cover feature
ED BANGER Words by J. Saintil Left to Right: Feadz, SebastiAn, Vicarious Bliss, Uffie, Busy P., So Me, DJ Mehdi, Justice the past four years, something has been bubbling in Paris. It seems the citysignatures, not to mention church organs, into clubs and onto radio stations worldwide, For reawakened after the downturn of the French Touch, with the kids turning theirquite literally flipping the script with their cut-up, scuzzy, rock-infused electro. And that’s hands to production. Their sound fused different genres into a coherent whole and, muchnot to mention the wonders of SebastiAn, the foxy Roxanne Shante-esque flows of Uffie, of the time, it was aimed at the dancefloor. There were many labels that appeared atnor veteran Mr Oizo, Feadz or DJ Mehdi. that time: Kitsuné, Institubes and Record Makers were amongst them, but it was EdSupporting all this talent is one ‘Busy’ Pedro Winter. Pedro has been in the game Banger that set the tone both aurally and aesthetically. The first wave of Ed Banger feverfor over a decade, but is still as full of beans as an underage fluoro raver. But don’t that shattered the mould was the incredibly catchy (and chant-inducing) collabo betweenget it twisted, he knows his stuff. From the infamous ‘Hype’ parties which showcased Simian and Ed Rec flag bearers Justice on ‘Never Be Alone’ released on Gigolo Recordsthe best of the French Touch scene including DJ Cam, Motorbass and Etienne De (then re-released as ‘We Are Your Friends’). Since then, there have been umpteen releases,Crecy, to being Daft Punk’s manager at the cusp of their success. Pedro has seen it not to mention parties, that have solidified the label as one of the most important of theall. Damn. past few years. Justice’s ‘Waters Of Nazareth’ brought what some believed to be classicalWe caught up with the Busy one for a bit of schooling…
It seems that you’ve been an important figure in the French scene over the years. Do you think it’s a case of knowing the right people, or that you have a good eye/ear? I think it’s just being there at a good time. I think I was lucky enough to meet people, also having met everybody at the early Hype parties. So we started all at zero and then we all grew up in different directions. But we all know each other and follow what the others are doing. For example, I’m not into Bob Sinclar’s music anymore, but I still know and follow what he’s doing. At the beginning we were really close, maybe ten or fifteen years ago when he was doing his first tracks. He’d call me up and make me listen to them. I was just there at a good time. The great thing is, I’ve met a lot of people and we never had competition with each other, bad vibes or jealousy against each other. All I wanted was for people to put out good music, put on good parties and maybe I just situate good energy around me as opposed to competition. Maybe that’s the reason I’m still here more than ten years later.
Yep, it seems to have worked out for you. But you were thrown in at the deep end, managing Daft Punk at the start of their success whilst you were still doing the parties? Was that difficult? It was the best way to learn my job, you know? When I started working with Thomas and Guy-Manuel (Daft Punk) I was 21, and the same for them. We were the same age and we knew nothing about the
music business. I’m glad that I learned what I did with the people from Virgin Records. At the time it was the old Virgin team, you know? Ken Berry, Nancy Berry, it was really good, the time when Virgin was still a bit artistic and a bit crazy. They had a bit of the showbusiness of the 80s; spending money, experimenting with things. This isn’t possible at all anymore. Now they just want to sell records and spend as little money as possible. So I think I learned it at a good time and especially with Daft Punk, as those guys knew exactly what they wanted to do and what they didn’t.
How did the Ed Banger empire start? I started it in 2003 and it was really a selfish thing. Thomas and Guy-Manuel had their own labels: Roulé and Crydamoure, and I wanted to have my own thing. As I’m part of Daft Punk, but it’s not my thing you know? I wanted to prove something to myself, as well as proving to the Daft Punk boys that I could also do something, so I started my label. I spent my nights working on it… my days, my money, my everything and now I’m starting to feel happy about it. It was just about having a label. I didn’t really have a goal or know exactly where it would go. I know what I like: Mo Wax, Stones Throw, you know, those kinds of labels. Open-minded music, and for sure I wanted to bring something fresh and new, find new kids and other young people and this is why I started to sign SebastiAn, Justice, Uffie, Mr Flash and all those guys.
So how did you find these guys? A lot of accidents. Bumping into them and getting a CD, crying and calling them back the next day in the case of Justice. Bumping into them on the street or people sending me demos. For example, SebastiAn sent me demos and I liked them. You know the normal music industry thing.
Wait a minute…what happened with Justice? [Meeting]Justice was a complete accident. I was introduced to them by So Me, the art director of the company who does all the sleeves, and he’s been friends with them for a long time. So, one day he told me he was going to a cheese party and I put my knees on the floor and said “Man, I want to go to this cheese party.” So we go to the party and I meet some of So Me’s friends and amongst them, were the Justice boys. They said “Hey we make some music, do you want to listen?” And I looked at them and said“Do you know who you are talking to?! Bastards!?” So then they apologised, and I told them to ask nicely. So they were all like (affects a submissive tone) “Ah Mr Winter, can you listen to our music”. And I was like: “Okay, but play it now. Do it now.” They put on ‘We Are Your Friends’ and I cried right there. The next day I called them, they came to my office and I signed them. It was a magical moment. The day after I realised I was a lucky bastard to sign those guys because I think they are geniuses. They’re gonna make me happy. Maybe not rich, but they’ll definitely make me happy.
“It’s just the evolution of the sound… Justice, they’re noisy and cut-up with the breakdowns and all this. Maybe five years ago everyone was really into disco, filtered and 4/4 you know? Now perhaps they are more into scuzzy sounds and ready to listen to cut-up stuff.”
There appears to be a strong Ed Banger identity. Is there an underlying concept? Just like I was saying earlier, it’s selfish. Being head of the label or A&R, it’s really something personal and you inject your vibe and your identity into it. And that’s what my label’s about. It’s about a 31 year old guy, raised and born in Paris, skateboarding, listening to Rick Ross or Metallica or whatever. Ed Banger is a product of this, and I am this person. Yes, I’m this person because it’s my label, but I’m not the only person like this. I think I’m representative of a lot of 30 year-old guys you know. But this is it, I hope my label is contemporary and modern in 2007. And I hope I will be smart enough to evolve, so next year, I hope, I will be doing something different.
Though there is a sound that resonates… I think it’s an accident. It’s just the evolution of the sound. For example Justice, they’re noisy and cut-up with the breakdowns and all this. Maybe five years ago everyone was really into disco, filtered and 4/4 you know? Now perhaps they are more into scuzzy sounds and ready to listen to cut-up stuff.
So it’s all about growing organically? Of course, organically and naturally. I will not follow any trends or whatever. I do not care about being hype or being number one. All I want to do is have fun and this is the most important for me. Still making enough money to be able to pay for the next crazy stuff we’re gonna do. Like use nice sleeves, travel, spend some money on a kid who will sell only a thousand records but I don’t care you know. This is what I want to do.
That includes throwing your notorious parties? Yes, and I’m glad people are talking more and more about our parties. We’ve been doing it for quite a while now and it’s quite good when journalists and photographers are coming over and checking them out. In our parties, we like Red Bull, we like beer, we like heavy metal, we like hip hop and we like Underground Resistance and we like to stage dive and we like glowsticks, you know? And finally we are showing that you can stage dive with glowsticks. It’s not like Yin and Yang. Ed Banger is showing that parties are all about freedom and doing crazy stuff. I sweat a lot on stage when we are doing our parties and I’m glad the kids are following us.
“French people are always waiting until after some English guy says ‘Oh, man, this is hot’ and then they’re like ‘Oh, okay.’ Even today, some French people wrote me an email in English. They don’t even know that we are from Paris.”
People are calling this the second French renaissance. Do you think there are any similarities between the French Touch and the movement we’re seeing at the moment? The only similarity there could be is of geography, but in the sense of dynamic or style, it’s completely different. You know, first, the artists of the French touch were older. Motorbass, Etienne De Crecy, Bob Sinclar. Daft Punk were the young ones but all the others, they were 27 or 28. Now, all the kids I’m talking about in the new scene, they’re like 22, they are 18, some of them are 16. So they are really, really young and this is something important and different I think. So the difference is the timing and the music culture. Then the references were the 80s, disco and funky stuff. Now it’s more about the 90s, the electronic scene, the hip hop scene which is even late 90s like Jay-Z and Puff Daddy etc. And now it’s a mix of this culture and for these reasons I say it’s a different thing happening.
But, similar to the French Touch, you blew up outside of France first? It’s always like this. French people are always waiting until after some English guy says “Oh, man, this is hot” and then they’re like “Oh, okay.” Even today, some French people wrote me an email in English. They don’t even know that we are from Paris.
Does that bother you? No, I’m not annoyed about this kind of thing, I’m more sad for French culture. I’m sad that a French electronic magazine, when we are doing the cover in the US, even in Norway or whatever and then French people 6 months or one year later say “Oh, yes we could put you on the cover.” Okay, it’s always nice to be on the cover of a magazine, but it’s crazy that you have us under your nose and you don’t even see us, but anyway… Once again, this is the advice to all the kids who are asking me, be patient. If it has to arrive it will arrive, just be patient.
What do you think it is about French culture that it takes so long to pick up talent that’s right under it’s nose? Honestly I have no idea? I’m not so good at socio-political analysis.
INTRODUCING: ED BANGER Uffie:The modern day Roxanne Shante. You probably know her as she’s been on more magazine covers than Mark Morrison’s had comebacks. Highlights: ‘Ready To Uff’ and her stab at the Hollertronix forum on ‘Dismissed’. Killer. Feadz:Beatsmith extraordinare. Highlights: ‘Ed Wrecker’ on the ‘Ed Vol II’ compilation out now and ‘Go On Beef’ [Bpitch Ctrl]. SebastiAn:The boy wonder. Highlights: Annie ‘Without You’ {SebastiAn Remix} [679] and ‘Ross Ross Ross EP’ [Ed Banger] Justice:What can be said about these misfits? ‘Waters Of Nazareth’ and more importantly the flip ‘Let There Be Light’ rose the bar for electronic music in ’05. Highlights:‘Never Alone’, ‘Let There Be Light’ [Ed Banger], ‘D.A.N.C.E’ [Ed Banger] DJ Mehdi:Electronic producer with a hip hop lean. Highlights: ‘Lucky Boy At Night’ [Ed Banger] plus a pretty tidy Cassius remix (‘1999’) back in the day. Other Ed Banger cohorts:Vicarious Bliss, Mr Flash, Krazy Baldhead
BUSY P TOP 7 1. Kid SiSter:‘Damn Girl’[Fool’s Gold] A-Trak’s new label. Full support with Kid Sister dropping the rhymes, I love it. 2. BrodinSKi:‘Bad Runner’[Mental Groove] French new wonder kid. Big room anthem baby, rave a-go-go. 3. timBaland:‘Miscommunication’[Interscope] The hit from the album. Timbo is the master, but those guys need an A&R, the album is not as good as it should be. 4. nil:‘Comme Un Printemps’[Gourmets Recordings] French AFX is ready to blow... stay tuned. 5. outlineS:‘Our Lives Are Too Short’[Sonar Kollektiv] Amazing album from those Parisians wiggas. Album of the summer 2007! 6. mr oizo:‘Transexual’[Ed Banger] He went to East Germany to become a woman, welcome Ms Oiza! 7. KlaxonS:‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ {Soulwax Remix}[Rinse] New Rave kids versus New Beat Belgian waffles, biggest tune of the moment.
Well, the ‘Ed Vol 2’ compilation’s out now. You’ll also be able to get your mitts on DJ Mehdi’s re-fixed and re-released ‘Lucky Boy At Night’, not to mention Justice’s ‘D.A.N.C.E’ in May. The rest of April is a touch quiet in the UK for the Ed Banger crew but they’ll be back in May in force. www.EDbàNgERREcORDs.cOM www.MyspàcE.cOM/EDbàNgERREcORDs www.MyspàcE.cOM/bUsyp
So Me: Art Director
ON PEDRO: Well Pedro is the quiet guy who takes his time. Well, he’s not that quiet, you know he’s busy and everything, but he likes to take time in everything. Sometimes people ask “Ah, do you think sometime we could play in that club” and Pedro would be like “Let things come.” But he’s right. The thing about major labels is that they’ve locked their hearts and just want to make money right after they’ve signed someone. But any artist needs time to build up and become better and better. So he tries to do it in the same way perhaps that it used to be done in the past. You know many artists from the 70s and the 80s, they weren’t very big from the beginning. So he tries to make the people grow and I think that’s his strength.
ON ED BANGER: I think we are some lucky guys because we have the freedom to do whatever we want. As I said, we are given time to do the things and we take that time to do the things like. There is no-one behind us kicking our butts saying ‘no you cannot do it this way, you have to do it this way’. For example, we’ve done 15 EPs and we’ve been doing the covers with the budget of an album each time. You know with a cover, using many colours or using an extra cover is very expensive. And people in the big labels they don’t want you to do this, they just want you to use black and white covers for EPs or something like that. But we pay attention to the cover and we pay attention to the artist we want to do things our way as if it’s not serious. Although a record may not sell many units, or it’s expensive, I don’t really think we care about that. We just try and do the things as good as we can.