I got the opportunity to interview platinum awarded music producer Jimmy Cardell, also known as Jimmy Ledrac, about his latest album, The Gordian Knot, and his label, Selected Samples.
Mary Ann Mahoney: Hi, Jimmy. Thanks for chatting with me today!
Jimmy Cardell: Thank you, happy to talk to you.
MAM: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
JC: I am a man who makes beats. I started in the late 90s, and up until recently I have produced rappers and singers, but now I’m aiming to do a few solo songs as well. I played the drums and the guitar as a kid and it all went naturally from there.
MAM: Can you tell our readers a bit about The Gordian Knot?
JC: It was kind of an impulse. If I remember correctly, the first track I did was “Berlin Morning Coffee”. When it was done, I figured that it didn’t need singing or rapping. Then some kind of creative explosion happened, and I made most of the other tracks in like two or three weeks. The sound is very lo-fi-no-treble-type-music.
MAM: When was your album released?
JC: May 4th, 2018
MAM: How long have you been creating music for?
JC: Since February 13th, 1999. I remember because I had a friend over that night who brought me my first program I used to produce music. We created the first project, probably called “1”. Since then all my instrumentals are titled with a number.
MAM: It says on your website that you’re ‘a platinum-awarded composer, record producer and musician’. Which record went platinum?
JC: There where two albums which went platinum with the polish act Sokol i Marysia Starosta in 2011 and 2013.
MAM: Tell us about your music-making process.
JC: It differs. For the first ten years, I always started with the drums, like most hip hop producers did at the time. Today, I tend to do the chord progression first, or the melody.
MAM: Is there any particular song on the album that stands out to you?
JC: Probably “If You Come Along”. It’s the last track on the album. It’s me singing and playing a wah wah guitar. You can’t really hear the guitar because of all the dirt and synths now though. The plan was to make a song that I could re-sample and make a new track out of. And that’s exactly what happened.
MAM: What inspired you to write this album?
JC: Hm… Cold showers perhaps, or yoga, or just walking.
MAM: How much planning went into this album?
JC: It all worked out smooth, natural and spontaneously. I made all the ground work on my laptop and in my favorite café in my hometown. Then I finished all the songs within days when I mixed it. My sister came and did background vocals on “Trying”.
MAM: Tell us about your album cover.
JC: That’s a cool photo I found from a photographer called Anastasiya Lobanovskaya in Azerbaijan. She took a photo of her friend. I don’t know why, but when I saw it, I really wanted to use it for the cover. She looks so cool, and it’s got a dreamy vibe.
MAM: What do you want people to take away from this album?
JC: I would be glad if people find some kind of comfort and can relax for 25 minutes
while listening to it.
MAM: What has the response to your album been like?
JC: The feedback has been great from other musicians. Perhaps it’s musicians music.
MAM: What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating this album?
JC: I was hungry. I was doing intermittent fasting at the same time. I do that sometimes.
Sometimes, I fast for three days straight. It’s almost a religious experience.
MAM: You recently started your own label, Selected Samples. Why?
JC: It started out as a production company, which it still is in some ways. I produced samples and sounds for other producers. But after a while, that idea morphed into a label instead.
MAM: How does your music differ when you create music as Jimmy Ledrac, UN:INKD and Chicago Hartley?
JC: Chicago Hartley is me playing live instruments, almost 60s sounding rock. UN:INKD is me producing more pop-oriented material with guest vocalists, and Jimmy Ledrac is me producing instrumental beat-sounding music. Most of the time it’s for other rappers, of course.
MAM: You’ve worked with a lot of artists during your career. Who have you enjoyed working with the most and who would you like to work with again?
JC: I must say Curse, also known as Michael Kurth. He is a German rapper. He is a very bright, intelligent dude. And very friendly and funny. We spent a lot of time in Germany, working together in the past. I once made a beat for Collie Buddz. Unfortunately, the song was leaked so it never got a proper release. At this very moment, I am making a beat with Nicki Minaj in mind. Whether her people get to hear it is another question. Only the future will tell.
MAM: Are there any other musicians that inspire you or that you admire?
JC: I admire a whole lot of musicians, producers and songwriters; Max Martin and all the people surrounding him, Stargate from Norway, Dr. Luke. Also I enjoy listening to Washed Out, Two Fingers a.k.a. Amon Tobin. I just found someone on SoundCloud named imagiro, who makes really cool stuff. A lot of younger producers are super cool too. Murda Beatz makes sick music.
MAM: How do you feel about the direction that the music industry is going in terms of streaming-oriented business models?
JC: I enjoy it. Now someone who released a record 30 years ago can receive a little revenue for it again.
MAM: What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t making music?
JC: I make music or think about music pretty much all the time. I do some strength training and cardio. I find biohacking really interesting. Politics, philosophy and meditation are also interesting topics that I enjoy reading about. I also walk a lot. In silence, no music— just walking. Breath work and meditation is also something I spend time doing.
MAM: What’s next for you in 2018? Do you have any big plans?
JC: I am trying to pitch my beats to rappers right now. That is my main focus.
MAM: Are you playing any shows?
JC: No, not yet. I enjoy the studio life the most.
MAM: Where can people follow you on social media?
MAM: Where can people listen to/ purchase your album?
JC: They can find it on Spotify and most digital outlets like Phonofile. If they live in a country with limited access, I am sure they can find it on various blogs too.