Features

I support Ukraine 100%: German DJ Mell G about movin to Kyiv. Interview

Olena Pobochii
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DJ Mell G is an electronic artist from Hamburg, a supporter of electro, ghetto tech, Miami bass, and jungle music. Melina became famous after the beginning of the lockdown when she shared her work on the Internet. Shortly after, her songs Question My Love, fcck as i live, break y0 neck became bangers – and the new part of the artist’s career began.

Not so long ago DJ founded her own label Juicy Gang. And in 2022 she moved to Kyiv and discovered for herself a Ukrainian electronic scene. We have talked with Melina about moving, women in electronic culture, and career plans.

You live in Kyiv for a couple of weeks. What are your pros and cons of living in Ukraine? Is it comfortable here?

I don’t know where to begin. In 2022 I started a new part of my life: I left all negative energy behind and made it to the country where I don’t understand the language, can’t read it, and can only believe my feelings.

I previously performed multiple times in Ukraine and always was surprised by the local mentality. It’s new for me and gives me a feeling of complete understanding and respect I’ve never felt before. It’s important for me as an artist, and I am grateful for this.

Here I work mostly in the music area and thus my music actively improves. Right now I record three to four tracks a week – in Hamburg, I wasn’t able to do that in a month! And my sound changed as I do what I planned to do for a long time.

Every day I meet a lot of people and I can’t believe that I feel so much love, friendship, and trust. And that’s pretty much the same communication area as in Germany, but there I usually had a negative experience.

Overall, I feel good in Ukraine but I don’t know for how long I will be here. I always knew about the political situation with Russia but it escalates right now. I always talk to my friends about it and I discovered a lot – but it’s also what I couldn’t find in the media.

I want to quote a Telegram channel (club on Kyrylivska):

“In those moments we need to unite and synchronize, to support each other. A panic is a powerful tool for destabilizing and we urge our community to be calm and informed.”

I don’t feel panic in Kyiv but I feel a natural fear and it’s hard to accept it. All I can say – I support Ukraine 100%.

Why have you chosen Kyiv for the move? What attracts you here?

In 2021 I visited a lot of cities and countries, and sometimes it was tough for me to fully open up during the performance, especially in Germany. Electro is what I love but I see sometimes that it doesn’t connect to the public.

Kyiv is one of the few cities where I could play all tracks I like, and people danced and enjoyed them like crazy. But in Germany, I once needed to play techno or the dance floor could be empty.

You can say instead, “Don’t change your music for the people!” And I will not! But 2021 was the first touring year for me and I felt safe when people danced and enjoyed themselves. It’s different in Kyiv.

Here people come for my music and my style of play, but also to talk about the music after the performance. I like this – that’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever got.

— I believe you met with the Ukrainian electronic scene. What do you think about it? Who you can single out and why?

I don’t think I know everyone from the Ukrainian electronic scene. But in my opinion, it has a lot of underrated and talented people. Like my friend Raavel who will release his first vinyl on my Juicy Gang Records label. His music inspires me and he says I inspire him. I think he’s one of the best producers I’ve ever met.

Here I also discovered for the first time the works of Omon Breaker. He’s also a cool producer and he will have a release on Juicy Gang Records this year. I support his style of play, and he is a very honest and nice person.

I also wanted to include here Poly Chain. She is kinda the music geek and performs astounding live sets. I begin to learn to perform live – that’s one of my goals for the next couple of years – and I believe Poly Chain can teach me.

I also adore the performer Re:Drum from Odesa. I knew him for several years on Soundcloud, and I’m in love with his distorted electronic sound.

To continue the thread, I’m shocked at how the local club scene is organized. I’ve never met here so many women that promote artists, their info and help with hosting. Go forward, women!

What local clubs have you visited already and what do you think about them?

I visited some clubs in Kyiv: ∄, Keller, Closer, Arsenal, Collider. I’m not a club person – except playing here – but it’s another story. When I visited Kyiv for the first time, I played in at Backyard, and that’s another level of the club history.

I mostly like day/night outdoor parties, so I can’t wait for this summer. In Kyiv, every club has its charm, its uniqueness. The only thing that irritates me is the police presence in front of clubs. But maybe not only Ukraine has this.

What are your plans for the near future? Where, in your opinion, you will move forward? Or will you return to Hamburg?

I have a lot of plans here, especially about producing! Recently I found a studio where I can do this, and I also want to educate producing and DJing. I also understood that Kyiv doesn’t have an electronic music radio station, and, perhaps, there is a choice of working on this with Ukrainians.

On the other hand, I want to go into fashion, but that’s just an idea. I don’t know where I will move to but I wish I can always return to Kyiv. But it’s all up to the political situation. I must return to Hamburg in April but I’ll see what will happen next.

— You’ve said once that many people wonder when they discover you’re a woman. And that the electronic music niche is reserved for men. What, in your opinion, is needed to be done in order to destroy those stereotypes?

 

In order to erase those cliches, it’s important not only to have more women in the line-up. You need to let women form those line-ups. More bookers, promoters, organizers, etc – like in Kyiv.

When you try to establish a club, care about those who work with you, let women improve, and trust them. Stop telling them they are welcome to perform only because of boobs.

And don’t judge us when we show them as men show them as well in front of a DJ set when they “feel hot.” Labels should let women have more opportunities for release. And for great release, not just a collab.

And one more important thing: people shouldn’t be afraid to give constructive feedback about their tracks, recorded sets, and performances. Don’t worry: we can cope with critics, and I think that’s the only way to move forward in music.

When you try to establish a club, care about those who work with you, let women improve, and trust them.

— In the interview for Quarantune magazine, you said that up until 2018 you played trap and hip hop. Why did you decide to change the style? 

Yes, I did. I miss it sometimes! To be fair, I didn’t decide to change my sound, it happened accidentally. Besides trap, my friends played a lot of garage, electro, house, disco, and footwork, so I was always surrounded by different genres.

When I started to DJ, I listened to trap. When I started to play electro, I just listened to electro and the same – with footwork. Thus I always play what I love to listen to then and now.

During this interview, you said that you have never played on big parties before the COVID-19 pandemic, and since the start of the quarantine you released your first tracks. It seems that coronavirus played an important role in your career. How will you develop it after the pandemic and quarantine end?

Yes, the pandemic plays an important role in my career as I’ve played on many events last year and now I release albums on my label. For me, 2022 is a year full of good energy. It’s tough for me to talk about the pandemic’s end – I’ll just keep doing what I can. Maybe, I’ll answer this question after the pandemic ends completely.

Translator: Yurii Lishchuk

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