France’s Ed Banger Records is one of the most influential labels in electronic music, but to hear founder and owner Pedro Winter (a.k.a. Busy P) tell it, its launch 10 years ago was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. “I was well into the French electronic scene and decided to set up this label,” says Winter, calling from Paris. “Quickly I was lucky to meet Justice and the big wave of French electronic music.”
Winter was managing Daft Punk at the time; his first signee to the new label was Gilles Bousquet, a.k.a. Mr. Flash. Ed Banger soon became famous for its Paris parties, featuring sets from Justice, DJ Mehdi and Busy P himself. “In ’97, [the Paris scene] got success with Daft Punk; after, that it slowed down a little bit, because we were a bit fed up with disco house,” he recalls. “People wanted to get crazy and dance, and Justice managed to bring a new energy, influenced by rock and metal from the Eighties.” Also helping define Ed Banger’s aesthetic from day one was art director Bertrand Lagros de Langeron, better known as So Me, a Parisian graphic designer/animator responsible for directing music videos for Justice, Kanye West, MGMT and more.
The trendsetting label’s rise hasn’t been without its share of tragedy. In 2011, DJ Mehdi died when the skylight of his Paris home collapsed during a party. “He was the union, he brought all the artists together,” says Winter of his late friend. “Losing him was something that almost made us consider stopping the label.”
Instead, the label has pressed on, recently putting out the compilation Ed Rec Vol. X, featuring tracks from Justice, SebastiAn and Mr. Oizo, as well as newer acts like Breakbot and Boston Bun. “I just asked all the artists to give me some music thinking of looking ahead and not back,” says Winter. “The idea wasn’t to do a best-of – the idea was ‘What are we capable of today? What’s Ed Banger in 2013?'” To celebrate the anniversary, they’ve also organized 10 shows around the world before the end of the year, with remaining dates in Los Angeles (as part of Hard Summer Music Festival), Tokyo, Mexico City, Montreal, New York City and Sydney, Australia.
“After 10 years, we have managed to be in a certain position with Ed Banger where we feel pretty free to go ahead and do what we want,” says Winter. “We are free to play house, electro or hip-hop and it still looks like us. We don’t stick to one genre.”
Winter feels that Ed Banger and the scene it represents has had a noticeable impact on what music sounds like today. “I met Pharrell in 2001 and asked him to do a remix of Daft Punk, so I can only be happy that 10 years later, they’re doing an actual song together [‘Get Lucky’],” he says. “I feel good Kanye is asking Gesaffelstein or Brodinski to produce some music [on Yeezus] rather than will.i.am or David Guetta.”
As for the Ed Banger boss himself, running the label hasn’t stopped him from making music. He recently set up a new studio in the north Paris neighborhood where the label’s headquarters are located and released the single “Still Busy” in June. “I think I would be bored if I was only a DJ or only a tour manager,” admits Winter. “What excites me is working on the label during the day, and at night taking a plane to DJ in Berlin or Barcelona and partying all night, playing the music we are producing.”