“The strangest situation was in 2018 when I got a phone call saying The Prodigy want me on tour,” electronic musician Melé says. “That blew my mind.”
It was a full-circle moment for the Liverpool-born DJ and producer who, despite a meteoric rise to prominence over the past decade, still finds himself awestruck at his success. The Prodigy was the reason the 29-year-old first got into electronic music when he was better known by his birth name, Krissy Peers. “My uncle took me to see The Prodigy when I was 13,” he reveals. “I specifically remember my life changing that night. I wanted to start making music and I knew this was going to be my job. I’m really lucky to have that because a lot of people don’t find it until later in life.”
Since then, Melé has worked tirelessly to achieve his position as a revered selector and producer. In the past decade, he has notched up hundreds of thousands of streams across his discography, his tracks have achieved dance chart success and he’s developed a niche sound of his own: utilising the influences he grew up listening to — from hip-hop to various club-focused labels — Melé’s smorgasbord of sound is conventionally described as tribal house but really borrows from elements across world music-influenced house, transatlantic hip-hop, and classic Chicago grooves. Despite worldwide recognition, festival appearances and radio shows, Melé’s still can't believe how far he's come, ensuring his humility eclipses his ego. “I still struggle with people coming to see me play,” he admits. “That still blows my mind a little bit.”
Following his debut in 2008, the Liverpool artist’s music has resonated consistently with fans and tastemakers around the world. He’s released on several influential labels, including DJ Haus’s Unknown To The Unknown and Defected Records, but it was the 2015 carnival-charged track ‘Ambience’ which kickstarted his prolific career. “It’s all been such a blur because I came straight out of school and started doing this,” he says. “I’ve never had another job before. I never took it in when I was 22, but now I’m a bit older, I take things in a lot better.”
The sound Melé has become renowned for is one he credits from having moved to London from Liverpool at 18 and being influenced by the melting-pot of cultures in the ethnically diverse city. He would go to different parties every weekend, soaking up DJs spinning tracks that skipped across genres with ease and allowed him to listen to music from around the world. “You didn’t have one style of music,” he says. “We were getting grime, house, tribal house and garage all in the same night. It was this excitement of hearing music you’ve never even heard of before, and it was that excitement of ‘I got to go back and register all that stuff for the first time’.”
Once he gained sufficient prominence, Melé was on the road constantly. He played both underground parties as well as festival slots including Gilles Peterson’s lauded Worldwide Festival and the legendary Elrow in Barcelona. He’s also taken on US tours, playing the likes of EDC Vegas and EDC Mexico, CRSSD, Smart Bar (Chicago), Sound (LA), Halcyon (San Francisco) as well as being confirmed for what would have been Coachella’s 2020 edition at the Yuma stage. Other accolades include BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix, which he recorded in 2019, further cementing his status as an artist who is respected within the electronic music industry and by fans all over the world.
When the pandemic struck, Melé’s hectic touring schedule suddenly stopped. He took the opportunity to refocus on his production, spending countless hours in his studio in Liverpool. What followed was a slew of EPs including ‘Conga Mode’ and ‘The Panther’ (released on Circus Recordings) as well as remixing Armand Van Helden, Tom Everett, Josie Man and collaborations with Grammy-winning producer Fraser T Smith. “I was trying to get focused back in the studio,” he says. “I’m not the type of [producer] that can write on the road. I’ve tried it for 10-plus years. I can’t make music when I’m travelling. I took out a lot of old records and just used the time to reconnect with music.”
Melé also took the opportunity to rethink how his renowned party, BAD, in his hometown of Liverpool, could work. He relaunched it as a series of socially-distanced Club Bad events through the 2021 summer while debuting a brand-new merchandise collection via the Club Bad & UN:IK collaboration. The label arm of BAD has previously released the likes of Bontan, Joeski, Yolanda Be Cool, Salvia Commandos, Ossie, Ben Gomori and Melé himself. But he also wanted to ensure that the label arm of BAD would realign with his newfound sense of self.
“It reflects the music we play at the party and the music I play in my DJ sets,” he says. “The first few releases were a bit all over the place; like anything, it takes time for you to find your feet. Sometimes you want the complete opposite of what people think that you will release. I want something to blow [audiences’] minds, like ‘I wish I would have thought of that or wish I made that record’. It's difficult now because everything's so oversaturated. It is difficult to have longevity.”
Now that he’s had time to rest and recuperate, Melé is itching to tour again, especially since his highly-anticipated Australian tour was cancelled. With a slew of planned releases in place — including some top-secret collaborations and projects — Melé is embarking on a summer tour across countries and cities which he’s looking forward to with bright eyes. He plays DJ Mag's Miami pool party on 23rd March. Learn more about that here.
“I’ve loved reconnecting with everything,” he says. “Because when you’re doing it all day, every day, you can get a little bit burnt out. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do is sit in front of the TV and play FIFA, and the last thing I want to do in here is making records, but I've gotten it out of my system now where I can reconnect with music, I can put music on in the house constantly. A lot of gratitude came out of [the pandemic]. Now, when I do go and do shows or travel, I realise how blessed I am and I don’t think I’ve had that in the past few years.”