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French Kicks 

Ed Banger keeps Paris churning

Wednesday, Mar 21 2007
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Dance music is going through a boom period. Literally. Labels like Kitsuné, DFA, and Institubes are giving clubbers and DJs more crank for their currency with a brand of track-making that emphasizes gnarly textures, confrontational attitude, boisterous beats, and thrusting lewdness that borrows from rock's more decadent descendents.

Near the forefront of this phenomenon is the Paris-based Ed Banger Records. Led by Pedro Winter, a former road manager and permanent support DJ for Daft Punk, Ed Banger boasts a varied roster united by its desire to help you get your groove on — in a most rambunctious manner. Oddly enough, Winter — who also DJs and records under the name Busy P — claims he had no "proper business plan" for Ed Banger; he got into the wax-peddling game in 2002 simply to help young artists and to have fun. Sometimes playing it by ear can succeed in the perilous music business.

While the last few years have seen minimal techno rise to prominence in Europe (though not so much in America), a backlash against it appears to be gaining momentum. Ed Banger can be viewed as a reaction to minimal's ascendance, although Winter claims this wasn't intentional. Clubbers seem to be craving more bang, noise, and personality in their dance music now, and Ed Banger's artists satisfy those needs. It makes sense that the rabid party animals at Vice Records are licensing the Ed Recs Vol. 1 compilation for U.S. consumption.

"Minimal music can be really good sometimes," Winter admits. "But [over] seven hours, it's a bit boring. I think Ed Banger Records manages to [attract] the club kids, the pop Lolitas, and the breakdance b-boys. I'm happy to be able to play hard techno, crunk joints, and songs that make girls cry."

Ed Banger and a host of other French imprints have been doing just that and more in the past couple of years. Winter praises competitors like Institubes, Kitsuné, and Rise, but immodestly claims that, "I'm glad at Ed Banger to have the most interesting artists, but I wish I could have signed those Frenchie newcomers like Kavinsky or Surkin."

Ed Banger's basic A&R philosophy is rooted in Winter's eclectic tastes. "I grew up with all kinds of music," he says. "The three words I like when I think about music are "blood, sweat, and tears'! Ed Banger Records is about that."

Providing those ingredients is a libido-stoking cast that includes Justice, Uffie, Krazy Baldhead, DJ Mehdi, and SebastiAn. You can hear them and others on Ed Recs Vol. 1. Uffie — a Paris-based Miami diva with a foxy flow on the mike — is perhaps EB's biggest potential star. Her charmingly askew, taunting raps and ramshackle electro (produced by Feadz and Mr. Oizo) cause tumescence and lubrication in all who hear them, like a vocoder-abusing European Mu. "Boys call me when they feel freaky-hot," she defiantly coos on "Pop the Glock," a sinuous, minimalist electro-pop charmer. The wild card in the collection is Vicarious Bliss' "Theme From Vicarious Bliss," which sounds like breezy TV theme-show music circa 1978 or Ariel Pink with higher production values. Justice's "Waters of Nazareth" is probably the definitive EB track: filthy, torqued electro disco that'll give you ear cancer after a half-dozen listens.

As for Winter's strategy for this North American tour, it's not exactly highbrow — his company is called Headbangers Entertainment but it is something of an energy policy.

"I have no strategy ... oh, yes, maybe one: Drink as much Red Bull as possible!" Sound advice for anyone planning to attend the Ed Banger tour, too.

About The Author

Dave Segal

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