Touring around the world, playing DJ sets, promoting a label, signing new artists, releasing music, managing social media … there’s good reason they call the man Busy P.
Busy P (or Pedro Winter, as he’s known in “real life”) got his start managing Daft Punk (likely one of the most influential and successful acts ever birthed by dance music) — for nearly the last decade, however, he’s been focused on DJing and managing his label Ed Banger Records, home to an ever-growing list of electronic talent that includes Justice, Mr. Oizo, Sebastian, Carte Blanche, Feadz, Breakbot, Vicarious Bliss, Krazy Baldhead, Uffie, So Me, Mickey Moonlight, and Cassius.
We caught up with the Parisian legend during his stop at last year’s Electric Zoo Festival (sadly, just shortly before the tragic and untimely death of his close friend and sometime music partner DJ Mehdi (Faveris-Essadi), who also performed at the festival and who he was planning to make an album with).
I know there’s been a lot going on with Ed Banger — what’s the latest?
The label is 8 years old now — I started Ed Banger in 2003. 2011 [has been] a busy year because we [released] a lot of music in the last half of the year. Of course, the return of Justice, but aside from that I was pretty happy to see that we managed to slow down the tempo a bit with Breakbot, Carte Blanche, and Cassius, because I was a bit fed up that people were always referring to Ed Banger as noisy electro and banging sounds — which, of course, I’m proud of and happy about because this is what we’ve been doing for a few years, but I don’t want to be sticking in one genre. I’m happy to put ourselves in danger. This year we have Justice coming back of course. We also have the first album from an English guy called Mickey Moonlight, which I’m really happy about. Then, of course, we have the new album from Mr. Oizo. I’m really excited.
That leads nicely to my next question: Because Ed Banger grew massive so fast, there are inevitably a lot of haters. Does that bother you or does it just push you harder to show people how good you guys are and that you’re more than just an electro label?
That’s a good question. Haters, you know, that’s part of the game — if you are not ready for a fight, then don’t do stuff that people can listen to. So, it’s a fair game, it’s a fair war, but I don’t need to prove anything to those guys, you know, so I’m doing what I’ve been doing the last 15 years of my life. I’m trying to do what I feel is good for the label and share it with people. Again, this is the good thing with an alternative or indie label like us — I’m not trying to convince the mainstream people, I’m not trying to be number one or a billionaire, I keep doing what I do best, trying to bring new artists, new acts, and trying to challenge ourselves sometimes.
Is Ed Banger one big happy family as it appears from the outside?
Not especially happy all the time, you know — at the moment I am happy because I am in love — but we are a family. When they say Ed Banger is all “everybody’s good, everybody’s happy, everybody’s friendly” … no, we are like every family, sometimes not everybody agrees on everything. But the vibe is still going well: Everybody is working hard, Justice is preparing the live show right now, finishing the album; Sebastian is touring with his live show; Krazy Baldhead finished his album … So much going on, but at the same time we’re happy — we’re sticking together, which makes me really proud. It’s not easy to run a label nowadays, you know, and today I can say that almost 10 years after the beginning of Ed Banger, we’re still here together.
As your name suggests, you’re always very busy. Do you ever take a vacation?
This summer I had five days of vacation only, but it was a love vacation, so it was the best vacation of my life. Just before that I was doing a world tour and was so exhausted, then I went five days in Spain and it was just perfect. But again, I can’t complain. Everybody’s working so hard — like, normal people I’m talking about — and life is tough, so DJs complaining, “Oh, I’ve got a busy life, it’s tough” … it’s a bit boring. I’m happy, I’m living my passion, I’m sharing my music with people I like, and I’m young — I’m 36 years old. I will have time to complain and be sad when I will be older. I can’t complain because we are busy.
Your onstage persona is that of a crazy, fun, “party guy.” In your regular life, you’re known for being very busy and very professional — people have told me you even go early to festivals to listen to the sets before yours to make sure you don’t play what another DJ played. Do you feel like you’re a very different person offstage than onstage?
Completely. The good news for my parents and for the doctors is I’m still not a schizo: This is why I came up with the name Busy P, because I wanted to separate Busy P and Pedro Winter and create kind of a character. You’re right — when I’m onstage I’m an artist of Ed Banger, but when I’m not onstage, I’m working for my artists. I’m not a diva, I’m not an artist every day — the rest of the time I’m working for my artists and I need to be a professional for them and, of course, professional for myself when I am working. But I feel really lucky to be able to be onstage, behind the stage, on the side of the stage, doing interviews, planning interviews for the rest of the artists. I feel really lucky to be able to touch all of this.
Would you consider yourself a control freak? Not that it’s a bad thing …
No, no, no … I am kind of a control freak, but I hope not in a bad way. I owe a lot to Daft Punk, who I worked for for 12 years — they are really control freaks, but they managed to teach me the good way to be a control freak. They taught me to know what I don’t want to do, because that’s a really key thing. A lot of people know what they want to do — “Oh, I want to be number one, I want to sell records, I want to be a big star” — but what don’t you want to do? That’s a slight difference, and Daft Punk taught me this. Me, I don’t want to be number one, I’m happy to be indie, I’m happy to be alternative — I’m happy not to be on the main stage today, I’m happy to be on the side stage to propose something different, you know?
Speaking of being an Ed Banger artist, do you think at some point in the future you’ll release a full-length album?
That’s a good question. Of course I’m thinking of it, but as you can imagine, it can be so risky, and it can be so busy sometimes for me to leave [the office], and it will need some time to be away to make the music. I have so much good talent around me that the day I make music I have to be good — it will take some time.
So it’s not your focus at the moment but you will eventually work an album into your plans?
I can tell you now that I will probably focus on it next year  — and probably in your lovely New York City. I need to be away from Paris, I need to be away from the office. This is the first time I’m speaking about it.
Awesome — I’m sure plenty of people will be excited to hear that! You seem to be really in touch with your fans. Is interacting with them very important to you? For example, do you answer your own Facebook messages?
Of course. A lot of people sometimes ask me the recipe or secret, and I don’t have any — just with us, the fans are part of our history, they are part of what we are doing, and I think it’s a proof of respect to answer them, to play with them, and, when I am onstage, party with them. I’m not, like, playing my records, not watching them, you know? I need to feel them and they need to feel me, too. So yeah, the fan is a key thing for Ed Banger, and I believe — again, it’s not for myself to say it — but I believe they understand it, they can feel it. We are on the same page, and that’s gold — I feel really happy with that.
And finally, what would people be most shocked or surprised to learn about you?
Uhhh … It’s not that huge, but maybe people will be surprised that even though I’m dressed in pink and I’m playing happy music and I like to smile onstage and I’m dancing and jumping around and partying hard … I love depressive music. One of my favorite artists is Nick Drake — I even have a tattoo. Nick Drake is an English songwriter, and he just makes me cry. I like to say that sad music makes me happy!