Ed Banger Records

Isaac Hewlings looks into the label that gives us Justice, Uffie, and Parisian Electronica.

For every genre that becomes mainstream, or influences the mainstream, there has to be an odder, less straightforward artistic force in the background. With the rise of hip-hop was the funk and blues inspired Herbie Hancock and the like, who ushered the way for the eminently talented and accessible Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash. Similarly, rock’n’roll – a genre that almost looks twee now, had its beginnings in the raucous, aggressively sexual music of Muddy Waters or Little Walter. So what to make of electro? This is a genre which is almost synonymous with House, and is the standard fare of chain pubs or clubs with names like ‘Life’ or ‘Streetlightz’. Clearly, this doesn’t do it justice, whether Fedde Le Grand is your thing or not, there is a great deal of other music which can respectably adopt the name ‘electro’. The most salient examples of this are the now iconic duo of Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay – otherwise known as Justice. Embodying the best of energetic, playful and explorative music adopting a position in the limelight, one is left to wonder where does their music and energy come from?

Step up, Ed Banger, a record label that more than any other harnessed the initial upsurge of interest in and output from, ‘electro’ producers; their early output consisting not only of the ubiquitous Justice, but SebastiAn, Uffie, and Mr.Oizo. This range of music encapsulates everything from the eminently danceable and accessible, to the crazy bleeps and mash-ups of Mr.Oizo known to most for his ‘Flat Beat’ track with the puppet, Flat Eric in the Levi’s ad of old. What makes Ed Banger more than an (admittedly, extremely good) run-of-the-mill record label, is their incredibly well coordinated graphics and artwork, courtesy of Bertrand Sommie, who is known as So Me. That bloody great cross that’s all over Justice gigs? Yeah, that’s him. With all the artists within the Ed Banger stable, So Me has created a particular look, along with the Ed Banger aesthetic in general. One’s of particular note are the cover artwork for SebastiAn (‘Ross Ross Ross’ EP), Uffie (‘Pop the Glock’ EP) and DJ Mehdi (‘Lucky Boy’ album). As for Ed Banger’s ‘look’ it seems to be taken from cartoons, doodling and generally by people who don’t know or care about the rules of ‘design’.

This brashness and energy has resulted in some of the best videos, as well as music, in the dance/electronica scene of late. A particularly fitting example of this is when the ‘We are Your Friends’ video beat Kanye West’s ‘Touch the Sky’ at the European MTV awards, memorably stating ‘MTV loses credibility if I don’t win’. He subsequently went on to work with Pedro Winter of Ed Banger. Other examples of So Me’s work includes Justice’s ‘D.A.N.C.E’ video – one of the most inventive music videos ever made.

So why should you be interested in them if you’re just not that interested by this odd, perhaps pretentious group of people? Well, aside for the above reasons, its always interesting to know where something came from – in this case the more mainstream of electro/house. For every artist that uses the kind of sound and look that is associated with electro – it’s likely a label like Ed Banger had something to do with it at the beginning. If you’ve seen Kid Cudi’s ‘Day and Night’ video, you’ve seen So Me’s work; and if the idea of a mainstream hip-hop influenced by Parisian boys with beards doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I can’t think what else will.

8 comments

  1. Technically, Mr. Oizo was NOT with Ed Banger when he did “Flat Beat”.
    Everyone needs to quit saying that. Let’s give credit where it’s due. The awesomeness of Mr. Oizo’s older work should NOT be attached to the Ed Banger label.

    By the way, here’s an ed banger blog:

    http://edbangus.blogspot.com

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  2. I included ‘Flat Beat’ by way of referencing a song that people would easily recognize, although I can see that it could be misleading in that respect.

    Do you not like his newer work then? I’d say ‘Half an Edit’ (which is fairly recent) is brilliant. However, I’m glad to see someone else likes this stuff as well though!

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  3. I don’t ever recall hearing a song called half an edit! The newest oizo stuff is great though such as “Positif”, “Cut Dick”, “Gay Dentists” or in my opinion the coolest song he has ever made “Steroids” (Mr. Oizo Remix). In no way to discredit your article, it was actually Pedro Winter that came up with the Justice gimmick of having leather jackets and crosses it was inspired by the organ riff in waters of nazareth, Pedro also came up with the robot theme for daft punk. Anyways its good you are raising awareness about So Me, his work is now being plagirised by countless other graphic designers.

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  4. I LOVE Mr. Oizo’s work. I think he is a true genius. The best recent piece of work from him is the “Pourriture EP” as well as the “Positif EP”

    He is in his own genre of true brilliance. I often feel he doesn’t belong with the Ed Banger crew. Especially considering he was first with Laurent Garnier’s label.

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  5. Kevin – I didn’t realise Pedro Winter came up with that, it’s a brilliant gimmick nonetheless. ‘Half an Edit’ can be found on various mixes, I’m fairly sure its something he produced rather than a mashup, whatever it is, its incredibly good!

    I agree Mr.Oizo sometimes doesn’t sit that comfortably with the rest of the Ed Banger stable, but do you think that his stuff is qualitatively better?

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  6. Oh yes. Much better. Mr. Oizo rides exists in his own state, which so many artists try to duplicate. His music is so utterly genius. It is hard to consume upon first listening to it. Most people hate it actually, but after closely listening to the particular instrumentation and the way he transcends genres in his tracks, you come to realize: this is truly brilliant.

    He never truly aims to conform with genres or whatever style is popular at the moment.

    The main piece of evidence regarding his brilliance has to be his Positif – EP. The title track , positif, is a a masterful track. Which combines hard electro and break, with rave. It borders on numerous genres, while staying true to his own style. The way he altercates the high rises and fades, along with the random interjection of vocals and scratch, is just truly brilliant.

    By the way, I know so much about Mr. Oizo because I am the main writer of the Ed Banger blog listed above. And I JUST wrote a remix article about a few of his tracks.

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  7. Half An Edit is actually a b-side on the Nazis EP. It’s just an edited version of Half A Scissor found on his Moustache (Half A Scissor) album. Have any of you by any chance got his promo stunt EP, with Pig and Tnust? I only have a 96k version of Pig, and a 320k of Lotus Suite Koln, but im missing TNUST!

    It’s the ONLY piece of Oizo material i’m missing !

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  8. I am also missing tnust, i assume u got the 96k version of pig from the mix my shoes have got the blues? There is also quite a lot of side projects under various different names:

    “Virtual General & Normal Moins Deux” (a duet with Ark) produced a solo track called “Bonjour Vous” as well as working together with Ark again, this time as “Déperissement Progressif”. “Déperissement Progressif” released a 4 track EP entitled “La Guerre Aux Trousses” on Karat records. They collaborated again as “Oizark” for a remix on Oizos “Analouge Worms Attack EP”. The original 10″ EP also features the rare tracks “The Dead Chair” and “Analog Worms Attack (Akapella)” who are both by solo Mr Oizo.

    He collaborated for one track with Jackson & his Computerband from Shefield label Warp records, for one track which was put on myspace but never released. The duet was called “Handycap” and the song was “Murphy”.

    He coproduced the track “La Tuerie” by “Sebastian Tellier” from his album “Politics”. It is would fit in perfectly to his moustache album.

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