Diggers Directory: LB aka LABAT

As both a DJ and producer, Lyon-based LB aka LABAT is on a hunt for the soulful, regardless of genre or style.

A lover of tapes and the MPC, these mediums fuel his productions which have found their way onto a vast array of record labels over the last five years. Since his first contribution to the Le Sampler Des Copains on Faces Records in 2015, he’s notched up releases for Groovedge, Brothers From Different Mothers and Magic Black, as well as regular outings for London’s Wolf Music and Paris staple D.KO Records.

In 2017, alongside friend Polow, he launched his own tape and vinyl label Alélah Records, a platform that has hosted some of his own groove-heavy and instrumental creations. As well as being a space to release his own music, the label has enlisted many other artists for cassettes and 12″ including Mr Fries, JK, Kamoony and his label co-founder Polow.

His vinyl-only mix is conceived in two parts that compliment one another; the first a nod to the krautrock and guitar sounds that get him high and the second a meander through spiritual jazz. This sits alongside an interview about his relationship with records and a life indebted to discovery.

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

My parents didn’t have records at home. It all started when my brother got his first pair of Gemini PT1000. I was introduced to the world of records by him in the first place. He had them for many years, till the day he had to work on his studies I think and then, bingo I had them in my room! I was maybe 12 at this point. I had mostly hip hop records from the 90s, and Octopus Volumes for perfecting my scratching technics, it lasted maybe three days… Then I thought it wasn’t for me.

I moved to Montpellier a year later, and I was walking in town and I passed a record shop and entered for the first time in my life. I didn’t know what to dig and I was shy and very young. There was a record bumping loud on the speakers and I said to the record dealer “that’s what I want”.  It was the very first record I bought: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness from 1995 on Strictly Rhythm.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

As I said just before, I only had one record to spin at home. I had to buy more of them to even be able to start learning about mixing records together.

Then I had three then four and many years after when I came back to Strasbourg, which is my home town, I had enough money to buy my first big order on Decks. It was like 70 euros, I was mad excited!

If I count correctly, 14 years have passed now, and I never stopped buying records. I still buy them because I never really got into the CDJs and USB thing. I use them sometimes of course but it makes up maybe 10% of what I’ll play at a gig. I don’t know how to explain it but it’s just the way I got introduced to this whole thing. It’s like someone who started off painting with oil paint and now he has the opportunity to paint on an iPad. I don’t have sides to take here, it’s just the way I do it. But we all know that at some point “it might slip, it might crack but records will never crash”.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I store my records in my studio at home, I’ve got a separate room for it since early this year. Basically it goes like this: the upper you are on the shelf, this is where you will find the records I listen to the most, the more you go down you get it.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why? 

The best city I found for digging to this day is Tokyo. I’ve never seen so many records stacked in one city. I never really bought records on Discogs, maybe 20 or 30 maximum. I don’t know why, maybe I say to myself that if the record and me didn’t find ourselves in the physical world in a record store, then I won’t have the same story to tell when I put the record on the turntable in a club or at home. Weird hmm?

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

I met Geology in a record store in Tokyo one day, didn’t even know he was in town. That’s the kind of person you don’t want to be in the store at the same time with haha. Sometimes there is only one record in the store that you both want. Nah just kidding.

Unsung heroes? Well there is a friend of mine, he goes by the name of Frankito in Annecy, and has a record store called “Vinyl and Coffee”. It is a pure gold mine. Made me listen to some crazy records and had all kind of stories around the diggin’ world etc. A true bro!

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?

Of course and I certainly will never have them, but I really don’t mind getting the reissues, still would be nice to have them OGs!

Damon – Song of a Gipsy (Original Press) and Les Masques – Brazilian Sound (Original Press).

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

I find this process to be a solitary flight for me, even though I don’t mind being with a friend. Usually I prefer getting along with the record store owner and get those back room records 🙂

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?

I like getting my ass down and getting my fingers dirty in the floor crates.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

Not much because some of the dopest records I have don’t necessarily have the best artwork. But if I’m honest if I see a pyramid on a record or an Egyptian hieroglyph I usually jump on it.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

The recording is cut in two parts: first one is all about some classic and some shady Krautrock and guitars that gets me high; the second part is more about the spiritual jazz vibes.

I like those moments (and especially now) where you can really dive deep on a subject that matters to you. For me, the artists and bands performing on those jazz and rock records follow me everyday in the humbling process that I have doing my music. For example, sometimes I listen to some records just to be amazed by the composition and in someway get desperate. Then I stare at my MPC and the studio and just be like “well don’t take yourself to seriously ok? There are some dudes that really made some dope music, just try your best.”

I wish I had mushrooms to record this session, but it is as if I was already in a higher state of mind during the recording. Yeah, that’s the power of music, and I’m glad to have this in the times we live in.

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

Soft Machine, CAN and the last record which is Israel Suite – Dominate en bleu… It’s crazy.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

Well it has to be Egon and Madlib. I feel like they are looking for the weirdest things ever made and the most shady records pressed. They’re also having this kind of historical digging process, like buying everything from one country and then another one and another one etc, so they have a real understanding of the evolution of music in those countries and can compare to others at the same time. Well that is what I think of course. That’s why Madlib’s music is so rich.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

Alia from Belgium, much props!

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

I’ve been making lots of music and albums these past few months, some will be released soon. I’m excited about putting music out and getting down behind the decks! Thank you STW and props to y’all.

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