Rebecca Maskell
Assisted: Florence Nettle Higgs
Props: Vicky Lees
Grooming: Karmila Forini
Interview: Anna Tehabsim
Jimmy Edgar’s FABRICLIVE.49 is out now via fabric