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Margeaux Labat Proves Taste Still Matters

The Brooklyn-based music curator and creator, has been making playlists since she was twelve years old. Now, her MusicTok videos have gained a massive following.


If you’re one of the few people who still works as a critic, as I do, you tend to hear the same thing over and over: Why would anyone need criticism or curation in a post-taste age? Anyone can sample anything they want, at any time; snobbery has been out of fashion for a good 10 years, if not more, so any old musical confection can be downed easily, without any lingering aftertaste of guilt.

To my ears, that argument is not just stupid, but untrue, too: poll your friends on any given night and you’ll find that they’re bored of getting served the same music by algorithms every other day, unsure of how to trawl for new music to listen to, and unable to contextualize said music when they do find it. It’s times like these when people with exceptional taste, who can drag you out of the swamp of unlimited streaming and set you back on your path, are more necessary than ever – which might explain the success of 26-year-old music curator and writer Margeaux Labat.

Over the past few years, Margeaux has found a cult following who treat the recommendations she posts on TikTok and Instagram as gospel. Unlike any number of other “MusicTok” figures, who might assume that a Phoebe Bridgers recommendation is the pinnacle of underground cool, Margeaux’s taste is genuinely unique and unpredictable; her regularly updated 2024 playlist, for example, draws in everything from 2000s Florida indie band Brittle Stars to Bonnie Raitt to the conceptual 90s Japanese lounge project Doopees. The consistent thread that runs through Margeaux’s recommendations is that they’re always worth listening to. “People have algorithm fatigue,” she says, video calling from her apartment in New York. “Algorithmic recommendations can be formulaic – if a person is creating a playlist, there’s always the potential for chaos, which is kind of fun.”

“Algorithmic recommendations can be formulaic – if a person is creating a playlist, there’s always the potential for chaos, which is kind of fun.”

Margeaux wears Kimchi Blue Lace Rosette Long Sleeve Top from Urban Outfitters, pants her own.

Margeaux was born in New Orleans to a musical family: her older brothers were “really prolific jazz musicians,” and her mother had the kind of omnivorous taste that she herself would go on to inherit, fond of everything from the New Orleans world music station WWOZ, where Margeaux first heard Latin music icons like Astrud Gilberto and João Gilberto, to the first Coldplay album to Björk’s Debut. “I remember having distinct reactions to certain songs from a very early age – being super young and being like, ‘Oh, I love this song,’” she recalls. “I don’t know [that many] five-year-olds were having those same reactions to like, Björk or Coldplay.”

Margeaux says that, given her brothers’ musical pedigree, she was “really primed to become a great musician” and took piano lessons as a kid, but never invested fully. “I was too preoccupied with, I don’t know, girly things,” she says. “I was really into books, I was really into dolls, and I was not really so into practicing instruments.” (She hasn’t ruled out making music in the future, though: “I don’t think it’s not going to be possible for me to be a musician – I still have time to explore that area of my musical life.”)

Around the age of 12, Margeaux began making playlists to categorize all the music she was listening to, a habit that continued through high school and beyond. It’s never been a conscious effort, to organize her tastes this way; instead, Margeaux says it’s “probably the thing that comes most naturally.” She wasn’t, however, the person at school constantly sending people playlist links or snatching the aux at parties. “Music was such an insanely private thing for me – even with my family, I would never share what I was listening to because my family was like, really artsy,” she says. At parties, she and her friends would listen to hip-hop and trap, and although she listened to a lot of that music – artists like Travis Scott, Playboi Carti, Future – she didn’t ever share the music she listened to alone. “I wouldn’t put Sufjan Stevens on the aux when I was with my friends – I was like, this is too personal for me. It was always extremely private unless you knew my Tumblr or Spotify.”

As a teen, Margeaux was agnostic towards implicit boundaries of taste or discovery: she found as much on Tumblr and YouTube as she did at Hollister, where she would buy CDs at the front desk. But when it came to indie music, “Reddit was my bible – I was always on r/indieheads, and I even got into 4chan, I’m not gonna lie,” she recalls. “That left a lasting impression, because to this day, I mainly absorb music and learn about music best through text-based formats – when it’s just a wall of text, people just talking.”

Margeaux started making short-form videos in April 2021, and by May, her videos started garnering a lot of views. Her first viral video was about the cult (to Western audiences) Chinese singer Faye Wong and her collaborations with Cocteau Twins; since then, she’s made videos interviewing rising indie artists like Dry Cleaning and Kate NV, highlighting Black ambient musicians, and diving into the legacies of Arthur Russell and Juana Molina. The bulk of her content is fast montages of everything she’s listened to in a month; pause the video at any given point, and it’s probably going to be a record you haven’t heard but will likely love. It can be a remarkable experience trawling through Margeaux’s recommendation videos and playlists: they’re not bound together by “mood” logic or hackneyed themes, but still feel totally coherent in their quality and the care with which they were made.

She’s aware of the inherent contradiction of using TikTok to shine a light on artists otherwise unknown or largely lost to time. “I’ve always really had an adverse reaction to TikTok because I feel like we’ve lived during a time where people are making music with the conscious thought of wanting things to go viral, and that’s really repulsed me,” she says. “It’s not even fair for the artists going viral on TikTok – because, say, this random bedroom artist from Cincinnati, Ohio goes viral, record labels start looking their way, and they’re like, ‘Oh, we want you to make even more viral songs.’ And then these artists are expected to produce viral hit after viral hit, which is a recipe for disaster.”

“Music was such an insanely private thing for me – even with my family, I would never share what I was listening to. ”

Margeaux wears Kimchi Blue Joel Longline Cardigan, Out From Under Quinn Bodysuit, and Oval Square Idris Pinstripe Trouser Pant from Urban Outfitters.

At the same time, she thinks it’s a net positive that bands like Bôa and Duster, who have both undergone a resurgence thanks to TikTok, can find a new audience on the app. But, for the most part, “I post on TikTok, and I don’t really go on TikTok ‘til I’m posting again,” she says. “I’m kind of in my own world, and I have my own avenues of music discovery.”

Social media, Margeaux says, can be hugely isolating despite their supposed ability to connect people, which is why she doesn’t tend to rely on TikTok to provide any kind of connection. In-person events – like the unofficial showcase she’s curated at this year's SXSW festival with POND Creative and Winspear – provide “a way for me to connect with people that are supporting me by following me online” and “to meet people in real life that are not fans of me, but, you know, are part of my audience.”

“I really think it's really special to be all in one place together, and to be enjoying music and getting lost in it and discovering new cool emerging acts, and just kind of detaching from the intensity of everyday life,” she says. “Just really being present in that moment with each other, all for something that you really love, which is music – I think that's a really special thing.”

This steadfast commitment to her own vision has made Margeaux a god-tier music freak among god-tier music freaks – evidenced by her meeting with Caroline Polachek on the red carpet of this year’s Grammys, which saw the alt-pop star genuinely agog to see Margeaux in the flesh. (“Oh my God, I’m starstruck,” she gushes in the video. “I send your stuff to everyone – I’m like, ‘She is the future of music journalism!’”) Margeaux, true to form, is trying not to let the interaction shift her direction. “I’m such a huge fan, and for her to say that really means a lot,” she says. “But it’s hard for me to shake the fact that I’m just a person posting about music. I haven’t really thought about it – I’m just like, ‘Okay, onto the next thing.’”

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