The latest edition of the 1 More Mix series is brought to you by the stupendous sounds of MEL. A career with humble rock and metal beginnings in 2011 paved the way for a journey that’s been going from strength to strength ever since her first Camden gig.
Her latest release After All with Gid Sedgwick, MEL’s first ever vocal collaboration, dropped earlier this month on UKF and gives off real melodic, heavy dancefloor vibes; a fusion that’s become a dominant characteristic in MEL’s signature.
In this interview we get a taster of how MEL progressively got into D&B through her love of other artists, we talk about the importance of track knowledge as a DJ, her take on the drum & bass sound at the moment and the difference between a radio set and a club or festival mix, just like this one…
Boundary breaking and nonconforming, MEL has continued to achieve by releasing on heavyweight labels including Viper, sending out shellers in Berlin and Paris this summer, plus a debut at Ministry Of Sound. Years of dedication and graft have secured MEL regular slots on KOOL FM and Data Transmission where her In The Lab With MEL show has featured guest mixes from artists like The Prototypes. Spinning drum & bass of all eras and subgenres also earned MEL her debut RAM Records and BBC Radio 1 mixes respectively.
From dingey dive bars to soon sharing the stage with neuro royalty like Black Sun Empire, Optical and Killbox, the rise of MEL has been phenomenal and is real testament to over a decade of relentless effort. A tunnel vision approach to her work is a benchmark for aspiring DJs and producers to knuckle down and go for it.
So get the headphones on, crank those speakers up and read on as we learn about all things MEL.
Wow! Super hard mix there with past and present bangers, thank you! How did your journey as an artist begin?
I’ve been DJing for over a decade. It all happened by chance way back in 2011 when I visited my mate who was working in a bar. It was dead so we decided to have some fun with the grubby 1000s in the corner and that’s where I learned the basics. My first proper gigs were DJing in dingey dive bars in Camden, playing rock and metal – I’ve always had such a broad taste in music. Having a love of the likes of The Prodigy, Pendulum, and Chase and Status meant I just naturally transitioned into D&B over the years and I’ve never looked back.
Have you faced many challenges along the way and how did you overcome them?
When I first started DJing people didn’t take me seriously, I’m not entirely sure if that’s down to being a woman. Things have progressed in the right direction compared to back then but it certainly felt that way. I just told myself I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, just have fun and enjoy what I’m doing. I didn’t get into DJing for others’ approval, I DJ because I love music! I’m glad I gave myself that pep talk because that sort of thing can easily make somebody feel discouraged or knocked back and if I stopped DJing then, I wouldn’t have achieved all of the things I have done recently.
Absolutely. Let’s get into the mix, drum & bass heads of all generations catered for there! Do you always like to mix it up with different eras?
Yes always! I think it’s important as a DJ to have extensive tune knowledge and to have versatility. I love mixing old vs new and digging deep for tunes that people might have forgotten about, I like it when people are taken by surprise by a curveball in the mix.
Would you say this mix is a reflection of what you’d push out in a club or at a festival?
Yeah totally! for me It’s all about the energy and dropping the hard hitters when you’re playing out live and working with the crowd reaction. When it comes to my radio shows on Kool FM and Data Transmission I feel like I can work with different sounds in D&B like liquid, minimal and jungle as well as the hard hitting side of things.
We’ve seen your sound gain some real traction recently with releases on some major labels! How would you describe your sound?
To have my music signed to RAM, UKF and Viper is a dream come true! My sound would definitely sit somewhere between neuro and the harder side of dancefloor, adrenaline soaked, big basslines, thumping kicks!
Your latest release After All with Gid Sedgwick dropped on September 14, congratulations on a really solid track! How did that come about?
Thanks! Raiser actually introduced me and Gid to each other and said we must work together! The rest is history really. It’s my first time working and collaborating with a vocalist and I’m so pleased with how it turned out, me and Gid have been sitting on this tune for about a year now, so pleased it’s finally released to the world, the feedback so far has been so positive.
So it should be! We’re coming out of the strongest festival season we’ve had since the pandemic, how has your summer been?
This summer has been fun! I’m so grateful to have the opportunities I’ve been met with. Playing my first ever Germany and Paris shows and also my Ministry Of Sound debut, as well as playing shows for the Neuroheadz lads in Bristol. This summer I also had my RAM Records debut, so it’s been pretty successful I’d say.
Definitely! You mentioned Neuroheadz. We’re seeing neuro returning to the forefront of drum & bass, especially out of the UK at the moment. How do you feel about this?
I naturally feel great about this, there really needs to be more neuro raves in the UK so I’m hoping this is the push that makes that happen!
Fingers crossed. I mean D&B full stop is in a really interesting place across the entire spectrum isn’t it? What’s your take on this?
I think things always work in cycles and trends, no matter what creative field you are in. Some trends you’ll absolutely love, get on board with, take elements of that trend and incorporate it into your work. But other trends won’t be your cup of tea, which is why I think it’s important to stay true to yourself and your own sound, even if you feel like you can’t get onboard with parts of the D&B scene at the moment, just keep going in your own lane, doing your own thing. I do however think Chase and Status’ chart success is well deserved and a positive thing, hopefully this is a gateway for people to get into drum & bass, they were actually one of my gateway artists all the way back in 2008 and now look!
This is it. We need these gateway moments to inspire the next generation. So lastly, what’s in the pipeline for you in the future? Any exciting plans?
Very soon I’m DJing the main room at The Steel Yard for Virus x Blackout along with the likes of Black Sun Empire, Killbox, Optical and The Upbeats, I can’t wait!
MEL & Gid Sedgwick – After All
Metanoia – The Edge
DC Breaks & Prolix – Purge
Metanoia – Revolver
2Whales – Move
Coppa & Exile – Horned Herds
Gydra – Morai
Kumarion – Pure Action
Grafix – Acid Generation
The Upbeats & Noisia – Shibuya Pet Store
Oakwite – Labyrinth
MEL – Telekinesis
SLWDWN – Get High
Cliques – Vision
Asana – Racehorse
Killbox – Dab Lab
Basstripper – In The City
RAM Trilogy – Titan (Shimon Remix)
Chase & Status – International (Dimension Remix)
Concorde Dawn – Morning Light
DJ Fresh – Signal
Teddy Killerz – Hyperspeed (Raiser Remix)
Rebel Scum – Destroyer (feat. Mad Rush)
Konflict – Messiah (Magnetude Remix)
Sub Focus – Time Warp
The Prodigy – Omen (Sovryn Bootleg)
Mind Vortex – Onslaught
Lexurus – The Funk
Mampi Swift – Rebirth
Cabin Fever – Hard Goin’
Knife Party – LRAD (The Prototypes Remix)
RAM Trilogy – Screamer VIP
L Plus – Monsters (feat. The Ragga Twins)
Noisia & The Upbeats – Dead Limit
Zigi SC – Stepper (Absu_NTQL Remix)
Teddy Killerz – I’m Doing It
Tantrum Desire – Rhythm
Junk Mail & Mob Tactics – Candyman
The Prototypes – Humanoid
Sub Focus – Let The Story Begin
Dimension – Hatred
Drumsound & Bassline Smith – Nexus
Bladerunner – Don’t Break It
Millbrook – Broken Love
Northbase & Kitcha – Tough
Qzma & Grinder – Bulldozer
Halogenix – Tekina
Rockwell – User
Tantrum Desire – The Arena
Chroma – Grind House
Beeson & Dynamite MC – Til 4am
Camo & Krooked – All Night
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