- Warehouse music.
In 2017, Mella Dee scored an unlikely massive hit with "Techno Disco Tool," a hell of a tune that was exactly what the title promised. Built around an ecstatic, sped-up sample of Sister Sledge, it reinforced disco with industrial strength kick drums and, crucially, let the sample play out at just the right moments. It's the kind of simple device that could be a life-changing moment for a raver hearing it at just the right time. "Techno Disco Tool" rocketed the UK producer to a new level of fame and helped establish his label, Warehouse Music, which is about as apt a name for what he plays as anything we could come up with ourselves.
The term, as he explains below, is purposefully open-ended, and he has a varied catalogue to match, with early flirtations with post-dubstep alongside stomping house and techno. His latest single, "Love It Or Not," is a Radio 1-ready pop turn with Infinite Coles. He's also been dipping his toes into art recently—you'll find paintings, drawings, pottery and more on his dedicated art Instagram.
You'll also find plenty of "warehouse music" on Mella Dee's RA Podcast, which is a great one to ring in the New Year with. (Yes, New Year's Eve already happened, but the spirit can live on for a couple more days.) Loaded with own his own eclectic but functional crunchers and creative use of effects, it's a lumbering behemoth of a mix with the occasional callback to his earlier, dubstep-inspired days—check the Skream and Mala cuts in the tracklist.
What have you been up to recently?
Lots of shows before Christmas, I've just done another All Night Long tour across some of my favourite venues in the UK, and last Friday I played the concourse at Warehouse Project and it was incredible, it was a Chemical Brothers show and they were on in the main room. The atmosphere was special that night, just one of those ones where everyone was in it together and I was so excited to be playing some of the demos I'd written that week while I was away at Devon Analogue Studio. Tristan and his wife Ell who run the Devon Analogue were up for the Chems as well so it was a really nice vibe that they were there to hear the tracks being played loud for the first time, when they were cooked up direct in their studio.
What are you grateful for these days?
Time with my family and friends, being able to spend my days creating music and art. I always take stock of the fact that I don't have to do manual labour to get by any more, and I feed that energy into what I do as best I can, it keeps me motivated and hungry.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Pirate studio in Hackney Wick, CDJ-3000s and a Pioneer mixer, I alternate between mixers. I like Allen & Heath mainly but I'm happy to run with whatever's there and adapt, I think it's fun to not get too caught up on that, and see how different equipment change's my approach.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
Fast and frantic, I tried to come up with different concepts of how to approach it, ultimately I decided to follow a similar path to the way I'd played at The Warehouse Project night in the concourse, it was an electric energy and there's part of me trying to recreate that in this mix. I also did some editing afterwards to give it a feel of the real world, I imagined myself walking down the road listening to music or other mixes and the way that life interjects with the sounds and alters and affects your perception of what you are hearing.
Your mix includes a few dubstep throwbacks. How has your DJing style evolved or changed over the years?
It's just a continuation, it's a constant evolution that's fueled by the past and the present looking towards the future. I don't take time as a measure for anything in music, there's records being written now that inspire me and there's records that were written 30 or 40 years ago that feel just as fresh and exciting to me now, it's just a journey of self discovery and my only goal is to find a way to translate that and share it with people in a way that's enjoyable. I don't lose sight of the fact that I'm an entertainer, essentially, as a DJ and it's not all about me when I'm in the club. There's an element of 'education' but it can't be at the expense of actually being entertaining.
Warehouse Music is a very evocative name for a record label. What does "warehouse music" mean to you?
It's very open ended on purpose, I don't like being told who I am or what I am, and that's essentially what Warehouse Music stems from, there's a vagueness to it that can be determined by the listener. I'm from the North, it's an industrial place, and I've spent a lot of time both fitting roller shutters and raving in warehouses so they've had a big effect on me throughout my life, it doesn't have a defined sound you can explain, it's more about evoking a feeling more than anything else, it's not for me to say.
What's one social or political cause you want the world to pay more attention to?
One thing that always affects me is homelessness and the desperation of that situation. There are countless causes political and social in this work that bother me, but on a day to day I encounter so many people who are homeless and it's just such a dire situation for anyone to be in, I feel like as a whole, so much of society walks past people going through it without more even a thought, but for me it really strikes me down. I was having a conversation with a nice man, Teddy in Kings Cross, recently, who was telling me about his excitement at the prospect of finding a bike shed he could lock as shelter for the night, and that just feels like such an extreme thing. I'm truly grateful it's a feeling i don't have to go through myself, but I think we can never underestimate how its possible for anybody to go through this, none of us are above any of it.
What are you up to next?
More music, more shows, I'm just constantly working on projects, experimenting and expanding on what I do. Spending more time creating is a key for me at the moment, enjoying making music, painting and overall just working towards making things that excite me and hopefully in turn resonate with other people.
Basic Channel - Axis
Negroni Nails - Fast Test
Vil, Cravo - Links
Negroni Nails - White Matter
The Exaltics - Its not what it seems like
Mella Dee - Mangled & Spangled
Skream - Percession
Mella Dee - Headtop Removal Services
Mala - Lean FWD
Advent - Sketch 1
Fanon Flowers - Mode 08
Ryan - Live Inside
Mella Dee - OEP
Pessimist - The Crawlers
Lady Starlight - E2.2
Mella Dee - Storm Warning
Mella Dee - BFOTO