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Five Minutes with Jimmy Edgar at Decibel 2013

XLR8R had a very busy weekend in Seattle at the city's annual Decibel festival—those looking for a thorough rundown of the festivities are advised to check out our review—but amidst all the activity and quality music, we wanted to take the time to chat with a couple of our favorite artists. Jimmy Edgar is someone we've been following for a long time, and after seeing the Detroit-reared, Berlin-based artist do his thing at multiple festivals this year, we figured that we should take the opportunity to properly sit down with the man and discuss his various musical endeavors, including his JETS collaboration with Machinedrum and his recently launched Ultramajic imprint. The conversation was quick—after all, Edgar was tapped to play two sets in a single night at Decibel and didn't have much in the way of free time—but he still managed to shed some light on the origins of Ultramajic, share some his future plans for the label, and tell us how he balances his numerous projects.

XLR8R: These days you're dividing time between your own solo stuff and your work with JETS. Is it difficult to divvy up the creative process?
Jimmy Edgar: Basically, [Machinedrum (a.k.a. Travis Stewart) and I] fit JETS in whenever we can. Last year, we were traveling a lot together, and on our days off we would go into the studio if we had a chance. Travis and I are both approaching JETS like any time we get, we have to [work on] it. Travis is always like, "You know, we're not going to see each other for this long, we have to do it then." He's been really good at sort of prodding that situation.

Other than that, I can work on my own stuff on my own. When I'm at home, I definitely shut my phone off for creative time.

How do you feel like your own music is different from what you're doing with JETS?
I feel like it's completely different. I always think that when Travis and I are working together, we're sort of channeling each other's music and trying to subtly impress each other, in a way. We've always had this thing where we really like each other's music, but we're also kind of competitive. I think it creates this weird tension in the studio.

The funny part is that a lot of reviews that were first coming out for JETS were saying, "Jimmy did this and Travis did this," and normally they were completely opposite [from who actually made what]. It's really interesting how we were always trying to do each other's tricks on the tracks.

You've started your own label, Ultramajic. Where does the name come from?
Pilar [Zeta] and I were watching a film about Majestic 12. We really liked how the spelling had a "j" in it, and she mentioned how it was sort of like how I spelled Majenta. [Ultramajic] sort of formed from that.

I also think that the artwork that we were doing with the Majenta series on Hotflush was sort of the vibe that we're trying to channel a bit now with Ultramajic. So it's all kind of aligned.

Is Ultramajic just your label, or is it you and Machinedrum together? It seems unclear.
Yeah, it is unclear. On paper, it's just mine. [laughs] I'm financially backing it, so I guess you could say it's mine. But I definitely wanted Travis involved and he's been really involved in the A&R side of it. He's definitely been a good creative partner in the process.

Only a few months have passed since the label was first announced, but it seems like the releases are coming really quickly. Is that a pace you plan to keep up?
I'm hoping. Right now, we have several releases that are being finished. One is my collaboration with Sophie. Another is Danny Daze's record, which is just about to be finished. It's a bit weird to talk about it before [the records are released].

Ultramajic is definitely a priority for me because of my unhappiness in the music industry. [The idea is to combine] this really cool visual element with music that we want to release, whenever we want to release it. Working with other labels is just so much time and planning. Just being in control of [the process] feels better. Whether it does well or not, this is definitely something that we can afford to lose our asses on, which feels really good to say. Hopefully it does do well, but at this point, it doesn't really matter.

And you're going to be doing vinyl for all of the releases?
Yes. So far, all three releases have been full-color vinyl, and that's part of the reason why it's a bit hard to make it work. I think in the future we'll start to scale back on that. We're planning on doing a couple of white labels. Vinyl is definitely not a priority for me, because I don't play vinyl anymore. To be honest, I really don't care to support vinyl. I think it's kind of dead. I don't like carrying vinyl, and I don't see why anyone would want to. I really love seeing our artwork in that packaging form, but I just feel it's time to move on from [the format].

But with that said, I think it's also cool that we're [doing vinyl] and we're able to print off whatever, 1000 copies. They've all been selling. The first one sold out really quickly and the second one I think will sell out as well. We'll definitely continue that as long as it does okay.

You have your own new EP, Mercurio, coming out on Ultramajic in November. What are your plans after that?
I don't know really. I've been sort of just continuing my remix frontier. I've been working on one for Claude VonStroke, and Art Department, and just continuing that. I'm really concentrating on dance and club music because I've been DJing all year, so that's the only thing that's inspiring me. But I've also been making the complete opposite, which is this really nice ambient music and just sort of meditation music.

I don't know. [What I will do] all depends on if I find it worthwhile to make another album. I don't know if it really makes sense. I think the album format is also kind of dying. It's been nice just doing singles. I think a lot of people's albums have a lot of filler tracks, so it's the difference of me putting an album together of all really good tracks, or just releasing them as singles. That brings up another situation: do you release a bunch of singles and then just put them all together with some bonus tracks for press? That's also an option, but it just seems kinds of dirty. Who cares about that except journalists?

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