Ed Banger and escaping EDM: Real talk with Busy P
It’s oddly fitting that as I reach Frenchman Pedro Winter – or simply Busy P to the club community – to chat about the 10th year celebrations for his scene-defining record label Ed Banger and its accompanying anniversary compilation, Ed Rec Vol. X, the label boss and DJ is preparing a set for a collection of revellers barely as old as his imprint.
“I’m in Spain, under the sun on a balcony. I’m playing at the Sonar Kids festival – you know Sonar in Barcelona but this is one they’re doing for the kids so it’s going to be fun,” Winter laughs. Busy P fans will recall the Frenchman’s penchant for DJ dress-ups, having performed for his youngest fans on previous occasions in colourful dragon get-ups and his set at Sonar Kids saw Winter decked out in a big blue dinosaur outfit. “I’ve done it before and I always say that it’s not about playing stupid or shitty music – I’ll play what I’d play for their parents, just maybe a little less loud. And I don’t think I’ll play Gesaffelstein for the kids.”
Having a personal history with young talent (from his hook up with a young Daft Punk to championing fresh-faced talent through Ed Banger like Boston Bun, Feadz and Uffie) I posed to Winter whether he expected to see any of the pint-sized ravelings from his Sonar Kids gig knocking on his door in a few years time with demos of their own.
”[Whenever I DJ] I know that I’m going to be playing to some kids who are going to be the next big stars, you know?” Winter says of the next generation. “We have a lot of laughs at Brodinski sometimes because we have pictures of him in the crowd as we’re DJing in France and he’s a little 14-year-old kid. And Canblaster too. I think he’s a genius and so talented and he was in the Ed Banger crowds a few years back.”
As Winter sees it the rapidly moving cycle that’s presenting these increasingly young talents to the dance music world is driven by the exposure to technology that new artists are afforded in 2013. “If you think about it, back then we didn’t have everything that they do now. It’s incredible how creative you can be now; you can produce a track on the train home and then put it out online. There is no limit to it.
“Ableton Live has changed the music game…for good and for bad, though,” the Ed Banger chief muses. “You can argue for both sides. There’s a half that is genius and half that is boring making copycat, not interesting music.”
Having spearheaded the emergence of the French electro sound at the perch of his Ed Banger stable, Winter’s words on an artist’s path to developing an individual sound come off as particularly sage advice.
“This is what the kids need to know; of course, we all have the same tools but you can’t get that genius touch in one afternoon and become Canblaster, Siriusmo or Cashmere Cat just by clicking your fingers,” Winter says. “It’s important that you find your style and identity – don’t make Justice music or take a Kenny Dope beat. You want to sound like Skream? Anybody can do that now but you can’t have the same genius that Skream has. Everybody wants things to be instant: instant success, instant action and instant love. It’s a social problem.”
Fitting in with Winter’s rejection for instant gratification, Ed Rec Vol. X – despite its title – appears as the fourth entry in the Ed Banger compilation series and comes five years after the label’s third instalment from 2008, Ed Rec Vol. 3. As well as increased competition from his peers, Winter reveals his reasons for slowing the Ed Banger output.
“All the other labels were doing a yearly compilation and I also didn’t want to force our artists to have to make new music for a compilation every year,” he says. “I’d prefer them to work on their own albums and art. Another thing, and this is our big secret, we’re not very good with timing at Ed Banger,” Winter says with a chuckle. “If we had to do one compilation every year I know we would always be late.”
Contained within the aptly So-Me-designed cover fold of Ed Rec Vol. X are 14 new tunes from some of Ed Banger’s brightest talents including new Justice, Breakbot, Mr. Oizo and SebastiAn tunes. Winter explains that the brief for these artists was to show off the “music for tomorrow”. It’s a stance which Winter has ardently adopted in retaliation almost to the booming EDM scene.
“I don’t want Ed Banger to be a part of the EDM circus,” he admits. “I don’t know their music but I listen to it once and I think there is something wrong with it…it is a joke. I cannot speak for Daft Punk because I don’t work with them but [I think] putting out this new album, Random Access Memories, is a big ‘fuck off’ to this EDM scene in the U.S. It’s saying ‘what is wrong with you…filing a stadium and playing shitty music while electronic music was born in America, in Chicago and Detroit. Where is your memory?’
“Daft Punk did it with Homework and now they are coming back and they’re saying, ‘We are not a part of this’. They’re going back to the roots, bringing life back to the music. I can only salute them for this.”
Having waxed about his former charges Daft Punk and the 10th anniversary of Ed Banger, Winter indulges in some more nostalgia, when recounting some of his favourite moments from the last decade with Ed Rec.
“Of course I’m nostalgic about it,” he says frankly. “I’m at a perfect point to look at the evolution of this industry and our position in it. 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 others’ music’. I miss that because now it’s become another game and it’s already different. 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.”
Speaking of his late friend and collaborator, Winter says that Mehdi’s Lucky Boy LP still stands as his favourite release on the Ed Banger imprint from the last decade.
“You know the reason why I choose that record,” Winter says, referring to Mehdi’s death in 2011. “But musically it’s so important to me, too. Mehdi and myself were always stitching together – we were the ying and the yang. He brought this incredible hip hop influence to dance music which I loved. It came out around the time that everything changed for Ed Banger. 2007 is that year that everybody remembers Never Be Alone by Justice and all of the DJs playing together like Ed Banger Sound System. We were a bit like a band on stage and it became more like a way of life than a label.”
Ed Rec Vol X is out now.