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Jimmy Edgar Live at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen

A couple of months ago, Kara Simsek chatted to Jimmy Edgar about his photography. Now, he’s playing in Shoreditch, so we thought we’d revisit this encounter. We’ve got a paid of tickets to win to the event here, and to win a copy of Jimmy’s new album XXX, check the bottom of this post. Enjoy…

Despite the fact that he was performing at raves in Detroit from the tender age of 15, is signed to Warp Records and has just released his second full length album, XXX, on !K7, Jimmy Edgar doesn’t regard himself as being a musician. In fact, he simply makes music to fund his true passion, which is fashion photography. Oh, and he’s really ridiculously good at it.

The Detroit native is full of surprises. Firstly, he doesn’t like being associated with his home town saying, “I really don’t have much to do with Detroit except that I grew up there.” Now aged 27, Edgar left the Motor City for New York when he was 22 to pursue his hobbies of fashion photography and film work. Upon arrival in New York, he began doing model testing for most of the city’s model agencies, a job that gave him easy access to models, and helped him craft his talent.

“I hate having my photo taken but I like working with people which is why I like doing film and photography,” he explains. “It’s sort of a developing relationship when you work with someone closely, there’s always a subtle kind of tension. It could be frustration, that someone doesn’t like having their pictures taken, or it can be an intimate thing. That’s what I like about it, it’s kind of like taking control over someone – maybe it’s a dominance thing, I dunno.”

His interest in photography started with him taking photos of his friends, and it soon grew to include the ambition of making a feature film inspired by fashion photography. “I am sort of writing it right now,” he explains. “I have a YouTube channel where I put little short films, but I am trying to develop it in to something a bit more unique.”

Looking at some of his videos on YouTube, with their lucid narratives and gloomy auras, it’s clear that Edgar is heavily influenced by David Lynch, and even names Blue Velvet as his favourite film. Along with Lynch, he also cites American short film director Kenneth Anger as an influence. “With Anger’s films you watch them and you’re kind of put in to a trance. Everything’s hypnotic and keeps you in the moment. You’re always going on a path to a new mystery to the left or to the right.”

Edgar has always held an ‘interest’ in hypnosis, and last year was certified in hypnotherapy. This new skill has undeniably shaped his as yet untitled film project, which he will be casting for soon. “Writing is pretty intensive as all the dialogue is in hypnotic language. It’s about engaging the person who is watching it,” he says. “Some of the images are classic hypnotic images, circles spinning, it’s kind of a subliminal thing. It’s one of those things that will take a lot of time, a lot of process in each shot. Every scene is going to be like its own editorial with dialogue.

“I would never do hypnotism professionally as I’m a little bit too shy with that sort of stuff. I almost feel bad as I know how easy it is to do, and it’s almost scary,” he says, before adding, “I realised that if you make a film with that you could completely control how someone was thinking, it goes back to the dominance thing I was telling you about – I think I have control issues.”

Whilst producing his film is his long term goal, for now he is concentrating on his music. XXX is a sexually charged record, the glamorous, gold lurex encased opposite to 2006′s ‘Color Strip’. “I don’t really see myself as a musician as I only have 5% hearing in one ear,” he says. “Whenever I make music it’s trying to fulfil a cinematic experience of something that you hear visually. So If I hear music that doesn’t make me see anything I can never remember it, I can never hear it.”

The record has also caused him to relocate to Berlin, home of !K7 records. He’s not a fan of the city. “I like Berlin but I kinda hate it, too. Especially after living in New York because I think the resources here are just non-existent.  Doing photography here is a nightmare, I’ve already tried to do three shoots and either somebody cancelled, or a studio is unavailable, it’s really unreliable, it’s a shame.” It’s not just the lack of professionalism that has been a culture shock. “Since I’ve moved here about a month ago, I’ve become an alcoholic,” he jokes. “The culture here is drinking and partying all the time. I miss being in my studio and working, but it’s been a nice summer so I can’t complain.”

A benefit of being in the German capital is that he can finally display the hoards of photographs collecting dust in his archives. “The other stuff I’ve done are Polaroids and stuff like that. Typically I can’t put them online as I didn’t get model releases from a lot of the people, and agencies get really pissed off.  I have a really big box of images, I’m working on an exhibition using all that stuff as none of the models are in Berlin…”

As well as the exhibition, he’s also working on a photo project based around a series of 8 x 10 Polaroids. “It’s fashion photography – obviously – with Brian Lichtenberg, the designer from Hollywood. I’m working with him and a Japanese artist called Black Operator.” Some of Edgar’s favourite photographers include Juergen Teller, Steven Klein, Miles Aldridge, Steven Meisel and Sam Hessamian, and looking at his 2008 Adaptable Colour shoot (which featured in the 10th anniversary edition of Spain’s H Magazine) it’s not hard to imagine he may one day be equally revered. “That was actually one of my first shoots in New York, so it was kind of about utilising a professional studio with lighting. We had a 20,000 Euro budget for it, and it didn’t end up getting used when it was supposed to. It was a culmination of a lot of the different things that I was doing.”

He is modest about its success and considers it one of his less interesting shoots. “I shot it digitally and I like shooting on film a little bit better,” he says. “I think part of the style is finding really interesting people, something beautiful about someone who looks really strange. That’s where I kind of am right now. I used to be in to the typical model look, as once you disfigure that and do something really strange with make-up or fashion or whatever it may be, then it becomes really interesting because you’re kind of using an industry standard. I’ve kind of done the flip side now where I’m working with more interesting looking people and doing a bit more straight up paparazzi looking photos.”

However, life hasn’t always been globe trotting, making amazing music and snapping fashion models. “When I was in high school I was assistant at a morgue for a few months, so I did shoots with dead bodies and stuff like that. I had never seen a dead body before and wanted to see it. Then I started helping out with the make-up for the funerals,” Edgar reveals. “The problem with that is that it’s really illegal. It’s nearly as bad as having kiddie porn. Another problem is that everyone who works at a funeral home is so fucking weird. It’s so depressing and awkward… Plus all the grieving people, that’s the worst part.”

Tender love, an East London based design/DJ/promoters outfit, are bringing Jimmy back to London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen for an exclusive live audio-visual show on 11 December – never before seen in UK – with support coming from Night Slugs’ label boss Bok Bok and Hoya:Hoya / Fat City’s Illum Sphere as well as live VJ’s and light installations.

If you want to win a copy of Jimmy’s album, email seb[at]musichqmedia.com with your name and address.

Words: Kara Simsek

Image: www.electronicbeats.net

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