Ryan Aitchison better known as Mella Dee, has assembled a multitude of releases over the last decade, that have cemented him as one of the biggest names in dance music. A producer that has consistently reinvented himself in the studio, pulling influences from a legion of genres and subcultures has resulted in a discography that is constantly moving forward.
Mella Dee is a dance music figure that is brutally honest, hard working and proud of his roots. A prolific and successful enigma that always champions his genesis through change, adversity and triumph. Starting his career with a string of gritty dubstep and garage immersed records on labels such as Forefront Recordings & Coyote Records. Mella Dee’s sound was instantly recognisable as raw, dirty and grimy. The Doncaster native instantly stood out from an abundance of UK producers who were trying to put their stamp on the sound.
Ryan embodies his hometown Doncaster in every facet of his life and career, through his dress sense, attitude & persona. This feeds directly into his art, through track track names, artwork & sonic’s. He conjoins different ingredients of the UK rave scene into a melting pot of a EP’s and albums. Ryan Atchinson is just quite frankly far from boring.
Hit’s such as Techno Disco Tool, Donny’s Groove, Music Controls You & more have launched the UK producer from grimy basements to headline festival slots. In recent years The Warehouse Music boss has become one of the most in demand names in dance music, receiving massive support from BBC, Circoloco, DJ Mag, Mixmag and further. Various awards, accolades, breakthrough stat’s and more through the years and Ryan still champions his roots and gives back to other artists as much as possible.
We caught up with the Ryan to chat about his ‘Whistle Posse Spangled In The Corner’ EP, his ‘Love It Or Not’ single, his other creative outlets and more.
You’re back busy on tour now, how’s the adjustment been to gigging been since being off for such a long period?
Fun and tiring basically, i’ve just tried to take it as it comes, it was fun to be on the big stages again and now it’s fun being back in the clubs and doing all night sets.
Have you noticed anything different in the parties since returning, are punters going for it more than before?
There’s definitely a lot of energy, i think people are really enjoying themselves and i know i am, I think people are mainly there to dance and just lose themselves.
You held your debut art exhibition along with your ‘Whistle Posse Spangled In The Corner’ EP launch party in a gallery just off of Brick Lane a couple of weeks ago. Has your creative process for drawing helped your creativity when writing music in the studio?
I think it with anything creative it all feeds back, you approach things differently when you spend time outside of what you normally know, it’s the same for just even experimenting sonically as a producer for me, looking for an alternative angle or a way to incorporate something that’s recently had an effect on me.
Are they any other artists you’re taking influence from right now outside of music?
Louis Slater is a great artist from Chesterfield, who runs a great skate store in Sheffield. Really interesting stuff. Corbin Shaw is great, he did lots of work for the recent Homobloc event at the WHP and i fully recommend having a look at his work.
Can you give a back story to the name ‘Whistle Posse Spangled In The Corner’ from your new EP?
It’s just a dedication to the crew that are a bit pickled, in the back of the dance, eyes closed, existing in a different time and space.
The EP represents a club focused body of music, but it’s also very melancholic and great for home listening. Did the time away from the dance-floor steer your creativity in this kind of direction?
Yeah i had time to sit back and work on some ideas other than it always being club driven and also working against the clock due to regular touring and the fact I only really write and work in my studio meant I had little time to really get my head stuck in, so the space and time to think and experiment further lead me down that path.
The EP sounds quite like a short album in the contrast in tracks and the structure of the EP itself. We’re these tracks written with this release in mind or did they fall into place more organically in regards to the time-frame of production?
I basically wrote a lot of music through the last 2 years and its all been considered in general how and where it works, this project was a main focus to it, as Dean Bryce who runs Don’t Sleep got in touch talking about working on a project together, and as we’ve known each other for a long time now it made perfect sense and it was a great new challenge for me to take on.
You collaborated with a number of vocalists on the release, how did the collaborations come about and where did you find your vocalists ?
It felt like the time for me to delve into that territory, writing songs rather than everything just been focused on instrumentals, i’m a big fan of full vocal records so it’s great to see where i can go with that idea, Effie is a friend i met at a party who just happened to have the most incredible voice, such a talented artists and that came together very naturally, Coby Sey & Infinite Coles we’re both linked via Dean Bryce at Don’t Sleep, they we’re both excited to be involved and it was a great process as they all wrote to the music i’d already written and arranged then I just arranged and mixed accordingly to fit it around what i was doing sonically, I feel everyone really understood the emotions I was trying to get across in my writing.
The Whistle Posse EP screams UK rave culture when listening, how are you feeling about the dance music scene in the UK at moment?
It’s great, so much amazing new music across the board and it feels very open, i’m excited to see what’s the to come and to hear the amazing music, i’m excited to hear what the future sounds like, and i think we’re in good hands.
Tell us about the creative process for making your new single ‘Love It Or Not’?
It’s hard to really recall, the feelings are all there in the sound. It’s very much about turning up and being in the studio for me, some days i’m just able to really get what I’m feeling out through the music. It wasn’t a long process, i think from memory it’s largely just based around the middle synth solo, which i probably built around a rhythm first. The bassline was a big driving point as well, it just gave me a progression to work with and build on.
What was it like working with Infinite Coles?
Super easy, it was done remote, and basically the instrumental was sent over as its arranged now and within a short period of time Infinite came back with the vocals and I was blown away, it feels like the mood of what i had wrote was understood and the emotion fitted perfectly, it really was a natural and enjoyable process. Infinite is an amazing talent and I can’t wait to see their rise.
You’ve garnered a name as a prolific producer through out the years, what’s in your studio at the moment ?
A lot of equipment, Bicep’s spare 909 is a centerpiece, my Toft all analogue desk is a key part, it’s what gives everything the main colour and sound, my Eventide H3000 does some heavy lifting on the effects side, it really has a way of transforming sounds, Oberheim Matrix which was a newish addition did a good chunk of the work for Ethereal Chugger, Do U Even Trance M8 and Pure Euphoria. There’s a lot more going on in there as well.
One final question, when’s the bassline EP?
Who knows, i just got sent a load of old Mista Men (a production group I was part of prior to releasing as Mella Dee) stuff that I didn’t have, even unreleased stuff i forgot, its been great playing that out, i’ve wrote a couple more bits and Sidney Street was a full on ode as an EP to that sound. It’s always something thats present in my mind, and elements sneak in to other stuff without it feeling so much like its purely bassline, but i will get round to that.