In London, Hannah Holland has become a key player in the alternative and queer club scene. Entering the East End scene in the mid-noughties, when the all there was to offer was Shoreditch-based gay pub George & Dragon, Hannah then became a resident at On The Rock’s iconic Trailer Trash parties. At those early events, Hannah would focus on electro house whilst at her Batty Bass parties, Hannah has the creative freedom to explore all influences, bringing a melting pot of electro inspired techno, drum’n’bass and jungle – sounds she immersed herself at the late-Sunday Metalheadz parties. It was those electrifying sessions that inspired Hannah’s recent EP ‘Mutualism’, released on Batty Bass.
Launched in 2009, Batty Bass gives Hannah the opportunity to house friends and like-minded producers such as Josh Caffe, Mama, Lauren Flax, Dan Beaumont and The Deadstock 33’s. Last year, the label made a comeback with their East London party series, inviting affiliates as well as international artists such as The Carry Nation and Panorama Bar’s Virginia.
Now facing the ever-changing landscape of UK’s nightlife scene, we catch-up with Hannah to discuss ‘Mutualism’, the art of soundtracking films and the process behind her Batty Bass label.
You play an integral part in London’s queer scene, how have you seen it change over the years? What are some of your favourite earlier memories of it?
I think the biggest change was about 10 years ago it went from being weekly clubs, literally, every night of the week had something on, whether it was Trash on Mondays at The End, Wednesdays Nag Nag Nag, Fridays Ghetto, Sunday Dove Bridge etc. The scene thrived and you were meeting people week in week out and forming close friendships and experiences. I think with the rising cost of everything, together with people finding connections and music on the internet, the weekly died a sudden death. Some of my favourite memories were Nag Nag Nag in very early 00’s, every Wednesday, the club was genuinely diverse, very artistic, interesting people coming together, a real melting pot of London, with electroclash, techno, punky soundtracked by Jojo De Freq. It was the rise of Peaches, Miss Kittin and The Hacker, DJ Hell etc. Pop Stars every Friday around ’98 where they’d played indie from ’80s to ’90s, The Cure, Pulp, Siouxsie The Banshees etc, with all these arty queer kids, it was a riot. Other clubs like Heaven, Sub Station and Retro Bar offered such great stuff from what I remember. London has such a creative force, there’s always been something, somewhere amazing happening, despite what people might think.
Do you feel that the approach and meaning behind queer spaces have changed?
They have always been some kind of safe haven. Dalston Superstore is my favourite, they are open throughout the day and have delicious food, as well as great club nights. There aren’t so many dedicated queer venues, rather nights that move around to different spaces. It seems that events are very specific about the crowd they want to attract. Which makes things very separated and that is a real shame to me in some ways, but I understand the need.
‘Artist’ from your recent ‘Mutualism’ EP pays homage to your Sunday’s spent at the Metalheads parties, why do you think those nights had such a profound effect on you and how did they shape you as an artist?
I remember cueing up, the area seemed desolate, pretty much the opposite of what it is now. Once inside you felt like you were in another world. Downstairs by the speaker is where my friend and I would plant ourselves and just dance like crazy for 4 hours. It felt like you were inside the speaker! We never really spoke, just danced and savoured the atmosphere. There were so many moments where you had complete full body goosebumps from how thrilling the music and vibe was. That is something I always strive to give a crowd as an artist and promoter.
Is there a particular story or event that inspired the creation of ‘Mutualism’? Where did the name for the record come from?
The name comes from taking inspiration and energy from the crowd and having a mutual exchange, I throw back to them what they give to me, a mutual exchange. The collection of tracks came about very close to each other. I was really enjoying playing around with certain breaks elements and drum machines + was listening to a lot of early Warp era music while I was travelling. Also, I went to see Orbital over the summer, which kind of kick-started a few beats after being so energised from the gig.
Where do you mainly source inspiration for your music?
Everywhere, I listen to a whole range of music from film scores to heavy dub, to electronica to post-punk, endlessly falling in love with new music and making new discoveries. I get totally obsessed by certain musicians or filmmakers, read endless books and rinse youtube of every interview and video. These things all give me inspiration no end.
With remixes from Alinka, Joyce Muniz, The Carry Nation on the EP, how do you go about selecting your remixes and what do you think each of these artists brings to the record?
Firstly I think of who might like the music and who id like to work with, the 3 of them are incredibly talented and I love their work. They are all good mates, so it made a perfect little family for this release. It’s really cool to go off on a sonic journey with each other and see where the music takes us. For instance, the first time I played Joyce’s mix was at Panorama Bar with her standing by me, the whole room set alight and that was an unforgettable moment of joy! Like, we made this happen! For the Mutualism EP, The Carry’s, as always, brought their distinct NYC rhythms and flavour, Alinka brought the CHI bonkers wildness and Joyce really bought the low-end bass!!
Having been working on a film score earlier this year, what’s the process like when you’re scoring and how does it differentiate from your usual production process?
It’s very different and I really enjoy collaborating with another artist’s vision, as well as getting inside a characters head or the atmosphere of a scene. In a way its very similar to DJing, you judge an atmosphere and provide a soundtrack to create a mood or enhance a situation, sometimes it’s cushioning a moment and sometimes it’s creating a dramatic effect. I love being able to use my brain in a way that I’ve learnt through nearly 2 decades of DJing and making music, and put it towards my love of film and constantly learn new ways of making music.
With running the Batty Bass label and party series, how do you select artists to release and play at the parties? Are they usually friends of yours or are you open to artists sending in demos?
With the label, most of the releases have been with people I’ve had a connection with, whether friendship or DJing or met and got on an artistic level. The tracks obviously have to be music which I love, but I’ll equally have a great love for the artist behind them. It’s a pretty similar process for the events, but I’m equally always up for reaching out to emerging artists and hearing new sounds!
‘Mutualism’ is out now on Batty Bass Records – buy here.