OK so let me get the obligatory Detroit questions out of the way and we can move on. Understandable though it may be that such questions are put to you in almost every interview, I'm sure you are bored of answering them. None the less the stories of a young white Detroit teenager playing with people like Juan Atkins and Derrick May at his big brothers raves, signing to Warp at the age of 18 and your many side projects deserve some kind of footnote for those who may not know your story.
It's difficult for a European to really know what Detroit is all about unless they have been there and experienced things for them selves. Do you think the Detroit you grew up in was very different from the Detroit Derrick, Juan, Kevin… grew up in? And what about now, what happens in Detroit now, where is youth culture at, are you more relevant as an artist in Berlin then your hometown?
It's equally as tough trying to explain the Detroit vibe with new words besides "desolate" and "striving". But I don't think Detroit changed much from the 80s-2000, but then again who am I to judge this? Another person’s reality is always different perspective. Plus, I was born in 1983 so I wouldn't have seen much change anyways. I remember a dark childhood, yet there were sunny days. There’s just a certain vibe of people from Detroit, I can see it when I speak to Juan, Carl, or derrick. But maybe we were the smart ones, make something happen and then leave. Detroit is great but doesn't have much to offer, if you have any kind of idea you're best bet is to leave. I struggled for nearly ten years trying to make things happen in Detroit, only to be left frustrated and on my way to NYC.
I was reading your Wikipedia page, it's quite spectacular, and some of the highlights for me were… In reference to your Michaux project "According to Audio.NL, sections of the album are so "extreme in frequency" that an acceptable vinyl release could not be produced, making it the only compact disc release on the label to date"……. and "In 2007, Edgar started several new projects as executive producer. One of which is X District, which started out as an accidental exchange of cryptic and symbolic writings between Edgar and Laura Clarke from Leeds." How does a musical album come into existence from cryptic and symbolic writing?
The Michaux thing is a lot less amazing then it sounds. It has to do with the physics of the needle on a record; it can't vibrate more than a particular frequency and that album was made with all digital technology, some of the tones were aliased and reaching above 10,000 Hz, nearly inaudible. So, it was made for CD because there was nothing analog about it. XDistrict was exactly what it says. It started out just me and Laura writing each other. She first sent me a message and it was very poetic with a real sexual undertone. We both connected on some kind of level, communicating by the poetic writings we were sending. I’ve done this with many people in my life, used a kind of subliminal messaging style, cryptic but communicating so much. For me, learning hypnosis, studying dream interpretation and reading about Jung really made sense of all this because we communicate with everything. Nowadays I pay so much attention to details, which way a person looks when they speak tends to give away intentions by eye accessing pattern cues, which I learned through hypnosis. Next time you have a moment, listen to when people sniff with their nose or cough; most of the time this is a nervous tick because they just said something they don't entirely feel comfortable with, so they are diminishing the silence or creating a subconscious detraction. Chances are, they are not sick.
As with most of your ventures it's not so much the fact you work within all the disciplines you do, it’s your ability within them… Likewise, it's easy to be experimental, making it sound good is another thing…. where do you draw the line with the concept, do you sacrifice musicality for expression? Or is that incredibly too subjective a question?
All things have color and yes color is subjective. How would you ever know someone saw the same color you did, and more importantly would it matter? Color is just a vibration in the brain anyways, so chances are we don't see the same colors, we just share the same names for them. People ask me things like this all the time as if its so amazing, but I just don't understand. I don't like standing still, I don't feel that "not doing anything" is a holiday or a break. Its my nature to stay creative otherwise I am not living, I have had natural inklings to retain energy in lots of different ways. I was born with knowledge that I have no idea where it comes from, its lead me on strange journeys. I thought everybody could see colors around people and around music, and I thought everybody saw shapes and colors when you hear someone speak and you think about numbers… but apparently not many people do this. I can't imagine a life without that.
Photographer, designer, musician… you wear many hats. Even within your role as producer your work has taken many forms, you seem to be in the enviable position of not having to define yourself by genre, do you attract interest from a broad range of musical enthusiasts or do you think the people who have been switched on to what you do are receptive to your various different styles of music?
You attract what you are. Even the bad things. That’s why it’s essential to stay positive and create and promote liveliness. I am still constantly finding myself in a state where people are afraid to get help and to create something together.. But my main goal is, despite I do everything alone, to one day have a community of close people and we are all on the same vibration creating amazing pieces of art or music. One day, this is what I am currently manifesting. Now I am traveling with people for my LED show 'Majenta', and I am realizing how much creative force you have when minds come together. It’s the power of meditation in our reality, though meditation is my reality.. Most people don't practice it. It’s unfortunately to see people space out when they are worried, because it’s the equivalent of manifesting a fearful future.
Perception is something you have touched on in past interviews, more specifically public perception of your persona, you have a very romantic back story, why do you think it's important for people to have some kind of plot behind the music and is this something you cultivate?
Perception is equally as deceptive. I've heard all types of assumptions about me, but I won't confirm or deny any of them because it doesn't matter. But on the flip side, I do live a crazy life.. And this is something that I have created because I wanted it. This is how it works. Just last week I was in Russia illegally and mad rush of masked police force show up, and a pretty little pregnant woman grabbed me and hid me in a secret room, the next day a woman pushed me off a rolling train in Moscow because I got on the wrong one.. I rolled off and stood up and laughed for about ten minutes with my friends. This is the kinda shit I'm talking about. I write most of it down, I think maybe it would make an interesting book. There was a lot about when I lived in NYC, in the press.. about my drug use, my ex's, and my trouble with the law. I feel this needs an explanation from me; maybe a book would be good therapy.
On the subject of art, can you tell us how one discipline can influence the other, how do you translate the visual in the audible and vice versa?
I have a whole new perspective on this these days after a few deep conversations with friends. It all started when my friends told me about someone we mutually knew, and she was able to only speak one language, but whenever she heard a language she could mimic the sounds automatically and really sounding like she spoke the language, but knowing no real words. This led me to think about people with amazing capacity for auditory memory. Some really interesting ideas came of this, afterwards I thought about myself and how I've always done music but it didn't feel like sound vibrations. I pretty much came to the conclusion that I don't have much auditory capacity in my memory, I am 100% visual. Then I remember talking about music making cinematic images, and being so into photography and film.. and on and on.. When I play piano I am having these shapes and colors in my head. I only have about 10% hearing in one of my ears, these days I only use one speaker to make music even though my music has so much going on in stereo… its a strange enigmatic situation that probably deserves its own interview if someone was so interested in hearing about it. I'm really sick of talking about myself you know.
Can visual art ever attain the emotive power of music?
Yes, visual art moves people just as much as music. You could probably split most groups into auditory and visual. If you pay attention to eye access cues and patterns then you can determine whether someone is visual or auditory. When they are thinking of a matter do they look left/right to their ears auditory or above to the left or right, which is usually visual. Most people do both but you can gauge by how they use language as well… "I can see what you're saying" vs. "I hear you loud and clear"
What do you strive for as a producer?
To inspire people, make them think, make them dance, make people feel sexy and good, let them hear me.
Do you take inspiration from your contemporaries and if so whom?
I don't listen to much music these days except when I'm djing. I like my friend’s music; most people who care know who I associate with so I don't feel I need to mention names.
Tell us a little about your upcoming album with Hotflush?
It’s called Majenta, it’s about the UV color coming from the center of the galaxy to inspire to world. I see it, that’s what I think and that’s my reality, I think if people wanted to create a better world they could believe their own imagination and make it happen. I'm tired of fighting, aren't all of you?
That’s just how it happened, I don't know. But they are great to work with. Paul is a nice guy and funny. We had dinner and agreed.
I read that you ended your chemical love affair a few years ago, did that change your perception of music in any way?
Unfortunately I still smoke, though much less. I always have the saying "moderation in moderation", but that’s me I'm a very extreme person. Basically I ended my extreme behavior, my extreme addictive behavior, the one that you have to do every day.. If you catch my drift. I don't like being a slave so I did something about it. I had other things to look forward to in life. I have my reasons for being on and off, but I learned a lesson.. and several people around me paid very large lessons, from which I learned. But ya know around the same time my best friend committed suicide and I think that really had a lot to do with it. Was a real low moment in my life where nothing would ever be the same.
So no more vices then?
Not really.. meditation has opened the doors of perception, and I just don't need those things as "learning lessons" anymore. If you look back on your life you can see that all the things in your life were created for you to learn from. Once you decide you learned enough, then they disappear.
Are you living the life...?
I am living my life. If I don't like it, I don't "destroy" but I create something better. We are here to learn energy mastery. We are all one.