Styles Q. and A.: Pedro Winter on Daft Punk and the Paris Party Scene He Defined

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Styles Q. and A.: Pedro Winter on Daft Punk and the Paris Party Scene He Defined

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Back in the early aughts, Ed Banger Records was the leading exporter of glitchy French electronic dance music and a Parisian cool-kid scene that orgiastically blended night life, fashion and art. Founded by the D.J. and musician Pedro Winter, the label helped turn acts like Justice, Uffie, Sebastian and Mr. Oizo into international figures.

Since his days as a teenage party promoter and, later, as Daft Punk’s manager, Mr. Winter has cut an unmistakable, lanky and shaggy-haired silhouette on the Parisian cultural landscape. He has released 12-inch singles, compilations and remixes under the alias Busy P, and D.J.ed at spaces as varied as Berghain, the behemoth club in Berlin, and Lot Radio, a dinky lounge in Brooklyn.

This month, Ed Banger put out “Ed Rec 100,” a compilation that commemorates the label’s 100th release and includes new tracks from every artist under its roof. After installing a promotional pinball machine in the storefront window of Collette, Mr. Winter spoke by telephone about the changes in the Parisian party scene, managing Daft Punk and the recent French election.

ED REC 100

Video by Ed Banger Records

You released “Genie” in February, your first single in five years. Why did you end your hiatus?

My main job is to work for my artists and work behind them. At the same time, I like to go into the studio and make music using my sampler and rhythm machine. It’s true that I’ve mostly been making club music, repetitive electronic stuff. But for this one, I wanted to be a bit more ambitious. Mayer Hawthorne was in Paris for his European tour and I played him a song I was working on. He went back to Los Angeles, wrote a love song and killed it.

The dance scene in the United States has moved away from underground music. Has the same happened in Paris?

In France, we resist pretty well to what we call the E.D.M. But the whole electronic music industry has been moved by that market. In Europe, electronic music has to be an alternative or a subculture. It has to be avant-garde or pushing the boundaries, rather than becoming a big pop market.

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Would you say Ed Banger’s music has changed over the last decade?

I would never regret anything we released back then, but today is another day. We were the label of the year in 2007, 2008, 2009, but trends are a cycle. The label is 14 years old now. It’s like a teenage human, where it’s a bit like an adult now.

You managed Daft Punk in your early 20s. How does it feel to see them thriving so many years later?

That’s amazing. I feel blessed to have worked close to them for 12 years. I owe them all of my life. They are geniuses. But also, on a personal level, it was important to prove to myself that I could create something myself.

Have you ever accidentally revealed their identities?

No, no, no. But it’s funny, especially in Paris, when people would see me at a concert or a party, they would understand Daft Punk was around because they recognized me.

Beyond the music, Ed Banger and “French Touch” have always been associated with a larger sense of Parisian style.

I think the link with the fashion and art world is that we have a common sense of aesthetic and love of image. The Justice boys did the music for Dior Homme; Sebastian is doing most of the music for Yves Saint Laurent. And me, I’ve been D.J.ing for Jeremy Scott for the last 10 years. I’m really respectful to the expression of contemporary art and fashion. Especially nowadays, we are living in a crazy world and art can make people think.

Dior Homme Spring Summer 2009 Menswear

Video by acquadellavita

With the recent French election, was there any urgency to address political issues?

We often get the question: “Are you political or not?” We never really speak loudly, but, in a way, I think we are reflecting our political position by doing what we are doing. D.J. Mehdi, who I was working with for more than 10 years, passed away in 2011. He was a suburb guy coming from the hip-hop side. We built Ed Banger together. We were sharing our passion for music. We didn’t need a flag to say we are for unity and mixing people together.

Has the night-life scene in Paris changed over the 25 years of your involvement?

It has completely changed! Me, I grew up in the gay scene of Paris, when I was 20 years old. This is where the best music, the best people and the most fun party was. When I started my own parties in 1995, it was all about bringing the young skateboarders from Paris who couldn’t get in, mixing them with the gay crowd and the fashion world. Now you have the gay crowd on one side, the techno heads on the other, the hip-hop heads on other. I’m sad. The best cocktail was when we mixed all the genres together.

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