Just over a decade has passed since French label Ed Banger dropped into the scene. With Daft Punk paving the way in the first wave of the “French Touch” sound years earlier, there was a new school of thought rising from streets of Paris. Taking from Rock, Hip Hop, and House Ed Banger pushed the sound further in new directions redrawing what the Daft boys had helped create but with a punk rock attitude. Both visually and audibly appealing, the label quickly placed itself into the social stream of all things hip and the masses took note. It’s been a long time coming and we are glad to say we were there for the ride.
Congratulations on the anniversary. It’s been just over 10 years now since Ed Banger was established, how are you feeling at this point in the success of your personal achievements as well as the label?
It’s a very interesting question. After managing Daft Punk between 1996 and 2008 it seems I wanted to create my own history. When I started to work with Daft Punk the band existed since 1993, so I was part of the adventure, but it was Thomas & Guy Manuel’s project. By creating Ed Banger records I launched my own musical adventure in a way. I learnt so much with Daft Punk, I owe them a lot. Celebrating this 10th anniversary is very emotional, I’m proud I managed to write a pretty nice musical chapter in my life. Daft Punk as chapter #1 and Ed Banger records as chapter #2 is pretty cool.
Since the introduction of the label, it feels that there have been 3 movements in the Ed Banger symphony. All sharing a unifying idea , but each having their unique characteristics. There were the early years with a very unique sound coming from the core members. Then there was a maturing of said sound with Oizo and a few others joining the roster. And now at the start of a new decade it has shifted once again with Breakbot and Boston Bun paving the way. Do you feel these changes came organically as the artists grew and the label added more producers outside of what seemed like a tight circle towards the beginning?
I’m glad you felt this way. Some boring journalists keep telling me “Ed Banger always bring the same sound”… It seems they did not listen to our music. As you said, there are lots of changes during those 10 years. Back in 2006 when I was telling Justice is making funky noise, luckily today we are proposing something different. That “banging” sound was fun and I don’t regret anything, but today I want to hear something different. Since the beginning I am trying to propose various styles, Sebastian and Krazy Baldhead are not the same, neither Feadz and Mr Flash, people always think about Justice and Mr Oizo, but Ed Banger records is 13 artists. When Mr Ozio joined us it shows Ed Banger records was not stuck in one sound or one direction. we gave him back the joy to make music and start to DJ. Recently people are waking up with the love for House music. Back in 1996 I used to run parties in Paris, it only mostly House and Garage from NYC. My resident DJs were Dj Gregory and Dimitri from Paris. I was listening to Dj Deep on the radio. When I signed Breakbot or Boston Bun I did not try to surf on a trend, it was just natural for me. House music is were it all started for me. It’s just a question of time and relationship. My main concern is to keep beeing free. If I want to release Hip Hop or Techno I can. The most important is to do it with passion and my balls. If today we are ten it means we succeed. The first artist I signed was Mr Flash, we released a “Dj Shadow” style of track at a time where everybody wanted to sign a new “daft punk”. 2003 was a weird time in France, too many fake Stardust or filtered disco bands… I always loved Dilla or Dj Premier, releasing Mr Flash “radar Rider” (instrumental hip hop) was my way to enter the label game, a back door…
Ed Banger has constantly stood out from many other labels as your visual aesthetic has always been just as much a part of the company as the music is. With So Me leading the art direction from the get go, the latest singles have a different look to them. Is this a part of the new age of Ed Banger?
SO ME is Ed Banger Records as much as me or DJ Mehdi. I always say So Me is the hand, I am the ears and Mehdi was the heart of the label. Today So Me is busy doing tons of different projects, music videos, photography, advertising, etc.. We are releasing a photo book on March 15th called “Travail Famille Party” (in englsih Work Family Party), 300 pages, 10 years thru his eyes. Today the new style is different because I wanted to try something minimal and tight. So Me is not responsible for this choice, but he will of course do some more stuff for us soon.
Over the years, some of the roster reached incredible levels of success with Justice and Mehdi being a couple. What do you think drew people to their sound? When you first heard their music did you immediately hear the potential they had?
When I met Justice the boys did not even know they will become musicians. They were bot graphic designers. I felt something but it will a lie if I told you I knew they will become big. I feel very lucky to attract this kind of artist to join me in the Ed Banger adventure. Justice was born n 2003 too, so this Ed Banger celebration is also the Justice anniversary. DJ Mehdi was my best friend and co-pilote in life. It was not only about music. This guy was just gold, no matter if we sold records or not, everything he was touching became love. Mehdi was the second artist I managed after Daft Punk in 1998. Spending all those years with him is the most important thing I keep in my musical life. His music brings people together. Hip Hop heads and electronic lovers, it was all about good energy.
Whatever happened with Coolcats and Club75?
Cool Cats was the little sister of Ed Banger, like the merchandising side of the label. Club 75 is now a proper adventure with my friends Michael Dupouy who is responsible for All Gone book, and So Me who is my partner in crime. It’s a Paris brand we want people to wear everywhere. Call it street wear or whatever, it’s just a way for us to have fun making tees and caps and all. Supreme, Huf, Patta, Wood Wood, those brands are representing their city so well, Pairs is missing such a brand, we’ll try to make it shine!
Ed Banger has always managed to stay relevant no matter the release or shift of sound in the dance / dj world. Do you feel this comes from your time managing and working closely with Daft Punk? Has there always been a “larger plan”?
I think it’s all about passion, I know it can sound boring but it’s so true. I am running Ed Banger records with the same excitement from 2003. Every release is important to me. It seems people are trusting us, only those who don’t know us can spit on us. I use all this adventure to make my dream come true. In 10 years I managed to ask Rick Rubin, Dj Premier, Erol Alkan, LFO or Kenny Dope to be part of our adventure. I feel very lucky and proud in the same way.
Turntable Lab has been a huge supporter since the early days and it’s been great to grow together over the years. Where do you see dance music (or independent labels/music retailers in general) heading in the next few years?
Oh la la ahahah I have no idea! and I prefer not to know! “Dance music” is my passion since 1992, it’s been amazing and sometimes scary… The future ? Rihanna is gonna wake up realizing she’s been making shit music for years, USA will discover Detroit and realize it’s all coming from there! The electronic scene is strong and with tons of various styles, we are the protectors of the alternative (I prefer than the word ‘underground”).
The label still focusing heavily on French producers. Have you been keeping up with the young generation coming up like Bambounou and Manare? Do you feel the French try to reinvent themselves often? For years, some of the most progressive sounds seem to come very natural from those parts.
Today we see a brand new range of new kids from France rocking. Bambounou is one of them. I also love Canblaster, Das Glow, Djedjotronic and Gesaffelstein. Those artists are not the sons of Daft Punk, in fact they don’t really care about the first wave of “french touch”. They love techno and are very influenced by the UK scene. Boston Bun who is my last signature is in love with american house music, he was too young when Daft Punk released Homework in 1997.
Ok last couple. With the anniversary upon us, I would assume there to be a retrospective in the works. If so, can you tell us more?
We are releasing TRAVAIL FAMILLE PARTY a photo book by SO ME. We are also releasing a compilation with brand new tracks from all the artists ED REC vol X. I’ll do a retrospective when I quit… 10 years is a chapter, not the end.
How is Mr. Oizo so weird?
Ahahaaha! He is weird enough to send me sex text messages or name tracks like “pee hurt” or “gay dentist”. He is a genius, I am very happy to be next to him in his music career.
Lastly, What can we expect from the label in the coming years?
Some more modern music.