I love every new year, I find excitement from the fact that the year ahead will hold fresh new music to listen to and new events to experience. This is the attitude that I hold at the start of January and try and keep this for the entire year. So it was a great start to 2018 when last month when I visited my third night in Manchester, the party providing heat up north, the independent workings of Oasy.
Run by DJ and promoter, Cal Newton, he has taken the brand from strength to strength from its inception in 2016. They have toured the clubs of the north from Manchester to Leeds bringing artists like DJ Haus, Mak and Pasteman, DJ Boring and many others to a fashionable, music hungry clientele, smashing each night out the park and gaining a strong following in the process.
I started to speak to Cal in early December as his most recent booking really caught my interest. I have followed the music and work of Ryan Aitchison for a few years now, from his breakbeat rave beginnings, through his techno period and now to the inception of his label, Warehouse Music, that won DJ Mag ‘Best Breakthrough Label’ award in 2017. I speak of course of South Yorkshire made DJ and producer, Mella Dee.
Another night in the northern quarter means another pre-party at Eastern Bloc to visit before the main event kicked off at 11pm. I walk in and mingle in with the crowd for a bit, observing the mixing talents of Jono and Ted, the Oasy residents, warming up the crowd with a collection of varied BPMs, their own unique brand of house and disco. Playing the majority of their set on vinyl, the track names were a secret guarded in the wax, but one thing is for certain that they knew how to spin them.
The garage-esque rhythms of Frits Wentinks remix of Future Imperfect, really got the crowd swaying as the man of the evening, Mella Dee entered the room. He stood chatting with Cal and Max Wyatt, (owner of Dansu Discs label) who were set to play alongside the main act later that evening. Overlooking the residents they slip in a few final bangers before proceeding to drop a club winner from 17′ a remix of Theme From Q by Objekt. The sound rumbled through the tightly enclosed space, it’s surprising how the two in-house RCF speakers give such kick.
Halfway through the evening, Mella Dee takes position behind the decks, taking his jacket off and taking a sip of coffee in preparation for his pre-party set. He quickly flicks through his vinyl selecting Dominas by Carl Craig as his first tune to begin his set. Going from one vinyl to the next, he keeps the crowd entertained with a medley of beats from the up-tempo flavours of You Can’t Hide From Your Bud by DJ Sneak to the thudding bass of Auto Porno (D.Ramirez remix).
The crowd watch his every move and listen with intent, waiting for each record drop with growing eagerness. He continues to bring the elation higher by bringing in Dancer by Robert Hood, a disco house groover with a trumpet sample line that is impossible not to dance to. The crowd are making a quick time order at the bar then return straight back to the dancefloor, more time for dancing is essential for Oasy guests. The warehouse music label owner looks focused in his work, blending from one tune to the next with ease.
As the time for last orders comes around, Mella Dee drops in the breakbeat vibes of Underground Resistance via the track Final Frontier, the acidic grooves keep the crowd stomping along. It’s great to see that these iconic dance music tunes, straight from the birthplace of Techno in Detroit, get some play time amongst a world of modern electronic music, respect and appreciation for the old school is something that will always be a factor in the underground scene.
I head down the road at 11pm to Texture to begin the second part of the evening. The room is pretty much empty this point but gives me chance to photograph the Oasy residents at work, playing a mixture of beats and happily swapping in b2b formation. They select a couple that ring familiar to me, the first was United Booty by DJ Clouds, released on independent label/clothing brand Dr Banana. The second was the tribal rhythms of Rio Citrus by Majora, picking up the pace as the room started to fill up.
The Trance like vibes of Sonter (released by our friends at La Dune) vibrate through the floor, the uplifting pads echo across the dancefloor aided by the Nova sound system in place for the evening. As I said in the last dancefloor report it’s really interesting to witness these euphoric uplifting house tracks being heard in the underground scene once again, a tribute maybe to the 90s culture revival we are experiencing in the past year, that vintage sound or feel to everything we experience is the new modern.
The DJing duo continue there step with a host of bangers, freshly selected from the electronic market, from the space age feels of Hugo Massien in Messier 77 to the old sound vibes of X-coast in Todos Los Latinos. The room is really starting to fill up now, the blue light flickers around the grooving crowd lighting up the shapes pulled by people on the floor. In the background the Oasy logo shines brightly in a projection image, this was combined with an array of laser visual shapes, beaming through the disco smoke. All this blended to the sounds made for an all-around exciting sensory experience.
Cal steps on stage and begins his set with full force, dropping in the ghetto acid sounds of Play With My Bassline by Paul Johnson. The levels are raised, the pace is now set for a night of raving. He carefully blends in the random bass wobbles of EF40 by Martyn, which is a winner on the dancefloor. Max from Dansu Discs is up next bringing in the new school sounds of Dubelle Oh XX (Jvip) by Denis Sulta.
The event and label heads look composed behind the decks, fully integrated with their b2b mix. The pair continue their blend of styles bringing the crowd up with the drop of each beat. Hands are thrown in the air to the vocals of Cajmere in Brighter Days, the switch up in genres is blended perfectly between beats. Towards the end of the pairs’ set they ramp up the speed with UK bass tracks like Drift Furioso, a cheeky token track, which everyone who grew up in 00s era can relate to.
Mella Dee jumps on the decks at 2am starting off with a recent favourite of mine, Sisco Visco by Nyra, straight from DJ Haus defected compilation (definitely a recommended buy) He mixes into techno stompers, making the crowd clap and bounce ecstatically to the rhythms. Behind the decks, he is like a man possessed, but in the very best way, his head nods furiously to the beat, grooving to the banging track he is playing. He continues this pace by selecting It Dub by Mr.G as his next dancefloor weapon.
I take this point to wonder through the crowd, people are really in the soul of the music now, twisting and spinning. They make for good photographs! The kick drums pound through the speakers but then slow into the 90s era sounding, The Resistance by Scan 7. The catchy piano line keeps the loyal crowd dancing onward. Mella Dee keeps his cool whilst in the mix, it’s great to observe a DJ like that at work, they have developed their own sound through trial and testing, now knowing what songs to select perfectly for the rave.
As the final half an hour approaches, you know its almost time for the song that everyone has been waiting for. Mella Dee is known for his love of warehouse raves and the sounds that represent that scene. Warehouse music’s logo pays is a tribute to the infamous Doncaster warehouse and is hand stamped on every vinyl pressed by his label. The one released with the striking neon lime green artwork and vinyl. He drops in Techno Disco Tool and the crowd cheer as the uplifting and soulful high energy stomper rings through the entire room of Texture.
So my nights in Manchester finish on an ultimate high. Got to watch a brilliant DJ, took some cool snaps, had a drink and met sound music heads in the process (shouts to the Oasy crew). Can’t really ask for much more from a night out in the northern city!