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LB aka LABAT On The Advantage Of Limitations

photography THESNDOCTOR
04 March 2024
French artist LB aka LABAT, has been a force in the electronic dance scene for well over a decade. Releasing jazz-influenced house music and absolute dance floor heaters, he hosts a party with a goodie bag full of surprises. As a DJ, producer and record label owner, LB aka LABAT has forged his own path in an extremely competitive environment. For years, he’s been no stranger to Boiler Room sets and international tours. While chatting to him, it quickly became clear that he was a mature artist with a refined perspective on making music and playing to different types of crowds. Calling in from Paris, LB aka LABAT shares his preparation and production process as he gets ready to tear it up at Pitch Music and Arts Festival this week.

Rob Feher So you’re in Paris at the moment. What have you been up to over there?

LB aka LABAT I’m trying to make some tunes and rest from the weekend, which is my priority at the moment. It’s been a hectic past few months, but it’s going to get even more hectic once I get to Australia.

RF Do you have any good strategies that help you balance out the late nights of playing and studio sessions?

LB I’ve been doing this for around fifteen years, so I’ve been able to get used to the DJ routine. I know how to party well but it’s definitely getting harder and harder. Drink water, rest while you can and get twelve hours of sleep on Mondays.

RF Well, I’m glad to hear you’re resting up before touching Australian shores! To get into it, genre doesn’t seem to bother you across your releases. Why do you think this is the case?

LB I started off by making electronic music. Over time, I dug into more hip-hop production, which opened up the discovery of sampling. This exposed me to such a wide range of genres that contributed to the creation of hip-hop. Since I’m touring a lot, I’m making a lot more club music to play at my own shows. Over the past year, I’ve been releasing one single a month, which helped push a message to my listeners that I can make club songs.

I also have less and less time to make music at the moment. I have to be very efficient in the way I make music, as I don’t have all the time in the world to finish tracks. I usually have three or four ideas within one track, but now I’m separating all those ideas into their own songs.

RF Are you finishing these tracks in the same session you’re making them, or do you find that you revisit these ideas later in time and finish them?

LB I don’t usually go back to a track once the idea is there. Creatively, the track is all there once I've left the session. All the tracks I make have a certain destiny once the idea is there. It can be a shit track, but then I must accept that it’s its destiny to not be fixed or heard.

RF That feels like a very mature approach to creating.

LB You know it depends, because I’ve always been fascinated to hear my friends’ music that they’ve been working on for months. And I can hear the complexities of their production and arrangement. I love to hear those complexities, but I feel incapable of dedicating time to this and I’ve never really attempted to. I’m not a musician. I can be satisfied with a bass within 30 minutes of writing.

For me, writing on instruments has always been a longer process. I’m trying to focus on composition this year. That being said, I still always try to focus on having elements that sound good by themselves. If I add too much to a track, it gives me the feeling that the track must be weak.

When I started producing, I used an MPC 2000 sampler that had a lot of limitations. I had to become satisfied with these limitations and it always resulted in great tracks within a short amount of time. It keeps me away from the infinite world of producing software.

RF: I really love that idea of using limitations to your advantage. Moving away from the production side of your career, you’ll be DJing Pitch Music and Arts Festival within the next week. What does your process look like when preparing to play in other countries?

LB: It’s more about how long I’m playing for and in what context. Playing for an hour at a festival in comparison to playing two and a half hours in the club really requires a different sense of preparation. When playing at a festival, you don’t have much time to play, and it can feel very competitive. In a way, you have to prove something to so many people. You have to bring joy to such a diverse group of personalities. This can make the job very different from playing for a few hundred people in a club. I try not to fall into playing only banger tunes for an hour. I find that I want to try to create interest within my set, not that I don’t love listening to bangers, but I want to make people dance to something they didn’t think they would dance to. This also challenges me. I’m not trying to prove myself as a DJ. I know what I can do. It’s my job to be more interesting and take risks. For Pitch, I’m going to try to be risky, challenging and interesting while also making everybody dance! The biggest surprise for me is that Australia is my biggest audience. From my past experiences touring in Australia, I’ve found that they really enjoy my sets. This gives me more confidence to just give the Aussie audience my true self.

RF That’s very exciting to hear! Before we wrap up, I wanted to ask your opinion on the Australian music scene.

LB I have a theory! I had never thought about this until I met all these beautiful people from Australia. I’m very connected to Australians like Partyboi69, HAAI and DJ Boring. There’s so many Australians around me; it’s crazy. When I first came to Australia, I realised that it’s a huge country with not many people, it’s always sunny, the food is good and you have the ocean. Of course, there is a perfect storm for creativity and amazing artists. As artists in Europe, we don’t have that higher quality of life. I can now understand why Australia breeds so many talented artists!

RF Do you think quality of life becomes a big influence?

LB Personally, I just felt a bit lighter being in Australia. For me, environments have always been the most important thing in order to make music. If I'm not in a good place, or if my surroundings are too grey or constantly raining, I can’t really be very creative. So yeah, I think the quality of life and environment play a huge role in influencing an artist. I also never make music when I’m travelling, and I’ve never made a beat outside of my studio. I can’t do it, but I’ll eventually have to if I’m constantly playing. I’m going to start trying to make music on the go.

RF I'm looking forward to hearing what sort of music you'll be making on a plane (Laughs)!

You can catch LB aka LABAT playing Pitch Music and Arts Festival. He’ll also be playing a very special side show on March 22 with Spray, Sophie Mcalister and a very special guest!

9 March 2024                 Brisbane           Triffid
10 March 2024               Victoria              Pitch Music & Arts
15 March 2024               Perth                  Barbes
16 March 2024               Geelong             Bloom
17 March 2024                Sydney              Lost Sundays Block Party
22 March 2024               Melbourne        The Third Day
23 March 2024               Canberra           Digi Festival

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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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