CHEETAH BEND

Jimmy Edgar

CHEETAH BEND

In many ways, Jimmy Edgar’s fourth solo album is a tribute to the glitz and grit of Los Angeles. The Detroit native moved there after a stint in Berlin—having burned out on the German city’s obsession with underground cool—and was soon connected to the visionary producer SOPHIE, who shifted his perspective on the role of art. “She always made a point of saying, ‘Listen, I’m actually trying to make mainstream music. I’m not interested in staying underground,” he tells Apple Music. “To her, that was more radical. You just had to believe your weird sound was worthy of big artists, and I did.”
SOPHIE died tragically a few weeks before CHEETAH BEND was released, but her fingerprints are all over the album, he says, from the cartoonish, mechanical textures to the charismatic, flashy features. “LA revolves around fame and success,” he says. “She encouraged me to use that, to examine it, to riff on it.” Zigzagging between jagged, dizzying trap and bleary-eyed hip-hop with flickers of techno, hyper-pop, and R&B, the project feels less like a statement on the state of modern pop music and more like a dream of what it could be. Below, the shape-shifting producer takes us inside five of his favorite tracks.
CURVES “The day I recorded this, SOPHIE and I went to Disneyland. She had VIP tickets because she didn't want to wait in line. Afterwards, we got sushi and she was like, ‘Hey, so Vince Staples is having a session if you want to go?’ When we got there, she insisted I play a track for him, and it wound up being the last track on his album Big Fish Theory. After we left, she was like, ‘So Charli XCX is in this other studio, do you want to go?’ It turned out to be Charli, A. G. Cook, and Noonie Bao, and we just started playing around. I wrote ‘CURVES’ in that session. It was initially going to be for Charli, but I think you can hear SOPHIE’s influence just from her being in the room. It's a big texture collage that has this physical bounce and bump to it.”
GET UP (feat. Danny Brown) “I’d gone to Detroit and Danny showed up at the studio. I played him a bunch of different beats, but I had one track that I felt was particularly strong, so I ended with that. When I played it, one of his roommates who was asleep on the couch literally jumped up and was like, ‘DAMN! This is the one! This is the one!’ I just remember smiling ear to ear, because I was like, yup, yes, it is.”
HAVE A GREAT NOW! “We always say ‘have a great day,’ or ‘have a great trip,’ but never ‘have a great now.’ Someone pointed this out to me once and it really hit me, so I used that idea to write the track. I started playing sounds on a synthesizer and connected them using compositional music theory, essentially making the entire song in the moment. It worked on these meta and microscopic levels. If you listen closely, it sounds like the track is cycling through dozens or hundreds of songs—almost like it has songs inside of songs. But I see it as a musical snapshot of my style, where everything is connected but distinct.”
METAL “SOPHIE and I had been exchanging synthesizer files for years, and developing new styles of synthesis since 2011 or so. We were trying to figure out how to create sounds that sound like physical objects. I was downloading a lot of white papers from universities and doing all this technical research to figure out how to achieve this. Basically, a lot of the album is based on physical modeling, and there are a couple types of synthesis that are related to that. One is called ‘sweep step synthesis,’ which is emulating, say, the sound of rubbing your finger on glass, which casts the glass as a resonant body and the finger as something with tension and resistance. We ate this stuff up. ‘METAL’ was an attempt to lean into these concepts. She and I had a bunch of collaborations, but this was the one that felt like the most finished and relevant to the album.”
PAUSE “I’d wanted to work with Matt Ox since I heard his fidget spinner song. He was, like, eight years old or something like that, and I just thought he was this interesting, enigmatic rapper. Plus, he was working with guys like Chief Keef, doing legit stuff. I found it really inspiring. I wanted to get him to sing because I liked his singing voice, but I also wanted him to rap, so I wrote the song in two sections that kind of repel each other. That’s a big part of the album, too, this idea of playing with extremes: soft sounds and hard sounds, big noises and negative space. I'm a pretty extreme person, so I'm always trying to push things. One thing I weirdly liked about this song was that I suspected some people might hate it, that they’d be annoyed by it or something. But I was drawn to that. I think it’s important to nurture art that’s more polarizing. It keeps you honest.”

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