It all started in 2003 when Ed Banger Records was just a new idea for DJ and Daft Punk manager, Busy P. Despite his close ties with the most famous robots in the world, people weren't interested. “If I called someone on behalf of Daft Punk, then people were opening doors right away,” he told Rolling Stone. “But when I was calling for Ed Banger, no one would even return my call.”
Now, Ed Banger is 18 years old. Forever revered for its cult status, the record label spawned some of the most innovative, genre-bending music — and it arrived when electronic music was largely humourless. In 2004, minimal techno filled nightclubs and boomed clinically through crackly speakers at every party but there was something missing. And Busy P knew exactly what that was. "For me, it was time to bring back fun."
Everything about the record label - its effervescent roster, raucous energy and exuberant shows - pulsed with fun. This joy became infectious and just like a pandemic it eventually swept across France before finding its way into every corner of the world.
To celebrate Ed Banger's enduring influence, we chart the history of the seminal record label from Justice's Cross to Uffie's wry rapping and everything in between.
Busy P signs his first artist in 2003
Busy P started the label with his first artist, a then-unknown Mr Flash. Rader Rider is a psychedelic amalgam of synths, live percussion and abstract hip-hop. While it was commercially unsuccessful, it established the ethos of the label, one where rules would be broken.
Busy met Justice that very same year
Justice, made up of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay, met Busy through friends. At a chance dinner, the three discussed music and the duo would eventually sign with Ed Banger in 2003. Never Be Alone, their remix of English rock band, Simian, which was initially created for a Paris radio station remix contest became a cornerstone for modern French electro.
When "they [first] played me Never Be Alone, I was blown away," Busy remembers. "I heard something very fresh, very groovy." Blogs quickly picked it up and it eventually made it way into clubs. This was the label's second release but its first big win.
2005 was all about SebastiAn
Despite Busy P looking for more hip-hop leaning electro, SebastiAn's initial offer of hip-hop beats didn't sway him. But after the aloof French producer laid down some electronic beats, he was all in. He dropped two EPs on the label that year, H.A.L. and Smoking Kills (?).
Uffie changed the game in 2006
The release of Pop The Glock, a tongue-in-cheek, pop-meets-rap iconoclastic hit was the world's first introduction to Uffie. Fashion student turn rapper, Uffie was the antithesis to minimal techno. Oozing sex appeal, her vocoder-treated vocals meshed against the disjointed beat, thanks to her then-boyfriend and soon-to-be Ed Banger Records signee, Feadz. Uffie remains to be one of the more polarising and celebrated figures of the label. Uffie was an exuberant mix of all the traits we love in femme popstars today. "There is the chirpy British vocals of SOPHIE, the rambunctious and highly vocoderised white girl rap of Ke$ha, the hip samples and collaborators like Giorgio Moroder and Pharrell," Jake Cleland wrote for Vice in 2018.
Justice releases Cross in 2007
Ed Banger's bubbling underground success was bound to explode and when 2007 rolled around the label's most successful album emerged. Justice's debut album, Cross, arrived with an irreverent thump. Doling out menacing synths, child choirs and thundering bass, this record electrified an entire generation of electronic music fans. And what followed was a worldwide craze. D.A.N.C.E. was nominated for Video Of The Year at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. At the European Music Awards, Justice was named the Best French Act of the Year and received the Video Star award. They were also nominated for Best Dance Recording for D.A.N.C.E. and Best Electronic/Dance Album at the 50th Grammy Awards.
DJ Mehdi brought something special to the label
While he may have been a little overshadowed by Justice's mammoth success, DJ Mehdi released one of Ed Banger's best releases in 2007, with his Lucky Girl EP. The remix EP, a play on his 2006 release, Lucky Boy, was a considered extrapolation of his record. Lucky Boy (Outlines Remix) brings his then-wife and famed graffiti artist, Fafi's powdery vocals into focus on a cascading piano melody. Then there's Signatune, which received the Thomas Bangalter (one half of Daft Punk) touch. It's euphoric and simultaneously disjointed, with Bangalter adding a 4/4 kick that pushes the song into overdrive.
Sadly, in 2011, Mehdi died in an accident at his home at the age of 34. Both his father and uncle had been DJs and Mehdi's unwavering optimism and sparkle defined Ed Banger when he was alive, but became the legacy of the record after his death.
Feadz released The T.U.F.F. EP
Uffie producer Feadz churned out his own slew of hits on The T.U.F.F. EP with a guest feature from German techno powerhouse, Boys Noize. Filled with digital glitches, steady pulses and his inimitable hip-hop twist, Feadz is known for sending listeners on a high-octane thrill ride, and that's exactly what he did here.
Breakbot injected some much needed romance
Breakbot's 2012 album, By Your Side was released on a chocolate record that melted when played. Smooth, silky, and romantic, just like chocolate his breakout hit, Baby I'm Yours is a sweet treat that remains as pertinent today as it was when released 10 years ago.
Mr Oizo unleashed Lamb's Anger
If Uffie is the ubiquitous pop centre of the record label and DJ Mehdi is the elegance, Mr Oizo has to be the eccentric genius. The Frenchman and his Jim Henson-created puppet, Flat Eric created dynamic and unpredictable hit after hit. Though that's what made Oizo such an intoxicating producer. Visceral and unapologetic, Oizo jumps from swanky piano lines into sunkissed house music, and just as quickly into abrasive techno textures. At just 2:51 seconds long, Positif encapsulates this frenzied and irreverent frankness. It's probably his greatest work yet.
Mr Oizo - Hand In The Fire feat. Charli XCX (2016)
To see an artist inspired by Uffie join Mr Oizo, who worked on her 2010 record, Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans, is the kind of thing Ed Banger fans hoped to see. Charli XCX's feature on Mr Oizo's Hand In The Fire was the precursor to Uffie's guest feature on the pop progenitor's third mixtape, Number 1 Angel.