Mella Dee

2012 has been a busy year for Doncaster-based producer Mella Dee. As well as delivering a string of deft dance floor tracks for UTTU as one half of Mista Men, he has been carving out a name for himself with a series of standout solo singles. EPs for Slit Jockey and Coyote Records in the last few months have given him the chance to showcase his solo studio experimentation, exploring elements of house and grime as well as new permutations of the garage and bassline influences that forms the backbone of the Mista Men project. Last month he stepped up to the plate for Forefront Recordings with the ‘Ruff Cuts EP’, which features some of his most vital work to date.

The three-track EP sees Mella Dee dropping the tempo lower than ever before and working a selection of precise and powerful grooves that reference house, garage and grime in equal measures. On the Crazy Titch sampling ‘Gassed’ he sets out his stall with a purposeful swung groove and low-slung bass, utilizing the rhythmic space to build a sense of menacing intensity. ‘Fazed’ re-appropriates the bump of UKG, injecting a touch of sensuality through the drifting female vocals which counteracts the incisive drum line and lumbering bass, while ‘In The Bits’ just straight kicks, coming the closest to a straight house track while retaining the same precision cut force.

In the wake of the release and with a slew of new projects bubbling under the surface I took the chance to catch up with him and find out a bit more about both his solo and collaborative ventures and what he has on the horizon…

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. First up, can you please briefly introduce yourself…

I’m Mella Dee – 1 half of the Mista Men, From Doncaster in South Yorkshire.

The Mista Men project has a strong and focused aesthetic. Is the Mella Dee project a necessary creative outlet for you? Is that freedom something you crave as an artist?

Yeah I think it is, always enjoy just making music, there is nearly always going to be a garage influence but I just like to try different stuff, stops it becoming too predictable.

The stuff you produce as a solo artist has a darker edge to it. Is that a conscious separation you make or a natural inclination in your tastes?

Possibly just a snapshot of my taste at that time. At the moment i’ve been working on a lot of house stuff, not particularly dark, but I’d say it still had an edge to it.

Maybe not always overtly, but the grime influence is something that runs through a lot of your solo work to my ears. Would you agree? Has grime played a big role in your productions over the years?

Yeah there is a grime influence, its one of those things, it played a large part in my music taste, I also think its the bassline influence swell, they both have similar aesthetics.

How would you define the Mella Dee stuff as a separate entity? Are there any fundamental ideas that underwrite it?

I just tend to set out with a sound in mind, I like to work towards maybe thee tracks built around a similar theme/tempo and see how that works, I find it a fun way to keep fresh.

You have got a new EP out on Forefront Records which sees you working at a slower tempo than ever before. Was that a premeditated decision? What benefits do you think working at that tempo affords?

Space and time lets you add swing and leaves you open for lots of percussion etc. Yeah it was just an idea to try and take a grime/bassline sound, but slow it right down and give it a house template, just to see what happened.

Is the EP something you approached as a project in and of itself or is it just a batch of tunes that came from the same sessions?

I did ‘In The Bits’ and was pleased with the outcome, so decided to run another couple as a full EP and see what came of it. I was originally going to use an alias, but decided just to keep it all under the Mella Dee guise.

Its funny that although these tracks work a slower groove, it doesn’t sacrifice any of the movement or power to them. Did this come into play when constructing the rhythms and grooves on these tracks?

I think its probably largely due to me thinking of them in the sense of grime & baseline etc. They’re so full of energy so I was trying to portray that in this EP.

Is this tempo and vibe something you would like to continue exploring?

I’ve worked a lot recently around the 120 mark, I’ve found it’s such a good speed to work at, really enjoy the swing you can get out of it.

With the recently Coyote and Slit Jockey singles and now this, is the Mella Dee project something that you would like to be able to focus more on in the coming months?

Yeah, fully. I have been focusing a lot lately on the solo stuff whilst still finishing Mista Men stuff, it’s been nice to just experiment and see what sounds good.

What’s next for you? Do you have any new releases or projects in the pipeline?

Got some collabs with Squarehead dropping on a couple of house labels very soon and just working on some bits for other labels – obviously more Mista Men stuff in the works, so been pretty busy.