Music:
Going Full Circle with Melé

Melé is my favorite DJ. In all my years I’ve never seen anyone as dexterous as him behind the decks, not since Mark Ronson, who can play across such a wide genre base, pull out forgotten classics and keep it as tight and inclusive as Melé does.

He’s always been this way too; we first met in Sheffield years ago (Melé was 18) when we shared a bill and I was warming up for him. Even then, at that age – barely allowed in clubs himself – he had the remarkable ability to absolutely shell clubs. We had up with us in Newcastle shortly after and he destroyed our tiny club. Since then I’ve seen him do the same to Red Bull Carnival, The Nest and seen him take an almost empty festival tent to capacity within 3 songs, such is his skill at dropping the ‘right’ track.

The early years were stormers for Melé (Or Krissy to his mother), early tracks like Mugged and Digits were being supported by Brodinski and Sinden and his early releases found a home on the latter’s ‘Grizzly’ label. This peaked with a track with Kano, the infectious ‘Beamer’, before he went quiet.

Gloriously, he returned last summer with ‘Ambience’, a phenomenal drums-led house track that, thanks to Annie Mac, picked up a great deal of peak time radio play and became to many the house track of the summer. He’s continuing this run with ‘Queens Day’ and ‘Body Thing’ the follow up releases to Ambience on Redlight’s Lobster Boy label, as well as a run of gigs with like-minded Radio 1 DJ and girlfriend Monki as ‘NRG Flash’. We caught up with Krissy in our studio between gigs to catch up about life, why he took the downtime in releases and what’s next.

If you get chance to go see him DJ this summer, do it. Nobody does it better.

For those that don’t know, introduce yourself.

I’m Krissy, from the Wirral living in London, I DJ and Produce under the name Melé.

Who’s Tierry?

He’s my pet rabbit! He doesn’t go outside he just lives in our flat with us which is sick, best 35 quid we’ve ever spent. 

So, let’s talk music. You had Bombay, Digits and Mugged, then I feel that trajectory continued via the Starlight Express EP before sorta peaking at Beamer. Beamer felt like a glorious culmination of a life’s work. You went quiet for a bit and even though you put records out it felt to me like you REALLY hit your stride again with Ambience. Would you agree?

Definitely. I think that period in between Beamer and Ambience I was doing so much djing it was a lot harder to churn out music, and people maybe expected another big single after Beamer which never came. For about a year I fell out of love with making music to be honest, I felt there was a lot of pressure and I just wasn’t enjoying creating, I was much preferring being out there playing at festivals and shit. I only fell back in love with it around the time I made Ambience and I think you can probably hear that. 

How long was ‘Ambience’ in the making?

The track itself happened really quickly, I was in the middle of Melé Vanelé 3 and had all these tribal drum led type tracks I was really excited about. I played the demo of Ambience to a few people but they never really lost their shit over it, the demo just had the vocal and the percussion, no 4×4 kick drum or anything. So I decided I was going to stick it on this mixtape and just let people have it for free. I sent it over to Redlight and he got back to me about 2 weeks later, literally the night before I was going to give it away, saying he needed it for Lobster Boy. We had a few Skype sessions going through the tune, taking bits out and adding bits. Then we mixed it and that was that.

‘Queen’s Day’ is the same sonic train as ‘Ambience’, as is ‘Body Thing’, is this more syncopated drum-led sound a more permanent home for you now?

I reckon so yeah. It’s definitely the most comfortable I’ve ever felt making music, and it comes a lot more naturally to me than say, grime or hip hop. Im playing more of my own music in my DJ sets now  – which is really cool. A few of my early releases where in this sort of vein, so I think things have probably just come full circle. I’m kind of over trying to fit every genre under the sun under Melé, it’s a headache!

I’ve heard you play out ‘Senta’ a thousand times, does that percussion almost tribal house sound still resonate?

Haven’t heard that tune for years! I don’t feel like that sound has ever really gone anywhere, its nice to be hearing more percussion driven tracks at the moment though. The amount of “tribal” sounding tracks I’m getting sent after Ambience now is mental, it’s good to see people experimenting again with stuff, it’s never good when every producer sounds the same. I’ve always just made sure my sound comes from me and never by what is hot at the time, it’s good to be original.

Have you found a happier home on Lobster boy?

Lobster Boy has been great, Redlight is really passionate about music and always has crazy ideas for stuff which is sick. It’s a label I’ve always loved right from beginning so it’s been great to release with them.

Correct me if I’m wrong but it’s your most consistent label since Grizzly, right?

I think so yeah, I’ve always liked to jump around labels though…I always like to work with different people and hear their ideas. Sinden taught me a lot early on whilst I was releasing with Grizzly, he’s a legend!

I know you and Redlight were always mates but is it cool to finally put something out on his label?

– answered above i think

From your older stuff, what stood out as being a real highlight?

I really like Melé Vanelé 2. The way it’s mixed, the artwork, the interludes, I did a good job on that one. I think I only started playing my own music in my DJ sets properly within the last year though to be honest, and I only realised how important that is pretty recently. I didn’t play much of my own stuff out because it was a bit all over the place, and to be honest it probably wasn’t at the standard to where I wanted it to be. I feel like I’m there now though.

When you’re approached to remix stuff like Rae Morris, which is so far removed from what you play, does it present a welcome challenge? Do you enjoy it?

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with being able to pull records apart and re-arrange them, I think ever since I started DJ’ing. I’m always listening to tracks and imaging what they would sound like if the arrangement was all in a different place, so being able to do that is what I really like about remixing. Some of the remixes I do I wouldn’t necessarily play in a DJ set, but it’s just my interpretation of how I think

the record should sound. I find a lot of my DJ sets are full of my own edits too, I like putting tracks in ableton and moving the arrangements around a bit.

Are you still putting out music on your own label, Quadrants?

Yes! I’ve got 2 great releases coming out in the next 2 months. The first one is Bakongo which is Roska under a different name. I’ve been battering his track “Grind” for ages and mixing it with a Masters At Work acapella and people keep asking me about it, so I’m really excited about that. And there’s a new producer called Maurice Puls who is sick, he’s making tribal house and techno in his own way which I’m always down for. I would love to start releasing my own music on Quadrants eventually, but I think the plan right now is to keep putting out music I love from other producers.

One thing that kinda made your name was how good at actually DJING you were, the only person I’ve seen how can mix just as fast and tight is Mark Ronson (seriously). Do you still enjoy it as much as you used to?

Thanks! Yeah I love it. People can probably see that because I dance like such a tit when I DJ…I sometimes cringe watching videos back! I’m always thinking about how to make my sets better, constantly on the look out for new music. I annoy my girlfriend I think because I’ll be on my laptop explaining how I’ve found this Kenny Dope b side from 1994 or something. It’s really sick when people tell me that my set made their night or weekend, because I did actually always dream about being able to DJ every weekend. 

Monki once joked to me, after you switched from Serato to USB’s, that you were as ‘irritatingly tight on USBs as you were on Serato’ – do you guys ever get competitive?

Nah i don’t think so! We probably help each other out if anything. That’s been the good thing about the NRG Flash gigs, we both show each other loads of new music we might not have heard, and then we can take that into our solo sets. I struggled with the USB’s at the beginning, was hard to let the laptop go!

What about the physical act of playing out do you enjoy, is it better than producing?

I definitely prefer being out DJ’ing than in the studio, I get much more of a buzz playing my tunes than making them. I recently moved to a new studio space in Farringdon which is really sick though, it’s nice to be able to get in the zone and be as loud as you want. Plus there’s loads of sick people in there, I see MJ Cole, Redlight, Tim Deluxe and loads others every day.. I think it’s helped my creativity a lot…

What was with the comments when you did your first Boiler Room?

So weird! I actually wasn’t on drugs that night, it was a Tuesday night ffs! The amount of people that used to come up to me in clubs and say “YOU WHERE SO FUCKED ON YOUR BOILER ROOM MATE.” I need to go back and look at it…actually there’s some classics on there.

On that note, talk us through NRG flash? What is it and who is involved?

NRG Flash is me and Monki DJing together. Annie Mac asked us both to come on tour with her end of last year, but we didn’t feel so comfortable it just being Melé b2b Monki, it just didn’t really excite us. So we thought we would create this concept where we it would be more of a show rather than us just up there DJing. 

What makes NRG Flash more than just a B2B session?

We take a Roland TR-8 out with us, which is a drum machine with old Roland 808,909 and 707 sounds, so that we can do drum loops and drum fills live over the tracks. It’s really easy to mix in because it has a tempo knob so you can just use it like a CDJ really. We have 3 decks, 2 of which will be the main chunk of the set and 3rd will be for acapellas, loops and DJ tools. So while one of us is mixing, the other will be working getting drum loops or acapellas together. Then we have proper bespoke visuals that were created especially for us by this designer called Lewis Kyle White (who’s done stuff for Dusky and the Bond franchise), which look amazing. So it’s more of a full show than just a standard DJ set. We taking it on the road to our favourite festivals this summer including Lovebox, Parklife and Sonar…so we’re pretty excited for that.

Melé wears; Uniqlo, Levis & Carhartt WIP.

Melé will be performing at Hideout Festival 2016, set on the stunning Zrce Beach on the island of Pag, Croatia between June 26th – 30th. For more info visit: www.hideoutfestival.com

Photography by Rich Maciver

www.soundcloud.com/ukmele 

 

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