Ultramajic: Jimmy Edgar’s Label of Digital Shamanism
The label head talks Detroit, the hermetic principles and the usefulness of Boiler Room.
Photo by Vitali Gelwich
Imprints brings you regular profiles of the most exciting record labels around the world, with input from the movers and shakers who contribute to their local electronic music communities.
Not many fifteen year olds can say they honed stages at Detroit raves in '90s—but Detroit native Jimmy Edgar can. With a long history of involvement in electronic music, Edgar has had records released on Warp and seen his name listed on the DEMF line-up multiple times. His newest endeavor is his own label, Ultramajic, which has garnered serious attention in its short time in the scene. THUMP asked the music don about his latest venture.
THUMP: Can you explain the name of your label, Ultramajic?
Jimmy Edgar: The name was formed on December 21 2012. Not for any real reason but sheer coincidence, as we were all taking a trip down to Macchu Piccu. It was nighttime and we were relaxing and loosely wondering if anything special was going to happen on this trip. We were in Argentina and soon on our way to Peru. Anyways, I was watching X-Files and a scene came on that had paperwork and a stamp that said "MAJIC EYES ONLY." Although I've seen this before and did a lot of research on MJ12, it inspired me to have the name since the label would be about futuristic music, digital shamanism and virtual altars. Plus, I had named an album Majenta so it seemed to fit the path.
Why did you decide to form the label? Does your visual art play as important of a role as the music itself?
The plan from the beginning was to merge a very specific look and feel to give music more of a visual domain to live in. It was invented to be a home for all of our work in a very focused way. Ultramajic is the sort of magnifying glass to our sunlight.
How did growing up in Detroit influence you personally and musically? Does it continue to do so, despite you living elsewhere at this point?
I've been asked this so many times and I always say something different. I wouldn't really know what would be different if I grew up somewhere else. I was somehow inspired by the struggle and despair in Detroit. I think I can relate to Juan Atkins when he talked about people in Detroit imagining a better place. Which is why he was into Kraftwerk and Scifi, because these things represented technology and innovation. Detroit was a technology oriented city for the industrial revolution and unfortunately it sorta got left behind when the internet came around, which was more my generation. I could say that my friends and I were the first to come out of Detroit from the Internet, as the music industry was already enduring a dramatic change. Style still had to be found and searched out; before that, you only had the culture of your surroundings, where were entirely different than today because you have mass amounts of subgenres and subcultures virtually everywhere.
Tell us about the Metaphysix: III, Correspondence release due out on September 15.
The release is entitled Metaphysix: III, Correspondence because it relates to the Hermetic principles. I see the principles as related to quantum theory and I love everything about this subject, especially the Holographic Universe Theory. The law says "As above so below; as below, so above." I find this law important because I can see how culture moves like a flock of birds and though we may not be in direct communication, we rely on other ways to communicate and relate to each other. This materialized itself in the form of the relationship between Paris and Ultramajic, because we've found a great affinity with Paris for any reason. We just happened to get a demo from Bobmo that made the cut, it's one of my favourite tracks. Of course, our good friends French Fries and Bambounou were up for joining. Also, we introduce a new artist that is breaking down our idea of what a DJ/musician should be, Crystal Bandito. She's a virtual spokesperson for the label and will be introducing herself online with a YouTube news release.
How do you decide to select an artist or a track for your label? Do you test tracks out in the club before you know they will fit on Ultramajic?
Yes, but after DJing for so long when you hear a track you generally know if it will work or not. I don't rely on anything unsure, if it's not amazing then we don't really feel any need to put effort into it. The whole vibe of the label is to manifest things that are amazing. This is why the label has been successful because we are all passionate about it, we love the music and we love the art. When Pilar Zeta and I design the covers, we have a checklist that's sort of a joke but turned out to be a true asset. It's, "FUN, MYSTIC, MAGICK, FASHION." First off, everything has to be fun, that's number one. Then we like to create some tension and mystery with adding in mystic philosophy. This creates a need to know more and a desire to live inside the art. Magick is the marriage of fun and mystic. Fashion is normally something that is culturally relevant today, this normally has materialized as some type of pattern or texture we've made.
You're going to be at Output in Brooklyn on September 18th. Have you played there before and do you have anything in particular you like about New York's scene?
Yes, many times. I love Output. I've only been once when I wasn't playing and actually I had a lot of fun and it relit my fire about techno in the US. I think it's incredibly important that America is discovering the vibe about real dance parties. There was a time in America, despite the rave scene, that when a DJ played everyone stood around not really sure what to do. This is because they either didn't understand the music or were insecure in dancing. I see Boiler Room as very influential to this culture, because now we don't have blind eyes to what the rest of the world is doing at a dance party. It's a very deep subject for me because I have some beliefs about dancing and how it relates to indigenous cultures. DJs sort of play the role of shaman these days and although it's still different, we are starting to rediscover why dancing is important, what it does to the body and mind and why exactly these indigenous people were so into it.
Some of your early musical experiences in Detroit were in Baptist churches, but in contrast, some were in strip clubs and raves. How did this diverse range of musical settings have an effect on you?
I was only in the church to learn music. As far as the strip clubs and raves, I was only there for the music too. Sure, I had fun, but there was a goal in mind. I think strip clubs are fucking gross, but most churches aren't that much better… raves are pretty rank too, but we weren't there to be clean right?
More from Ultramajic:
Jimmy Edgar, the Cornerstone of New School Detroit Techno
Spatial's 'Circlon' EP Is the Most Beautiful Ultramajic Record We've Ever Heard
Chambray's Ultramajic Mix is 62 Minutes of Techno Wonkiness