From creating one of electronic music’s most popular channels, to their label Suah and their own cutting edge productions, Mia Mendi are taking the progressive house world by storm. We had a chance to catch up with them on the cusp of a new EP for Rhetorical Music.
Hey Guys, thanks for joining us today, tell us a bit about yourself, where are you living and how long have you been producing music and DJing?
J: Pleasure to be here! I’ve recently moved to Manchester as the techno scene’s a little more lively there than in Chester. I started DJing when I was 16 and then moved onto the next logical step of production a year later.
M: I’m currently around the Liverpool area at the moment. It’s a weird one for me as I started producing well before I could DJ. I started making music when I was around 15 and had my first solo gig when I was 19 (now 22). My introduction into production was actually through rap instrumentals, which is somewhat different to what we’re both making now. This quickly turned into the more minimal side of house and techno which has now developed into our current sound. I actually learned how to DJ properly from James and it’s lead to us having quite a unique way of mixing.
How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a DJ and producer? What were some of your early inspirations?
J: I’ve always been into hip-hop which I guess you could class as electronic music, but my first real taste of a proper dance track was hearing ‘Slam’ by Pendulum on 1xtra. From then on I listened to the drum & bass chart religiously every week and was slowly introduced to new styles like house and techno when I started clubbing.
M: For a long time it was just a hobby for me, I wanted to create unique music and I never really thought about sending music of to labels until I grew a little older and my sound matured. We’ve crafted our sound for a couple of years now and I would say that my personal early inspirations for the tracks we’re making are the likes of Stephan Bodzin, Adriatique & Tale
How did you meet and eventually begin collaborating together?
J: I heard one of Meti’s demos, absolutely loved it and we just began talking from there.
M: We met for the first time at an event we put on together and soon realised we had similar ambitions. We became good friends and we launched our label Suah before we began producing together.
Do you have different roles in terms of who does what production wise?
J: It’s a really good contrast because to some extent our taste across house and techno can vary considerably. Meti likes the deeper, sometimes slower and more hypnotic side of melodic techno and I tend to swing more towards the energetic and more progressive productions. We think both sides of the coin tend to shine through on our tracks. Meti has a home studio so we try and get together as much as possible but when we’re apart I usually focus more on drums, atmospherics and FX whereas Meti is solid with melodies and basslines.
So you’re based in the UK but you certainly don’t sound like you are. Tell us why.
J: Yeah the melodic and progressive sound is something that’s certainly more associated with countries like Germany and areas like The Balkans.
M: Being from The Balkans originally myself, I can certainly vouch for that! It’s no surprise to see most of our gigs next year are overseas.
You have a new EP out this week on Simon Doty’s Rhetorical Music. It’s a collaboration with ASAS with vocals by Jinadu on one track. Tell us how all four of you came together for this project, the inspiration behind the tracks, and the production process on the lead track ‘Dunya’.
J: We were firstly contacted by Denis (ASAS) a while back when he sent us a demo, we thought his tracks had a similar feeling to what we were going for and suggested that we work together. Denis had worked out an initial idea for Dunya and from there we all just kept adding to it, that just involved it being sent back and forth to each other and this particular track we all worked on for nearly a year! The track is a perfect amalgamation of both of producing styles between ASAS and Mia Mendi. We’d noticed Jinadu on tracks like Cristoph’s ‘Closer’ and felt his vocal would be the finishing shine to the project, decided to get in touch and he was happy to do his thing. The most challenging aspect of producing this track was working with the full vocal as it was something new for all of us.
How did this project end up on Rhetorical?
M: We have a lot of respect for Simon Doty not only as a producer but as a person. The amount of belief he showed in this EP was enough to win us over, he actually remixed the track for us way before we all decided to release it on his label.
Tell us a bit about your label Suah, how long has it been running and what’s the vision behind it?
J: Suah’s getting on for 2 years old now t the vision has changed recently as we’re going much deeper and more melodic with our new ETR catalogue (Enter The Realm). It seems as though a lot of other labels are only concerned with putting out big names whereas we’re solely focused on great music t the following and status of the producers we sign don’t really mater to us.
M: Typically we look for emotional music, if it can move us it does the trick for us.
What advice would you have for artists hoping to get signed to the label?
J: Be original, carve your own style, pay attention to detail and create depth and feeling. Follow those pointers and you’ll be in with a shot when you send us your tracks.
M: I would like to add to that by saying, take your time, don’t send a work in progress to label and if you don’t feel 100% certain t don’t send it.
In addition to being artists and label owners you guys also have a massive YouTube channel where you promote a wide assortment of quality electronic music. Tell us a bit about that and how does one get featured on the channel? Is it simply down to your own personal selections?
J: It’s a little harder to grasp our attention these days as we’re inundated with upload suggestions every day, but it’s much more likely we’ll listen to tracks if people hit us up on socials rather than email. We’re trying to limit the amount of uploads we do now as we want to feature more of our own tracks and signings, so to get a feature on the channel you’ll have to be in the top 5 best tracks we hear that week.
You launched the channel just over 3 years ago and amazingly you have over 110000 followers which has amounted to almost 23 million views. How did you manage to build such a network in such a short time?
J: Hard work t day in, day out. I consider us unbeatable in graft.
M: I think because James and I work so well together, it means our workload can be dealt with more efficiently I think that’s a big part of it. I definitely couldn’t do everything we do now on my own.
What was the first amazing moment you had in club? Something that stcks with you today.
M: We go by the philosophy that if there is just one person in the crowd in an empty room losing themselves to our music, it’s enough for us. The most amazing moment to date is headlining to the completely sold out SNNTG festival in Germany over the summer.
J: The whole event took place at an old tram museum that was nestled in a forest. There were quirky art pieces scattered around, great stage builds and a seriously up-for-it crowd. Can’t wait to be back next year with a Suah showcase!
Who was the first big DJ to support your music and how important was that moment in terms of inspiration as well as being validated as an artist?
J: The first Suah release was actually championed by Annie Mac on Radio 1 as well as Sidney & Santé in their essential mix. Safe to say we weren’t expecting that after only just starting things up. Of course our sound has changed massively from what it was then, but we receive a lot of good feedback from DJs all over the world!
What release or achievement are you most proud of and why?
J: Hitting 100K n seemed like a pretty big milestone… still waiting on that YouTube silver award to arrive.
M: Yeh for us it’s never really been about releasing on a specific label it’s about being known for a specific sound, which I feel we’re on the right kinda track for.
Let’s end by looking into the future, what can we expect from all your projects in 2018?
J: First and foremost we’re going big on our own productions next year, we’ve polished of quite a few EPs recently and have enough material to release for the next six months or so. Touring is getting ramp up as well t we’ll be adding The Netherlands, Sweden, Canada and the US to our dates as well as returning to Germany for a selection of gigs in the summer.
M: We’re also looking to start an agency which we’re going to link with our Enter The Ream tagline. The agency is going to be very specific to our sound and 2018 will also look to see the launch of Suah Select; a label incentive offering exclusive content to our followers.
Thank you for having us guys, we hope you enjoyed our Dunya EP and it was a pleasure doing this interview with you!
‘Dunya’ is out now via Rhetorical, you can purchase the release: here