Melé moved from his native Liverpool to London to pursue his career as a DJ when was eighteen, which is damn young to launch a career in an incredibly competitive field in a city that can be incredibly isolating. As he says in this interview, it was difficult at first, but in the years since he's developed into one of the capital's most coveted performers; characterised by his high-energy sets and diverse track selection, covering oldschool house, 90s rap, and Latin American beats; sometimes sequenced at the same time. He's playing fabric's Forms launch party this Friday 19th January; a new fortnightly event series designed to give a platform to young, local, underground, often marginalised DJs. We spoke to him about how he sees this mission working out in practice, the changing landscape of London nightlife, and more.

Are you looking forward to your set at Forms? I know you’ve played at fabric before, but is there anything particularly distinctive or exciting about this time, being a launch party for a new initiative?

I’ve played it a few times, since I moved down to London when I was eighteen and played Room 1 a lot; they used to give me the 10-12 slot – and then literally the week before it closed I played with Groove Armada in Room 1 and it was one of the best gigs of my life. London used to be very difficult, mainly because there was a lot going on. The shows were never that great in London on a whole, but since it’s reopened fabric’s run has been incredible; I played a few months back, but this time it’ll be the same night as Skream and Krystal Klear, two of my favourite DJs so I can’t wait for that.

You mention London used to be more difficult, particularly for young DJs, because the market was so saturated; I guess that’s what Forms is trying to address, giving these young, local – not just London but British – DJs a platform, how do you see this working out in practice?

I hope it’s successful; from what I’ve seen there’s not planned massive lineups, in terms of number of DJs playing each room, it’s like three in each room, so they have time to properly go for it. That’s cool, it’s exciting times for fabric actually. Since it’s reopened it’s almost restarted, as if beginning again. I think this night looks really cool.

That’s an interesting point, like it was a near-death experience that inspired them going back to their roots. How drastically has London’s nightlife changed six/seven years on from when you first moved down? You were saying it’s improved? Lots of nightclubs have closed down and nightlife’s revenue has decreased significantly, which is terrible in most ways, but has this decreased competition improved the standard of the nights?

I don’t know, it’s hard to say definitively. I don’t go out as much as I used to, as a clubber. When I first moved to London I was out every other night, you know nights at Plastic People like FWD>>, there was a lot going on, a lot of good stuff, but there was also a lot of average stuff. But I don’t really go out that much any more. I know there’s a lot of good going on; London especially has grime which is great, rather than a focus on house. On New Years’ Eve I played The Nest, which has been there for a long time, and that’s a really good venue in London, small and intimate, so there are these iconic places scattered throughout. London’s such a huge city, there’s a lot of space to fill and music to cater for; so many people want to go clubbing but have such different tastes in music, well, electronic music anyway. I think in the last few years, to me anyway, when I do go out, the night’s have been better; the music, the mixing, the crowd.

That’s interesting to me, there’s that language in some parts of the media surrounding venues like Printworks and Phonox, where they're being described in terms like “the saviour/future of London clubbing” etc. because they’re being so carefully cultivated and offer something that taken from a distance is distinctive from most commercial venues in London, not just in their music but in the overall experience, have you been to either yet?

I haven’t been to Phonox since it reopened [under previous ownership it was called Plan B] but I’ve heard it’s amazing. I think the no phone rule they have there is really important. I play a lot of shows and sometimes you see people making snapchats and that seems more important than dancing and listening to the music, with social media it’s as if it’s more important to show people you’re having a good time than actually having a good time. Stuff like that is quietly important. Tobacco Dock and Printworks are the most insane venues, they’re just crazy next-level stuff. I went to the opening night at Printworks, and, while in awe of how impressive it is, I kept thinking how interesting it will be to see it develop over the next few years, if it changes clubbing.

How does London compare to Liverpool and the North, in offering young, talented DJs a platform?

I think in cities like Liverpool it’s a lot easier; it’s a lot smaller and if a young DJ wants to start a night it’s more convenient for them to do so. If you’re really into your music and a good DJ you’ll probably get a gig. With London it’s so different; it’s huge. I usually see in smaller cities younger DJs I’ve never heard of before and they’re amazing. This isn’t UK based, but when I was in Australia playing one of the smaller cities that were so small they had basically only one proper club night, and the warm-up DJs were fucking unbelievable, and they were so, so young. It’s easier to thrive as a DJ in a smaller city.

fabric are trying to ease the road for younger DJs to progress in London, but do you think that’s the best route for DJs still developing, or is there also worth going elsewhere to “earn your stripes” and grow?

I think it’s really important to do the residency thing. Nights have made more of a point in the last few years in having a real resident. That’s something I never had, I went straight into DJing sets when I was eighteen, and wasn't consistently being a resident or warm-up. It didn’t really help, that approach. It took me a few years to find out what kind of DJ I wanted to be and how I wanted to play. Back then I was playing clubs like how I played my bedroom; just smashing it in, and not knowing how to warm up or stuff like that. It is important to earn your stripes and have those roots to learn.

Similar to when football clubs send their promising youngsters on loan to develop in a proper environment I guess?

Exactly man, it’s vital to do it. I’m so glad that clubs have made a real point of it last few years.

Are there any DJs from this Forms series that you’re especially keen on or would like to shout out?

Haven’t had a chance to check out the rest of the lineups to be honest man, but Kincaid & Sinàl who are playing the same room as me, they’ve had a release on Skream’s label that I played a lot last Summer, very cool techno vibes, so I’m excited to see them.

Can you give us any hints behind any records you might be playing advance?

I always really tend to play quite differently when I play at fabric, I think everybody does. Because the sound system’s so good in there, and the way the rooms are, it’s really good to play your own stuff, but there’s a new In The Stars EP on Crosstown Rebels that’s pretty amazing, looking forward to playing that. This has been my first gig since New Years’ Eve so I’ve got a load of stuff I’m keen to play. I just got sent a whole folder of old Armand Van Helden remixes, some of which might never come out, so that’ll be cool. I’m always making edits and stuff, got a new Chemical Brothers one I’m excited to spin.

You can buy tickets for the Forms launch party here.