We caught up with Manchester duo Blasha & Allatt who are serving lunch at Berghain on Sunday. We found out how they met, what they would like to see change within the scene and expectations for 2023.
Every duo has a “how did you meet-story”? Wanna tell yours?
Blasha: We met through a mutual friend around 13 years ago and became Facebook friends as you did back in the day! We didn’t actually make contact with each other until a couple of years later when we noticed that we’d both started DJing around the same time. Naturally, we started chatting as we were the only people in our respective circle of friends that were learning to DJ at the time. As they say, the rest is history! For some reason we just always played B2B; there was never a conversation about it, so guess you could say it happened naturally.
What made the two of you a great match?
Allatt: Luckily, we are very aligned as far as work ethic goes, which means we make sure any given task gets done - whether that’s a mix or prep for an upcoming gig etc. Knowing you can rely on each other is crucial really as you can’t function if one of you keeps going rogue!
When we first started on our journey together we had a very similar mindset; we were motivated and most importantly, doing it for the right reasons i.e. for the love of playing.
Ultimately, we were both learning at the same time and quickly became each other's soundboard; able to lift each other's spirits if one of us was disheartened. I remember the pure frustration we both went through whilst learning how to mix on vinyl. Literal tears and maybe a few records thrown across the room, here and there.
Finally, I’d say the fact we’re open to each other’s music tastes is an integral part of playing as a duo. In the early years we played so many different genres and were constantly influencing each other and that still stands today as we’re constantly evolving and pushing our own sound.
How do you usually work together, how does the process look?
Blasha: We do our music research separately which takes up most of our time, then we’ll come together in the studio and just mix. In recent years we don’t need to spend as much time together mixing just because our music tastes are currently so aligned. However, if we’ve both got a new bunch of records that we need to test run, we’ll spend 4-5 hours mixing just to see what does and doesn't work. When we find tracks that work really well together we make a mental note to use those transitions when playing out. Prior to a gig we discuss what type of set we think will work then split our record bag into different sections/sub genres so that we know we are both on the same page. The sections are split up with record dividers so once we finish on one section we’ll progress to the next and this helps us build and progress through a set. Of course, during longer sets we can go back and forth through these sub genres.
For Berliners, who haven’t experienced Meat Free in Manchester, what to expect?
Allatt: You’ll literally be welcomed with open arms! I’m highly biassed but the Meat Free crowd is genuinely one of the best you will find and in my opinion and what makes the party so special. It could be a “headliner” or a local act and the crowd will act the same, regardless.
Our crowd is open minded, vocal, supportive but above all respectful. If you came on your own you’d end up with a few mates by the end of it, no doubt.
As a rule, the UK is pretty restrictive with regards to venue opening and closing times. However, we’ve struck gold with the two venues we use; The White Hotel & The DBA.
Very few parties in the UK have the luxury to open the hours we do due to strict licensing laws, but due to both venues being in Salford (which is slightly more lenient), we’re able to open until 8am at The White Hotel and then continue the party at The DBA from 8am through till 3pm. We don’t know how long we’ll be able to keep going in this format so we’re just enjoying it whilst we can.
How would you describe Manchester’s techno scene at the moment?
Blasha: Manchester’s techno scene is small in comparison to cities like Amsterdam where there’s many stand out collectives running events. There’s a real lack of venues so this really does impact the growth of the techno scene. It’s really hard for new collectives to get off the ground with so much competition for venues and dates but this hasn’t stopped the emergence of parties/collectives such as Tiribä, 01366, Refraction and Mycelium to name a few. Islington Mill - a legendary venue in Manchester has just reopened and taken over by Partisan so we’re hoping to see more nights pop up in the near future.
You recently became residents at Vault Sessions, what does that mean for you and for the dance floors around the world? (More touring etc?)
Allatt: Long before we knew the Vault Sessions guys (shout out both Bas’!) we always admired the parties from afar. Since getting to know them we found that our morals and values are very much aligned as well as musical tastes, so becoming residents felt incredibly natural and a massive privilege.
Needless to say, being a resident for VS has given us a really good platform to showcase our sound and since people/promoters travel all over for these parties it means we’ve reached communities we might not have done previously, so we owe a lot to the residency.
We are doing two Meat Free x Vault Sessions collaborations in 2023; the first of which will take place in Manchester on the 3/4th March and then 26/27th May in Amsterdam.
What is your best memory, playing together, so far?
Blasha: There are so many! A highlight is always our now annual Meat Free New Year’s Day party at the DBA. The vibe here is always unmatched but for some reason NYD is the wildest date of the year. This NYD just gone we had an amazing line up (including AMORAL, Beau Didier, Yant, Bailey Ibbs, Soraya to name a few) and it was just pure joy from start to finish. Lots of familiar faces and memories that will stay with us for a lifetime. There’s nothing like playing for your home crowd.
Another highlight was our Berghain debut in October last year; not because it's the cool thing to say but just because it meant so much that 20+ friends made the effort to come and see us play. Having your closest mates at the front getting rowdy was a good way to settle the nerves. Additionally, it was very special because the line-up was so reflective of bookings at Meat Free over the years such as Ben Sims, Tasha, Regis and of course Steffi, who curated the line-up in celebration of her album launch.
If you could change one thing within the scene, what would that be?
Allatt: I would love the scene to be more patient and less transactional. Readjusting your focus to building your momentum / refining your sound over a number of years should be the goal in my opinion. The scene doesn’t owe you anything so just be grateful for what you have, whether that’s one booking or ten. I see a lot of impatience in the scene; people wanting things quickly and unprepared to work for it. The key is to enjoy the journey and keep looking back at your progress to see how far you’ve come.
What are your plans for 2023?
Blasha: Since its 10 years of MF this year we’ve upped the ante and decided to throw some very special parties including collaborations with Rote Sonne & Vault Sessions (and a few more TBA) plus a party at FOLD later in the year.
On a personal level, our focus is to just keep performing to the highest level we can at every gig. We’ve got some really exciting bookings coming up, so just preparing ourselves for these and enjoying it as much as we can.
We’ll finally be putting some time aside for production and will also be starting a label later on in the year, so lots to be getting on with!