Kiss FM - Dance Music Australia


“I don’t like anything to be too serious!”

If you want to know how a canny creative operates when the industry backs are against the wall, then look no further: UK-based club culture curator and house & techno producer Mella Dee [real name Ryan Aitchison] is here to blaze a brand new electronic path. This time, those paths are split between music and painting… and we’re all here for it. And while some of you will know him for his 2017 club hit ‘Techno Disco Tool’, if there’s one thing this pandemic has done for Ryan, it’s spurred him on to higher creative heights than ever before. His recent ‘Love It Or Not’ single and six-track EP ‘Whistle Posse Spangled In The Corner’ are full of euphoric vocals and massive club moments. Just don’t ask him to make another ‘…Disco Tool’ because he’s never looking back. “There’s no point me trying to like attach myself to anything,” he shrugs. “I just like to follow my thing. I mean, there’s a common thread and that thread is me… without sounding too freakin’ arrogant!”

So now the real question is how quickly you move when the cogs and wheels are moving so darn fast. Or as Ryan says: ‘it’s gone from zero to a hundred right quickly hasn’t it!” It has indeed. And boy, are we ready for it. As a producer, Ryan’s stance is simple: always keep marching forward: onwards, if you will. Ask him who he’d most like to collaborate with from the electronic landscape and he says without a moment of hesitation: the legendary techno DJ and producer Mad Mike from Underground Resistance in Detroit. “I think he works in a car garage sometimes!” laughs Ryan. “He just doesn’t give a fuck.”

That sense of being carefree is important to Ryan: he’s a fan and a grafter but not someone who agonizes. And that’s worked brilliantly for him so far. He’s a Circo Loco favourite who has not only delivered an Essential Mix and a debut Boiler Room but an artist who’s also toured North America – including Chicago’s legendary Smart Bar. Closer to home, however, things are moving even faster. He’s just completed an ‘All Night Long’ tour where he performed at over 11 nights in the UK and Ireland. It included sold out dates at Dublin’s Index, Newcastle’s World Headquarters, the mighty Village Underground in London and a homecoming show at The Warehouse in Doncaster. “Yeah, things are always exciting,” he smiles in reference to the rave. “You don’t know what’s coming up, do you! I’ve always found it weird when people talk about being born in the wrong era. You know, we’ve lived our lives going through baseline, rave and stuff like that and while some of it is continuation, there’s always something new happening around that: there’s exciting stuff going on all of the time. For example, there are so many incredible queer parties right now.”

The new music is similarly scattershot in spirit. The much anticipated single ‘Love It Or Not’ with Infinite Coles, was Ryan’s first release on Pete Tong’s Three Six Zero label. And just a few weeks before, Mella Dee released ‘A Little Longer’ also featuring fellow Don’t Sleep signee Infinite Coles, the son of Wu Tang icon Ghostface Killah. This new fresh prince is a leading figurehead of LGBTQ+ communities and their collaboration features Infinite Cole’s vocals over one of Ryan’s super-heavy basslines: it’s already been heavily supported across Radio 1 by Clara Amfo and Sarah Story and in the clubs from Solomun and Roman Flugel to The Blessed Madonna to name a few. ‘Ethereal Chugger’ with fast-rising newcomer Effie was another organic collaboration. He’s thinking about an album and a live show (“I just want to keep it interesting”) but it’s still early doors on both fronts. Ask him to name a timeless dance album that inspires him and he opts for Goldie’s debut album…. ‘Timeless’.

You can often tell who an artist is aligned with by the company they keep and with the musicians they admire: and that’s certainly true of Mella Dee. The DJ he admired the most when he was alive was the incomparable producer Andrew Weatherall. But in the here and now, he’s keen to give props to both Paul Woolford and HAAi. So the reinvention is important? “Yeah, experimentation even if it’s not wild experimentation is important! It’s just about trying different sort of ideas across different sonic landscapes. I do think HAAi is incredible and Special Request as well.” Would you say you’re a hard taskmaster on yourself? “Yeah, for sure. I’m not a perfectionist in any way and I don’t care about perfection because I don’t think you can achieve that. But what’s important to me is that I like to keep working, keep driving and keep…alive!” Here, here.



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