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Mella Dee Interview: The Combination of techno and rave

We grabbed five minutes with Doncaster's dark lord of rave Mella Dee ahead of another bumper festival season.

Mike Warburton

Date published: 10th Feb 2016

Photo: Mella Dee

Self confessed trainers and breakbeat junkie Mella Dee has in the past few years become one of the brightest producers in underground, UK club music, with a bold, unfiltered sound that bridges the gaps between techno, rave, jungle, breaks and bass music, as witnessed on searing releases for labels like Lobster Boy and Digital Soundboy.

His abilities as a selector have further pushed his reputation, with sets that celebrate rave's enduring past, whilst dragging things into the future by way of a potent blend of hefty basslines and crushing broken beats that continue to evolve into darker, more fractured states as time goes by - check out his Feel My Bicep Mix above.

Ahead of another busy festival season for the on point producer, we caught up with Mella Dee to discuss dance music from the dark side, finding the balance between rave and techno, and his upcoming appearance at Rainbow Venues' Chapter XII Festival.

You had a memorable summer last year, not least with Special Request and yourself back to back on the Port Stage at Bestival. How was that? What were some other highlights of 2015?

It was amazing going back to back with Paul (Woolford) - it really worked well I think as we both had a similar idea of what we wanted we do and the kind of stuff we wanted to play. Glastonbury was really good fun as always, but this year closing the London Underground stage in Block 9 on the Saturday was a highlight.

How’s your festival season looking this year? You seemed to be everywhere last year.

Great, I'm really looking forward to it, starting off with some of the earlier festivals like Lost & Found in Malta, Snowboxx and obviously Chapter 12, which I'm really looking forward to. Also looking forward to playing at Hideout and Lost Village for the first time. 

The line up at Chapter 12 is looking really cool so far...

Yeah the rest of the line-up is amazing, really fits with the sort of stuff I personally want to go out raving to, and is more in line with the sort of stuff I tend to play, so it's one I'm excited about going to. Plus Rainbow Venues’ events are always on point.

Can you let us in on some of the records you’re really digging at the moment? Or some of the producers you particularly rate.

All sorts, stuff like Head High, Bicep, Alan Fitzpatrick, Dusky, Hodge the list goes on, generally quite dark, moody music is the one for me. The combination of techno and rave orientated sounds. 

Tell us more about your upcoming Noface project. What can we expect from that?

It's probably going to be an output for my more experimental sounds, the first EP was a lot straighter and probably a lot more in tune with where I'll be going as Mella Dee. There’s no immediate plans with Noface but it will just be stuff that's a bit more left of centre.

Have you got any forthcoming releases we can look forward to, either as Noface or Mella Dee?

Just finishing up a remix I'm really happy to be doing as Mella Dee (listen to his recent edit of DJ Vibes 'Obsession above) and we’ll be starting promoting my next EP which is coming out on DEXT Records very soon. The lead track has had a good reaction in some mixes that have been about so I'm really excited to be able to share it all properly.

You’ve spoken before about getting into music where you grew up, in Doncaster, where there was virtually no scene. What advice would you give to other producers in the same situation, trying to break the wider scene where one doesn’t exist at home.

Just work hard really, if you wanna be involved in music you've just got to put the time in, I started by travelling to Leeds and playing graveyard slots on a pirate radio station over there, doing residencies at little clubs and bars in Doncaster and student nights in Leeds.

It’s made easier these days also by the platforms like Soundcloud which make getting music out there much easier. Don't rush is one thing though, just make good music.

The darker, broken beat stuff you do seems to be really striking a chord with people at the moment, with Bicep, a predominantly house outfit citing 'Heaven' as one of the biggest records of last year. Why do you think there’s a bigger audience lapping up the grittier sounds at the moment?

It's hard to say really, for me I've always found the darker sounds more appealing. I think it's probably a reaction to the kind of stuff that’s been popular for a while, and now the kids who were into the ‘nicer’, more commercial stuff are seeking out new sounds and finding the more hard hitting, edgy side of dance music stuff.

Mella Dee hits Chapter XII at Birmingham' Rainbow Venues on March 26th. Get your Chapter 12 tickets here. 

More like this? Read Rainbow Venues Announces Chapter XII line up.

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