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Jimmy Edgar is a DJ, producer, and artist hailing from Detroit. Currently residing in Los Angeles (following previous stints in Berlin and New York), the past few years have seen Jimmy increasingly in demand as an international touring DJ and live performer. With an experimental background that saw him make early releases on labels like Warp and M3rck, Jimmy’s current sights are set on the club, a focus best exemplified by his record label, Ultramajic, an outlet dedicated to releasing adventurous, mystical dance music. Each release on the label is graced by unique artwork by Pilar Zeta, making for some of the most spectacular visual art in the game.
Danny Daze is a Miami native, and the rhythms and basslines of the city manifest themselves subtly in all of the music that he puts out. He first started DJing in 1999, where he’d play the wedding circuit in order to fund his record collection for rave gigs. He moved on to production in the mid-‘00s, producing a hybrid style of dance music incorporating elements of electro, techno, Italo disco, and Miami bass, and today plays gigs all over the world.
Jimmy and Danny are good friends, often sharing bills together and playing back-to-back sets. When Jimmy started Ultramajic, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see an early release from Danny – the ‘Silicon’ EP – find a home on the label.
As the two producers and DJs ready exciting new projects (for Jimmy, this is a recent entry into the illustrious Fabriclive mix canon, while for Danny it’s a new EP and a podcast series dedicated to experimental electronic music), they sat down together for a candid conversation, discussing their philosophies, their respective backgrounds in two similar-yet-separate musical cities, and their more domestic futures ahead.
Connections to the dancefloor
Jimmy Edgar: "Danny, can you explain your connection to the dancefloor – what you want to bring to the dancefloor when you DJ, and how that correlates to the actual sounds that you end up DJing?"
Danny Daze: "My goal as a DJ has always been to have the audience by the balls, meaning being able to play the most novelty record and them not get scared away. Having them trust that you're playing Fine Young Cannibals’ She Drives Me Crazy for a reason."
"Jimmy, I know you take risks as well. Are you along the same lines when it comes to this?"
Jimmy Edgar: "Yeah, definitely. I think we are similar in that respect – whereas some people think that we’re ‘taking risks’, we’re really just playing tracks we like and want to hear. It’s real stuff. I also like that you have a sense of humor that shines through in a DJ set – it’s very subtle, but it takes you out of the ‘serious dance music’ context."
Jimmy Edgar: "Do you remember when we first met, Danny?"
Danny Daze: "I have absolutely no clue when we met actually, but I know it was years ago. I think we met in the early Miami IDM/experimental days, then we met again with Romulo [Del Castillo, aka Phoenecia] or Otto Von Schirach."
Jimmy Edgar: "Oh yeah, we have mutual friends from our respective hometowns. Otto was always saying we would be friends – he has that gift; he is always right about that stuff.
"It’s cool that we were friends for a while before we started doing stuff together. I'm also not even sure how we started working together on 'Silicon' [for Ultramajic]. It seemed very fluid. It just both made sense for us. I like that."
Danny Daze: "Yeah, it made sense – not too many Miami guys really have the similar taste in music that we do. I think the ‘Silicon’ EP actually came into play because I randomly sent you that track When The Freaks Come Out. Then you mentioned, ‘Why not drop it on Ultramajic?’, and I cooked up some other tunes. It happened really quickly, actually."
Jimmy Edgar: "Oh yeah, that was right around the time we were thinking about starting Ultramajic. Sometimes I forget about the artists who are my friends, because as an artist myself, I can be oblivious to the talent that’s right in front of my face. So it was a sort of subconscious manifestation that brought us together, which I like. It’s part of the whole ethos of the label, really."
Moving through the experimental world to the dance music world
Danny Daze: "Jimmy, how has your transition from the ‘experimental’ world into a more ‘dance’ world reflected in your DJ sets? Do you see yourself making music specifically geared towards dancefloors now? Or do you even see a difference in both worlds at all?"
Jimmy Edgar: "Well to be honest I always wanted people to dance to my weird music. And some people did, but I always want to expand and grow. I wanted people to dance to my music more than I wanted to make weird music – I simply just made weird music inherently. I see myself as just shifting that focus to allow people to understand ‘body music’ a bit more. Something about growing up in Detroit is that people can dance to almost anything, and radio in the late ‘80s reflected this. Like The New Dance Show/The Scene – we liked fast music. Miami is pretty similar in this way, isn't it?"
Danny Daze: "Well the Miami scene is all over the place – being 80% Hispanic, basically, we are full of syncopation. This is why our experimental scene was so insane. Labels like M3rck and Schematic really showed this off quite nicely. But then we also had people that simply wanted to shake their ass to 2 Live Crew, DJ Uncle, and anything that blew subwoofers."
Jimmy Edgar: "I hear that a lot in your DJ sets. You have this very loose, rhythmic sensibility that seems to be a loose influence from the Latin vibe. Whereas I can see why you liked music from Detroit – it’s the opposite counterpart, very machine-like, and using emotional vibration in a different way; more static."
Danny Daze: "That loose sensibility you're hearing is actually the 12 tequila shots talking."
Jimmy Edgar: "Let’s talk about tequila a bit now. Isn't it true you were married to Tila Tequila?"
Danny Daze: "Actually, I got into Detroit for one reason only – electro. Miami and Detroit have a much greater bond than most people know – Miami bass-influenced electro, electro-influenced Miami bass. For example, Juan Atkins and Pretty Tony Butler – two guys from two different cities making very similar music, but with a rich unique sound influenced by the cities they are from. Juan Atkins was very industrial, while Pretty Tony Butler was more of a freestyle, Miami bass, lowest subwoofer-you-can-possibly-have-in-your-music [kind of guy]."
Jimmy Edgar: "I always used to say that Miami is kind of the tropical Detroit. Pretty Tony is great. Direct Beat was my favourite label – it was like Detroit influenced by Miami. Did you ever know AUX 88 [Tom Tom and Keith Tucker, aka DJ K1]?"
Danny Daze: "AUX 88 is a massive influence on me, just like the entire Direct Beat label – might throw the Interdimensional Transmissions crew (Ectomorph, BMG, Erika, DJ Godfather) in there as well."
Jimmy Edgar: "Yes, all legends. Much respect."
"Miami and Detroit have a much greater bond than most people know." – Danny Daze
Jimmy Edgar: "We both had really similar backgrounds, which I assume brought us together. We were both young hustlers trying new sounds, DJing weddings, traveling at a young age… How do you see DJing parties versus producing? What are your thoughts on being in the studio versus partying?"
Danny Daze: "Don't know about you, but I go into the studio simply to produce music I know I would play in my DJ sets. I don't go into it thinking, ‘Would another DJ play this?’ or, ‘Is this a chart topper?’ It’s very easy to be influenced by number, but that’s not my thing. Which is also why I think we click. You've just done what you feel is right without worrying to much about what others think."
Jimmy Edgar: "Absolutely, our DJ sets are most important, which is why I feel that we are able to be very passionate about the music. I treat Ultramajic like this as well. I want to release only stuff that I want to play over and over again in DJ sets. Which is interesting, because as a DJ we have moved away from making more experimental music – non-dance music. For me, I still make this kind of music, but in this industry I have found it hard to figure out how exactly to present music like this."
Danny Daze: "When it comes to Ultramajic, how much of the art is inspired by the music? How much of the music is inspired by the art? I'm sure you're the same way as I am, where different frequencies represent different colours in the spectrum, no?"
Jimmy Edgar: "Well, it’s release by release, and we change up the techniques all the time. Some designs are 3D, some are collages, most are combined techniques. I really like the idea of hybridized worlds, meaning we are using ‘suspension of disbelief’ to create something entirely new. Two seemingly unrelated worlds come together and create a new domain of experience or knowing. Which is a fancy way of saying they aren't completely having something to do with each other all the time. Yet we do brainstorm with symbolism while we listen to the music, so it’s subconscious.
"Also, with your release ‘Silicon’, we did huge database research on crystals, silicon energy, and data storage, and even silicon breast implants. It took us on a journey that ended up being your cover, which is one of my favourites.
"Colour plays a big part of the way I use harmonies; it rarely has to do with rhythm. But yes, colour is really important because of how closely it relates to tone. Rhythm for me is more about texture and movement. So you could say, at the end of a song being finished, we then have a 3D/4D piece of art that has an astral set of color schemes, textures, etc. A sort of living sculpture.
"I tend to look at music in a 3D space, a room that extends the period of the song, where different colour waves have different sizes and textures. It’s very subtle, but when you get into this meditation when making music, you can start to play with these things. It’s not any kind of special ability – anyone can do it. It’s just a perspective, a way of seeing things, a way you relate things in the mind and create connections."
Danny Daze: "I agree, a living representation of sound is the way that I've seen/heard music for a while. Everything from panning to depth of field comes into play with sound, although depth of field means nothing in sound other than how far or close that particular sound is."
"I really like the idea of hybridized worlds, meaning we are using ‘suspension of disbelief’ to create something entirely new. Two seemingly unrelated worlds come together and create a new domain of experience or knowing." – Jimmy Edgar
Jimmy Edgar: "How intuitive do you feel with your music? Do you always know what a track needs or do you experiment a lot to find new ideas?"
Danny Daze: "I’ve always thought intuition comes hand in hand with experience."
Jimmy Edgar: "So do you mean, you draw from experience more?"
Danny Daze: "When I first started in ’99, my intuitions were completely different to now. Being put in front of 3,000 person rooms tends to shift your perspective on what a song ‘needs’ or what track you should be playing next in your DJ set. This is what I battle with, as I tend to go against my first instinct on many things in order to keep myself excited."
Jimmy Edgar: "So, with that do you feel when you produce that you are a sort of ambassador of sound devoted to making people move?"
Danny Daze: "Is this something you feel you do? Purposely push yourself away from what you usually would do?"
Danny Daze: When I make music, my main goal is usually to not sound like the last track I produced. This is more bad than good for anyone’s career, as people tend to gravitate towards what they ‘know’ or what they can expect."
Jimmy Edgar: "These days I’m trying to find balance in this. I think first and foremost I let myself go in the studio, because any time I try and push myself to do something that isn't instinctual I get frustrated. So it’s constantly getting back to that basic instinct. Now what I do is let myself go into this crazy world of sound, and then when I feel I have something I start to edit it into something that at least has some kind of interesting movement. I start out the artist and end up the secretary to this artist, as an analogy. Innovation is something really prevalent, otherwise I get bored."
Danny Daze: "The most frustrating part to making music is knowing when ‘enough is enough’. I give much respect to the minimalists, as this in itself is an art that I wish I had. There are producers who with five elements can make the sickest record you've heard. Example: Maurice Fulton."
Jimmy Edgar: "My take on minimalism, and why the whole minimal sound committed suicide, is this: just as in art, minimal only makes sense with a solid foundation of color, light, texture, whatever your medium. This applies to music as well, and I've become a lot more minimal in my sound after getting the sounds that I like. In general if you have three or so sounds that are big and talking to each other, then you have a party."
Danny Daze: "This is exactly where I'm trying to land as an artist. The king of this is Anthony Rother."
Jimmy Edgar: "One thing I respect about you is that you don't really seem to give a shit about music gear – you like to use whatever is in front of you and try new stuff, right?"
Danny Daze: "Well, music gear is fun, but I'm ADHD as hell. I wanna jump in and immediately start making noises but every time I visit my mom’s house in Miami where I've got quite a bit a gear, I've got my grandma asking if I want food every 30 minutes. For the last four years I've being producing on headphones and a couple of crappy little toy synths I carry around. I know you've got a pretty fresh set up. I find it interesting how some people can make music simply with a computer, then there are artists who are fully vested in 77,000 patch cables, yet can't render out a track. I like the fact you actually finish music, haha."
Jimmy Edgar: "Yeah, that’s a pretty deep philosophical subject. What works for me is using good sounding gear. And this won't work for everyone, and you don't need hardware to make good music. For instance, a three sound beat with a chord sound can be pressed straight to vinyl if made on an MPC-60. Try doing that in Ableton and it won't connect with the people as much."
"I'm ADHD as hell. I wanna jump in an immediately started making noises but every time I visit my mom’s house in Miami where I've got quite a bit a gear, I've got my grandma asking if I want food every 30 minutes." – Danny Daze
Changes of scenery
Danny Daze: "Jimmy, when was it that you moved to Berlin again?"
Jimmy Edgar: "I moved to Berlin about four years ago, almost five. But the past year I've been coming less and less. My time in Berlin is coming to an end – end of an era. But it was really good. I never thought I would be living in Germany."
Danny Daze: "Is there a main reason why you left to LA? Change of scenery? New inspiration? Wanna get a tan?"
Jimmy Edgar: "I left to LA on a random whim. There were a lot of personal reasons. I’ve started exercising consistently, eating better, and yes, the sun is great. I’ve sort of left this dark side of mine in Berlin. I find LA very inspiring."
Danny Daze: "I love Baywatch!!!"
Jimmy Edgar: "I love how people get scared of moving to places because they don't want to be inspired by it – it seems like such an idiotic way of thinking. It’s funny for us though, right? Because you're not in Miami that much, and I'm not in LA that much. What do you think about that? Part of me would love to go back Detroit and live in the studio. But I have other aspirations and I still feel like I am making the music that I want to make, so I have no complaints."
Danny Daze: "This DJ life has taken me to places I never thought I would be, to be honest."
Jimmy Edgar: "Do you see yourself as adventurous? Because sometimes I get the feeling you don't see yourself like that! But imagine someone else’s perspective – maybe your grandma. She probably thinks you're insane for travelling and partying all over the world every weekend, right?"
Danny Daze: "I don't ever see us having a nine to five job. After traveling how we have, it’s gonna be quite difficult feeling content with settling in once place for a couple years without jumping on an aeroplane. I'm a bit nervous about this, as this is a good indication that our lives may be a shit show for a little while. Well, at least my life.
"I don't have the stamina to be adventurous. The more I travel, the more I enjoy hanging out in my toilet. Not in my toilet – but on my toilet. Although last week in Paris I was in my toilet a couple of times.
"Do you think about having kids? A nice house? A white picket fence with a holographic door?"
Jimmy Edgar: "My plan was not to have kids. If anything I would adopt some kids from Africa or something. I think being a teacher is one of my best qualities, so I would like to do that without the responsibility of being a father. My childhood wasn't perfect, so I think I am still working through that. I really value my friendships and I wish to create a good vibe with good people around – it’s why I started Ultramajic. Music is my baby."
"Do you think about having kids? A nice house? A white picket fence with a holographic door?" – Danny Daze
Jimmy Edgar: "I am concentrating on Ultramajic, and working on new art stuff with Pilar Zeta. Bringing people together, like you Danny, and doing cool stuff we want to do. We see the value of collaboration in this stagnated industry and the ‘let’s get together’ motif is really working for us. The crew mentality is very cool."
Danny Daze: "Well, 2015 is gonna be a nutty one. I ran a label when I was 16/17 years old, and have decided to jump on it again. I completely forgot how many emails were involved in this process. 2015 is a year to focus on living life, actually taking time off, and being able to enjoy time with friends and family. And getting Jimmy to take 20 tequila shots with me.