The scruffy and skinny Winter (also known as Busy P when he feels like producing) looks like a car mechanic (posing as a b-boy), and talks the rock ‘tude talk, too. “We're making distortion musical,” he told The Guardian last month. “We're making noise funky.” In the latest edition of French magazine ‘Trax’, Winter pledges allegiance to the pleasures of dumb hedonism. “I do not understand the notion of intelligent music. Let’s leave that to Paris’s IRCAM and Ivan Smagghe.” Beavis and Butthead would approve, but beneath the shtick is a dance head who worships filter house guru Thomas Bangalter as his own personal messiah.
It’s a balancing act that has endeared Ed Banger to both club and live show audiences. With only a handful of singles and a few much-hyped collective parties, the Parisian label has managed to turn the notion of the techno DJ up on its pretentious head (the three Ed Banger Montréal apparitions over the past two years, during which everyone from Pedro and SebastiAn to Mehdi, Uffie and Justice tag-teamed on stage, are still vividly remembered to this date as a paragon of sonic orgy). Ed Banger has imposed its values - raucous excess, sonic distinctiveness, and a rock flair for performance – on the current electronic music scene like no other label in recent memory; and while the techno purists are reacting like somebody farted in their church, it has got kids with no hardcore allegiance to any pre-existing scene and sound into the clubs and pogo-ing on the dance floor, a cheeky turn of events that you could say is what Ed Banger’s vision of partying is all about.
It’s a sound typified by the stern SebastiAn, whose delicate manners offer a great contrast with his abrasive and syncopated takes on productions and remixes: both his ‘Smoking Kills (?)’ and ‘Ross Ross Ross’ EPs, as well as his numerous reworks for Mylo, Annie, Kelis or Cut Copy, amongst others, feel like they were spawned out of discarded ideas from the ‘Human After All’ sessions, albeit blown up to their full-on crazy distorted potential. If sixties rock brought us “showers of heavy metal” (that’s how Hendrix’s guitars sounded like live, apparently), you could say SebastiAn is the master of “heavy plastic”: laboriously filtered and effect-ridden digital patterns that will make grown-up men weep, soundsystems bleep, and everyone’s ear bleed. How often can you say that about deep house, eh?
Pedro Winter might have a vision for Ed Banger, but it’s not a narrow one: there’s room at the inn for customers other than just noise boys. Take Uffie, for example. To put it simply, she appears, at first, to be nothing more than a rougher and edgier Hillary, err, Duff (really, just take a listen to new vocoderized single ‘First Love’, which is reminiscent, both in sounds and themes, of the Californian songstress’s current hit). But Uffie, with her all-American insolence and just-out-of-adolescence naivety, is all the better for her shameless take on attitude-fueled dance music: with ‘Ready to Uff/Pop the Glock’, ‘Hot Chick/In Charge’ and the (unjustly ill-received) Mr Oizo-produced ‘Dismissed’, the Ed Banger crew was able to import the hot-babe-with-sound-masters-at-the-decks paradigm into the indie dance world. Uffie’s Mr Oizo, Justice or Feadz studio collaborations are mashing up pop’s very sense of gloss with b-girl stances and self-aggrandizing onstage rocking persona. In other words, she’s the label’s own Debbie Harry with hints of Lil’ Kim; it is only a matter of time until hormones-packed punk boys have her poster pinned up on their walls. And who care’s about her so-called white flow, really, when she oozes this much spunk, innocence and (un)calculated fun altogether?
Unsurprisingly, then, when Justice stopped by Chicago a few weeks ago, they allegedly dropped Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Bulls on Parade’ in the middle of their DJ set. Also, there is a much-rumored RATM remix by SebastiAn apparently floating around the hands of in-the-known and well-connected DJs. Then, Krazy Baldhead’s own ‘Strings of Death’ (off the label’s most recent compilation, which is a great way to start digging into its current and back catalogue if you’re a newcomer) is virtually a RATM track, stabbing and nervous basslines and belligerent attitude and all, albeit digitally spliced and diced on Ableton. This mixture of scenes and sounds is something traditionalists like Tom Morello would obviously disapprove of (which makes the current rock’n’dance collision so much more enjoyable), but for open-minded and dumb fun-oriented fashionistas and clubbers extraordinaire alike, you can count on Pedro Winter and his Ed Banger crew to deliver the time-honored head banging goods.
The “Ed Banger sound”: house music spliced together from roughly hewn chunks and skuzzy distortion.
The Ed Banger sound has been a real hit because it sounds so primeval and wild. At best, it sounded like The Stooges doing dance music.