Mella Dee has put out music across a slew of different labels since the release of his first record proper in 2012, but only now does it feel like we are seeing Mella express himself with the freedom and zest of a producer at his peak.
‘Rhythm Nation Volume One’ – an eight-track beat tape he’s due to release for free via Digital Soundboy on January 19th – follows ‘GT Turbo’, his debut single for Shy FX’s imprint, a breaks-laden monster of a track that accentuated a fresh take on the garage, jungle and bassline that shaped Mella’s early clubbing experiences.
In a way, ‘Rhythm Nation’ is an extension of the territory explored by ‘GT Turbo’ and builds on a sound Mella is beginning to make all his own. Ahead of its release, we caught up with him about the processes behind it and his thoughts on finding a home at Digital Soundboy, plus grabbed an exclusive stream of ’Talkin’ to boot.
Tell us a little bit about 'Rhythm Nation'…
Essentially it’s a compilation of some beats I've been writing since 'GT Turbo' – I've always written a lot of music, and releasing each of these tracks individually wouldn’t really of worked, so it’s a group of the stuff I wanted people to get the chance to hear and play in one bundle, with some club tools and some tracks that work more as singles, too.
It definitely feels like this has been made with your own musical background in mind – how much inspiration do you take from the past?
A heavy amount, it's a case of putting everything that’s inspired me into one thing really, I don't want to just re-create the past though: whether people see it or not there’s different sounds from all sorts of styles, the one main thing for me is it sounding UK.
The concept of a beat tape is an interesting one – why do you think ‘Rhythm Nation’ works in that format?
Not all the tracks are really designed as a full track, some of them are literally more of a club tool, heavy beats and bass, not thinking about them in terms of being a release on their own, so having them as part of a beat tape, that’s kind of a snapshot of what I do, and where my head is at musically makes sense to me.
Could you name your favourite track on the beat tape?
It's probably 'Heaven' that feels like the most achieved track to me, rather than being a straight club tool as such.
This follows 'GT Turbo', your debut record for Digital Soundboy – does it feel like you've found a home at the label? Is this the type of music you want to be making?
Yeah to both! DSB really fits, and it’s great to work with those guys, obviously I think the sound makes sense for what Soundboy is about to. In terms of what I want to be making, basically, I'm having a lot of fun right now writing all this sort of stuff, probably enjoying it a lot more than anything else I've ever actually done.
That said, you've still got a real ambition to experiment with new sounds and ideas – what can we expect from Mella Dee in 2015?
More of the same experimenting – like I said, I write a lot of music! At the moment aside from the hardcore/jungle vibe I write a lot of techno; it’s out and about but I just like for it to do its thing and not really worry about people knowing who it is so much. I want to keep expanding the ideas in where I'm at right now also, just see where I can push myself to as a producer.
Words: Tomas Fraser
Photo: Sarah Ginn