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Before Busy P was Busy P, Pedro Winter was a kid who would skate the streets of Paris, where he was born. He first picked up a skateboard in 1989 and even after his interests and passions had drifted elsewhere, one core skate tenet stuck with him: No matter how many times you fall, the important thing is to get back up and go again. By the time 1995 came, Busy P had gravitated to DJing, with the same mantra guiding what he did, playing oddball sets that clashed rap and electronic music in a way that many considered to be weird. He favored bands like Primus, Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but had also fallen in love with techno in 1992 at a warehouse rave outside of Paris.
After discovering Laurent Garnier’s “Wake Up” party at the renowned Rex Club in the heart of Paris, Busy P started to organize his own dance nights and became part of a creative circle of friends that included artists like Motorbass, Cassius, Etienne de Crecy or Daft Punk – the 18th arrondissement gang that would eventually become global superstars of the “French Touch” movement. As well as his rise as a DJ, Busy P became the manager of Daft Punk in 1996, helping guide the two human robots for twelve years on their voyage from local heroes to, as he put it in the Carhartt WIP 25th anniversary archive book, “the biggest rock stars in the galaxy.”
In 2002, he launched the agency Headbangers Entertainment, where he managed an array of artists, including Cassius and DJ Mehdi. A year later, he launched another venture: Ed Banger Records, the seminal French label that has housed the likes of Uffie, Mr. Oizo, Breakbot, Feadz and Myd. Known for its pop-influenced electronic sound, which incorporates elements of hip hop, disco, and electro, the label has constantly pushed genre boundaries. It has been responsible for globally renowned acts like Jus†ice, capable of captivating audiences at large-scale festivals with their unique blend of electronic stoner rock, as well as more esoteric yet revered artists, like SebastiAn, the producer, DJ, remixer and noted soundtrack composer, who has worked with the Beastie Boys and Frank Ocean.
For Carhartt WIP Radio, Busy P conducted a mix that, in his words, explores the “darker side of the label.” It features under-the-radar gems by producers like Krazy Baldhead, Mr Flash, Zongamin and Borussia, as well as lesser-known tunes by iconic acts like Mr Oizo, Cassius and DJ Mehdi. In totality, it’s a one-hour trip that delves deep into the multifaceted sound of a label that has often wrongly been boxed into a claustrophobically noisy, funky French Touch corner. As Busy P is also the subject of our next RELEVANT PARTIES podcast, launching on Wednesday 19th of May, we only spoke briefly with him, discussing upcoming Ed Banger releases, our uncertain pandemic times, the break-up of Daft Punk, and some things he’s always wanted to do, but hasn’t done yet.
Hey Pedro, how are you coping in these uncertain times and how has the pandemic impacted the record label?
Busy P: I am doing ok, but of course, we are all impacted by this situation. Personally and professionally. But at Ed Banger we try to see the positive side of things. We are also very lucky as only a few of our artists have been tested positive, but healed quickly and have no problems. Since we are not touring anymore, most of the artists are stuck in their studio, working on new music. That is the positive side of things. So we can't complain and the only thing we can do is to continue to create and help where it’s needed.
Ed Banger will soon release the debut album of French DJ, musician, and producer Myd. What makes his music special and how does he and his art align with the world of Ed Banger?
Busy P: We signed Myd a couple of years ago and released a bunch of great records by him. So now, releasing his first album is very exciting to us. Since the beginning my goal for Ed Banger was to release debut records of young artists, because I love to write stories and to put the first to break ground. For me, the first album of a young urban artist is an achievement. Also, Myd brought some fresh air to the label, which is important too. The label is 18 years old now and having a rookie with us is essential, because he is bringing a new crowd, sharing a new story, and is putting out a new sound. It is definitely more pop, but there is still this love for electronic music and club music that brings us all together at Ed Banger.
What's your view on the value of music today?
Busy P: The value of music? That’s a very philosophical question. I never thought about music as valuable in the way of linking it to money, you know. Of course, I am a businessman because I have to run a label and I have to help artists to create and live from their creation. But at the end of the day, we never release music to be number one or to sell a big number of records. Of course, we want to spread our music as much as possible – and we are famous for that – but all we care about and all that matters is the whole process of creating a record, sharing it, and creating things around it like music videos, live shows and so on. To me, that’s the value of the whole mission. That is why I love art in general, because what we are doing doesn’t make sense at the end. We are doing it for ourselves, but in a very generous way. So, that’s definitely something you can define, and that is why talking about the value of music is not my thing. Sorry for this philosophical little moment.
What are your feelings about the break-up of Daft Punk?
Busy P: I felt like you like most of the people: I was heartbroken. I wrote a little message on Instagram about that. You know, I spent like 15 years of my life with them. They are very important to me. I love them as human beings and as robots. And it's a pity for French electronic music and for French culture. But again, let's be positive and thank them for what they've done and what they have achieved. During the last 25 years, they gave the world so much and they opened the doors for French music globally. I only smile when I'm speaking about them. And I am very, very lucky to have worked with them. Now there is another new chapter to write for French musicians. Of course, there will be only one Daft Punk, but I think the energy they gave to the whole French electronic scene will continue for many years.
What do you think the sound of tomorrow will be?
Busy P: That’s an exciting and interesting question, because it has been asked to me every year, you know. I'm 46 years old and I’ve witnessed a lot. The hip hop evolution from the 80s and 90s. Then electronic music arrived in the late 80s and early 90s strongly and, at the beginning, both styles were seen as a trend or something that will not last long. Now, 30 years later, they are globally stronger than ever. Both genres are still breaking the charts and keep reinventing themselves. So, the musical future develops over years, and the mixing of genres has kept me excited for the past 20 years. And it will still be the same in the future. Artists like American producer Jimmy Edgar – who comes from the electronic scene of Detroit and then went into rap music and invented a new kind of hip hop – will always come up. His grooves are just insane, from another planet. I love this kind of mixture and I think there are many more to come.
The pandemic had a massive negative impact on the global music scene. How do you see its future and what will change in your opinion?
Busy P: We’re recording this interview today. And tonight, our president will announce the measures for the third wave of Covid-19 in France. So, talking about the future is a bit tricky right now to be honest. We might be locked down again for the third time in France. Most of our summer festivals are shutting down one after another, and clubs have been struggling for more than a year now. I want to try to be an optimist, but I believe 2021 will be as tough as 2020. Certainly, in France. At the moment we can’t travel outside of Paris, so for us at Ed Banger, concerts and events are not on the map before autumn or even winter 2021. And talking about beyond that, like 2022 and how things will change, I have no clue. Of course, we are all dreaming of going back into clubs, into sweaty, dark, loud places. This is where we come from. But thinking it will be exactly the same is a bit naïve. I think that the pandemic has also changed a lot of stuff in our heads and honestly, I don’t know what will come. But I want to be positive because this is what we have to do as artists and music people. But it will be tough for a few more months, I think.
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt WIP Radio Ed Banger show?
Busy P: I chose the tracks that I love. You know, if people are asking me to do a 100% Ed Banger music mix, most of the time they are expecting a best-of show with SebastiAn, Mr. Ozio or Justice. I like to propose the opposite and show the darker side of the label. A side people don't know. We’ve released hundreds of records and I'm proud of all of them, but some of them, of course, are more under the radar. But that's life, you know, some artists are shining and some are more on the dark side. So, my Carhartt WIP Radio show is about sharing what people don’t know about Ed Banger. I hope people will discover a lot of styles and genres they did not imagine on my label. People sometimes think Ed Banger is all about a noisy, funky sound and that we are stuck in the French Touch era. Don’t get me wrong, I like that sound and that time and I'm proud of it. But sometimes you have to dig a little bit more into our label to see the whole scope of it. My mix is about that and I hope the world will enjoy it.
What’s something you’ve learned through music that has helped you in life?
Busy P: I've learned to be patient. Even though we are living in a fast world where everything is accessible, everything is immediate. Patience is the key of a successful and happy life.
What is your idea of happiness?
Busy P: Oh, my idea of happiness is Ed Banger. I feel so lucky and happy every morning. I'm waking up and going back to bed with a smile. We work with exciting artists and have the freedom of doing what we want to do and when we want to do it. So, I find happiness in my music passion and running my own label.
My idea of happiness is Ed Banger. I feel so lucky and happy every morning. I'm waking up and going back to bed with a smile!
When do you feel most at peace?
Busy P: I'm happy now right now. Right now, I am in the basement studio of Ed Banger records and I'm pretty comfortable speaking to you guys. The light is chill. The temperature is pretty cool. And I love sharing my musical life with you.
What superpower would you like to have?
Busy P: There are a lot of superpowers I would love to have. Maybe to be able to be a professional skateboarder for a few days. You know, to fly on a ramp. I'd love to play piano. This is definitely a superpower I would love to have. So yeah, skateboarding and playing piano.
Finally, can you name us some things that you haven't done yet, but you always wanted to?
Busy P: Well, there is plenty of stuff. I want to travel to Tahiti. And something I'd love to do is go to Canada during winter and ride with 20 dogs, pulling me on my little snowboard! This I really would love to do! And I would love to spend some time in the studio with Rick Rubin.