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“A mess onstage and in the crowd”: The glory days of French electro and Ed Banger

This article is part of a new series of Music Tour City Guides put together with our partner Miller – for more inside info on clubbing in Paris, visit the Miller Music Tour’s Hub.

“Of course I’m nostalgic about [the past],” Pedro Winter AKA Busy P told inthemix last year, while on the promo trail for Ed Banger Records’ 10th anniversary tour, taking in major international festivals like Hard Summer in LA, Sónar Festival in Barcelona and Berlin Festival.

Winter’s contribution to the French dance music community is one that goes way back: an old-school Parisian raver in the 90s, he eventually took on the life-changing gig of managing none other than Daft Punk for over a decade; helping to steer the duo’s legendary mystique to the point where they unveiled their iconic live show at Coachella in 2006. By the time Winter stepped down from that role the following year, though, the other project he’d been toiling away at for several years, electro label Ed Banger Records, had also picked up speed.

“I often speak about the time around 2006/2007 when everyone was discovering the sound… You had the indie kids, the little cute girls, the hip hop heads and the techno heads all realise, ‘Okay, maybe we can listen to each other’s music’… I’m nostalgic for the time where it was DJ Mehdi, SebastiAn, Justice and myself all together playing CDs and it was a mess on stage and a mess in the crowd. We lost Mehdi and things have changed, but I’m really happy with the crowds and the smiles that I’ll always remember from then.”

Ed Banger was at the dizzying heights of its noisy, feedback-drenched powers; taking the next wave of unmistakably French electronic music to a mass audience. The label has played host to a cast of artists as brash, garish and colourful as Winter himself: the aforementioned DJ Mehdi and SebastiAn, fellow scene veterans like Mr Oizo, early staples like Feadz and Vicarious Bliss, as well as recent recruits like Breakbot, and their resident front woman in the form of brash US export Uffie.

It was Justice, though, who were at the top of the heap in 2007, staking their claim as one of the biggest electronic acts in the world: two scruffy Parisians with a penchant for leather jackets who weren’t afraid to wholeheartedly embrace rock star bravado, they toured the world with a grandiose live show featuring their trademark lit-up cross as a backdrop.

In hindsight, all the Daft Punk comparisons bandied about seem rather quaint, but at the time, Justice’s popularity and influence meant they were inevitable. Justice’s success came off the back of their huge † album, featuring the iconic crossover anthem D.A.N.C.E; its sing-song vocal hook echoed through the world’s clubs to the point of saturation, following on the heels of their equally anthemic remix of Simian’s We Are Your Friends (a track which has found itself gracing mainstages recently, thanks to an EDM rerub). The hype reached its zenith locally on the Parklife tour in late 2007, where Justice and Busy P played to crowds of tens of thousands across the country.

Busy P and his crew put the rock’n’roll back into electronic music, with a definitive sound of grinding guitar riffs, fed through a synthesiser and stuttering repeatedly, thrown against a wall of endlessly looping feedback, with a heavy dose of hip hop swagger. But the rock influence went deeper than bringing just guitars back to electro: it was a part of the Ed Banger aesthetic.

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