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Jimmy Edgar

Jimmy Edgar's music is like the aural equivalent of those mid-'80s "sexy robot" airbrushed pop art posters by Hajime Sorayama -- the sound of a sleek digital future when machines have the same erotic desires as human beings. A postmodern polymath who also built a successful career as a graphic artist, photographer, and fashion designer, Edgar started out releasing abstract minimal techno before signing with Warp and establishing his signature blend of glitch-hop, electro-funk, futuristic R&B, and raw sexuality on releases like 2006's Color Strip. Subsequent releases under his own name continued in this vein, including 2010 full-length XXX, while numerous records under pseudonyms explored various styles of electro, techno, and house. Much of the material issued through his Ultramajic label focused on club material, while his collaboration with Travis Stewart (Machinedrum), JETS, pursued a vivid fusion of trap, R&B, and neon electronics on releases like 2019's Zoospa. Subsequent solo albums Cheetah Bend (2021) and Liquids Heaven (2022) similarly explored a fusion of hip-hop, R&B, and deconstructed club music. Jimmy Edgar was born on August 10, 1983, in Detroit and manifested a love for music at an early age, learning to play saxophone and drums, gigging in local bands, and experimenting with making electronic music. His elder brother was a music promoter, and at the tender age of 15 he found himself DJing alongside techno legends Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May. His first track was released by the respected German label Poker Flat in 2002, when he was just 19 years old. The same year, after hearing just that one track, the Florida label Merck signed him and put out his debut album, My Mines I, which was attributed to his "dual alter ego," Kristuit Salu vs. Morris Nightingale. The next year, the Dutch label released his second album, %20, this time under the alias Michaux. These two works, which were fairly experimental and can be classified with the glitch or clicks + cuts genre that was prevalent at the time, received favorable reviews and attracted the attention of powerhouse electronica label Warp, which signed him to a worldwide deal. His debut release for the label, in 2004, was the four-track Access Rhythm EP, which had more of a hip-hop sound and featured, in a nod to his former alter ego, the "Morris Nightingale Theme." Later the same year, he followed up with the Bounce Make Model mini-album, which first crystallized the erotic electro-funk sound for which he would become well known. Edgar spent the next two years working on his debut Warp full-length. The result was Color Strip, a breathtakingly original album on which Edgar attempted to "capture the essence of Detroit." Inspired by sex and drugs, made using a selection of software custom-built by Edgar himself, and recorded to analog tape, it had a sleazy urban feel that combined techno, electro, R&B, glitch, and hip-hop influences and was an immediate success, invoking a slew of critical acclaim. In the four-year gap following the release of Color Strip, Edgar released low-key records under several aliases including Black Affair, Her Bad Habit, and X District, and was rumored to be part of the mysterious electro outfits Plus Device and Creepy Autograph. In 2008, he moved from Detroit to New York City, which had an influence on the music he was to start making next. When his follow-up album, XXX, was allegedly rejected by Warp, he signed with the German label K7, which released it in July 2010. While in a similar vein to Color Strip, it had a somewhat more straightforward and "live" sound, with Edgar playing bass guitar on a number of tracks and collaborating with guest vocalists such as Azealia Banks, before her career took off. Edgar continued issuing singles on labels like Nonplus and Semantica before releasing his full-length Majenta on U.K. bass label Hotflush in 2012. He founded the duo JETS (sometimes spelled J-E-T-S) with former Merck labelmate Travis Stewart (Machinedrum) that year, debuting with a self-titled EP on Leisure System. Edgar and Derrick May each compiled a disc of the double-CD We Love... Detroit, which was released in early 2013. That year, while based in Berlin, Edgar and designer Pilar Zeta formed the Ultramajic label, which launched with Edgar's Hot Inside EP. This was followed by a split EP from Aden (Travis Stewart) and Creepy Autograph, and Edgar's Mercurio EP. Saline, including a collaboration with the late DJ Rashad, appeared in 2014. Edgar's first mix CD, Fabriclive 79, came out in 2015. Several more EPs and singles were released throughout the remainder of the decade, including a 2015 collaboration with Truncate, 2016's Dreamz Come True, and 2018's "Burn So Deep" with Dawn Richard. The singer also appeared on JETS' 2019 full-length Zoospa, which additionally featured Tkay Maidza, Mykki Blanco, and regular collaborator Rochelle Jordan. In 2020, Edgar released single collaborations with Hudson Mohawke ("BENT"), SOPHIE ("METAL"), and Danny Brown ("GET UP"), and produced Atlanta rapper B La B's mixtape Who I Be. All of these guests appeared on his 2021 full-length Cheetah Bend, which additionally featured Matt Ox and Millie Go Lightly. 2022's Liquids Heaven similarly fused trap, electro, and hyperpop with guests including Trinidad James, ZelooperZ, and 645AR.
© John D. Buchanan & Paul Simpson /TiVo


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