THINK OF FRENCH MINIMOGUL PEDRO WINTER as a tasteful alternative to Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Like his precursor, Winter iz an artiste and a businessman. Unlike Diddy, Winter has a well-defined chin and retains his aesthetic je ne sais quoi. He first gained renown via Daft Punk, whom he manages to this day. Together, they introduced a new, markedly Gallic groove to the world of dance music: sexy and whimsical yet harsh. Distinguished by deep funk and heavily filtered sound, it’s wonderfully reminiscent of both French food and French people — too much butter in the sauce, too much sexy in the culture. Recently, Winter founded Ed Banger Records, an artwork in itself. Listen to Justice, the label’s flagship act and the first to make a splash in America. It’s the French sound amped to 11: algorhythmic, bass-heavy sequences punctuated by slaps and distorted midrange; digital edits as dramatic as Timbaland’s most avant Top 40 track. The exquisite pleasure is how overdriven everything sounds. It’s heavy metal for the dance floor, head-banger music. Now you know where the label’s name came from.
L.A. WEEKLY: What is the point of Ed Banger Records?
PEDRO WINTER: The idea is to push the new French sound. I wanted to make a connection between electro labels — Mo Wax, Stones Throw, Warp, DFA — but I didn’t want to do the same thing as any of them. The idea is to mix all those influences.
But you have your own aesthetic, no? It’s a bit more ?rock & roll.
The energy is definitely similar to a punk-rock concert. We prefer doing parties in small rooms with no VIP areas and the people going crazy. No Miami Winter Music Conference or Ibiza-style venues.
And what about the album covers? They look like early rap records.
Eighties hip-hop culture was important to me visually, and the handwriting stuff was very important to me. I just wanted something naive and funny. It is true, though, I want the cover to be as important as the music. This is a key thing. From day one, I’ve been working with the French artist So Me. He has total control of the design.
The medium you’ve used to present the music does bring visuals to the fore. So far, you’ve released only 12-inch singles. Why, in 2006, would you put so much emphasis on vinyl?
The 12-inch is just the introduction. And it’s doing well for Uffie, Sebastian, DJ Mehdi. We sell between 2,000 and 4,000 vinyls — a small amount, but still a good score for vinyls when you can’t even find record stores. They are all closing! It’s definitely not a money project. So far, all the money I make with my work with Daft Punk, I put into this new venture. But the idea is to do proper long forms. We use vinyl as a communication tool. It’s to show that the old-school way is still important to us in today’s digital culture. I like the object. But we will definitely move into more contemporary tools like iTunes.
Is there pressure to become an overnight success? The climate for dance music is chilly.
I’m happy taking time. The label was launched in 2003, and it’s just starting to get some feedback from the U.S. But we still have a lot of work to do. We are going to do some of the main indie events, the Es Ex Double-U [SXSW —ed.].
The respected U.K. dance label Output just went out of business.
It’s really sad news that Output is closing. But while I love this label, I don’t want Ed Banger to look like Output. It was too intelligent for me. I don’t want an intelligent and serious label. You should have a little fun in this business.
Justice plays Check Yo’ Ponytail night at Safari Sam’s on Tues., Oct. 31.