[Q&A] Habstrakt: Hot off the French Press
[Q&A] Habstrakt: Hot off the French Press

French born and bred electronic pacemaker Adam Jouneau, aka Habstrakt, has been charging his way through the global bass music circuit using a distinctive production style that expertly blends a vast array of genres, from dubstep to future bass and house. Utilizing impactful sonic characteristics, like screechy bass sounds, metallic and organic textures, tight and bright drums and cheeky samples, Habstrakt’s sound is well-defined yet extremely malleable to whatever genre he chooses to play with. The versatile Never Say Die Records producer never ceases to let his unique musical personality shine through, whether he’s busting out all original tracks or crafting remixes for scene heavyweights such as Skrillex & Diplo, MUST DIE!, Barely Alive, and Kill The Noise & Feed Me.

Having established this reputation for blistering sound design, high production value and clever versatility, Habstrakt has garnered support from the likes of DJ Snake, Tchami, Modestep and Jack Ü, just to name a few. With releases on labels like Buygore and Disciple, Habstrakt is back again with his brand new EP for Never Say Die, a five-track release entitled French Press that showcases his knack for producing high impact dubstep as well as dynamic groove-ridden house. Check the selection below and stick around for an in-depth Q&A with the cheese mastermind himself for a glimpse into his innovative and inspiring creative approach to production and bass music.

In the beginning stages of creating your new French Press EP, was there a specific overall vibe or theme you wanted to convey to listeners?
I definitely aimed for something with a very “live” feeling on this one, as touring worldwide over this year was crazy inspirational and the dynamic was perfectly intense. I would work on these tracks on the road, playing a version one night to then make small changes in a hotel room after the show. I went back and forth like that for a few months until I was completely satisfied. I then took the tracks back to my studio in south of France where I finalized everything and added that extra layer of cheese on top. I also made the entire EP continuous play like a live album; it definitely contributes to tying everything together in one bigger picture, one story that loops on itself.

What was the creative decision making process behind producing a half dubstep, half bass house release?
Blending genres has always been the definition of Habstrakt itself, rather than a creative decision. It definitely results from DJing, impulsive moments where you’re going to change the tempo and play something the crowd doesn’t expect at all; moments where I feel like defining a musical genre is actually putting limits to it, limits that I’m here to break. That’s an inherent part of what Habstrakt is, on stage or in the studio.

How and why did you choose to collaborate with Badjokes and Basstrick on French Press? What do you think these two collaborations bring to the table that the release would have otherwise lacked?
First of all, I’m so proud of these two! We share the same values and we all come from isolated places in France, places where we started music production to face the daily boredom. We kept those values in place from when we started being local openers to now being international DJs. We all worked very hard to keep pushing our own personal limits, and to share our love for this new sound at the limit of dubstep, house, trap, etc. I’ve always loved the dynamics of working with other people, should it brie (sic) in the studio or over the internet, and it was definitely something I missed in my previous EP, My People. To me collaborations definitely bring even more diversity to the menu and the sound palette, and hopefully it will make people discover Badjokes and Basstrick’s music because it’s so gouda (also sic).

How and when did you first discover electronic music, namely your love for it and the realization that you wanted to go beyond just listening to it and create it yourself?
I come from a family of musicians, craftsmen and artists, and grew up in a very musical environment, so music and experimentation was always part of the equation. When I was around 12 I started to discover stuff like the Chemical Brothers, but I couldn’t really figure it out. It all changed when my mum introduced me to Amon Tobin but more importantly told me that it was “just one guy doing it all.” I was blown away. I was already playing guitar and bits of keyboard since forever, but I couldn’t find a band to practice with and my cat was terrible at playing drums. So I started to research and invest in gear (samplers, drum machines, synths, etc.), and installing software that would ruin my dad’s old computer. My first machine was an old busted MC-303 when I was 14. It cost me everything I owned back then, which was pretty much nothing. I was instantly hooked, and the rest is history!

I’m in charge of SKisM’s personal cheese collection; finding the rarest and finest treasures France has to offer. I also make sure Eptic eats something other than waffles. I’m basically in charge of all culinary tasks and cheesy puns.

In previous interviews, you said that the vibe and unique energy of playing live shows really helps to inspire your studio time and feeds your creative productivity. Can you elaborate on what exactly it is about those moments that fuels your songwriting process?
That definitely sounds like something good ol’ Habby would say, but that was even before I started to tour as much as I do now. To me, the act of playing live, and those instant reactions you get from a crowd, to surprise them or play a song they all love and take them on a journey, that’s essential to keeping yourself inspired. The studio is hard, it’s impartial and unfair. You can feel like you just wrote the best song of your life in 15 minutes by accident, and then come out with nothing for months. It gives and takes, a LOT. Without those crazy festival, club, and touring moments to remember, it’s easy sometimes to feel a bit drowned and underwhelmed in your writing process. Maintaining that balance isn’t a perfect science, but once you find it, you’re basically unstoppable.

Does having such a heavy touring schedule now create new challenges to your process that have made you grow as an artist?
It has definitely forced me to write more often on the road and accept the idea that I can still be productive and make cool music even when I’m not sitting in my studio with my angry cat, lava lamps, weird gadgets, and tons of analog and digital synths. Anyone who follows my Snapchat knows how much I love this place I call “the lab.” It’s hard to learn how to step out of a comfort zone once you’ve trained and conditioned yourself to work in said zone for so long. It was like I couldn’t write unless the cat was around! But I’ve always liked a bit of a challenge and intense touring this year has also forced me to adapt. As a result, this EP’s ideas come from all over the world. I wrote the initial idea for “Heyo” in Must Die’s living room in the US and “Clowns” was started in a Fiji airport.

Never Say Die’s roster of artists all seem to contribute something fresh to the label’s personality while still managing to retain its cohesive, bass-heavy vibe. What would you say your unique role is within the label’s musical persona?
I’m in charge of SKisM’s personal cheese collection; finding the rarest and finest treasures France has to offer. I also make sure Eptic eats something other than waffles. I’m basically in charge of all culinary tasks and cheesy puns. On the music side, I see Never Say Die as this family where we all grew up together, teaching and inspiring each other. Each one of us specializes in having an extremely personal and distinct sound: a sound that emerges from dubstep and takes bits of our own personal worlds, a sound that is constantly growing and that we’re willing to assume no matter what. We trust each other’s visions and for that reason they trust me with bringing a more house and garage influence to the label. Thanks to that, we were at the core of the creation of bass house when we released my VIP of Eptic’s “Danger” back in 2013. The “Never Say Die sound” is so defined, yet so diverse, that it allows those visions to grow and expand within its circle, while the results always stays true to the original roots.