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Bugged Out Interview: Hannah Holland

Hannah Holland, along with Dan Beaumont, hosted the Dalston Superstore takeover at Bugged Out on Saturday night. She’s one of our favourite DJs who has been part of the London club scene since the age of fourteen, the sneaky thing. Hannah has played nights at Ibiza, Fabric, and The Warehouse Project, as well as Bugged Out gigs. She runs the Batty Bass label, which has put out releases from artists such as POSH the Prince, Jahcoozi and Mama, as well as Holland herself. We caught up with her at Butlins Bognor Regis to talk about the evolution of dance music and how to start out as a DJ.

Dance music festivals have become pretty popular over the last few years. What do you think it is about it that makes it different from the average festival?
Well, it lasts all night instead of throughout the day, which is one major difference! Dance music is huge and continues to get bigger and bigger, so there’s a real call for it.

I’ve noticed festivals have overtaken clubbing in a way. Would you say you’ve noticed the change in the balance between the two?
It’s a weird time for commercial clubbing because people don’t want to spend loads of money on going out every Saturday night but they’ll invest more into a whole weekend, I guess, because loads of people go and the line-ups are great.

How do you think the clubbing scene has changed over the past ten years?
I think that there’s a lot more underground parties now.

That’s a good thing though, right?
Yeah, that’s great. Also, with places like Berlin in particular, people can fly cheaply to Berlin and go to amazing clubs over there. People can travel a lot easier now.

Obviously with the rise of dance music, there are less and less indie nights. Do you reckon rock music is dead?
Not at all. But the Justice and Ed Banger wave a few years back to more rock and indie fans into dance music. You can go and see an Erol Alkan gig, for example, and that’s just like a rock concert – it’s so full on and people are almost moshing at events like that.

What have you made of the Bugged Out weekender so far?
I only got here three hours ago, and I’ve never been to Butlins before, so it’s very surreal. I’ve known and played for Bugged Out for the past ten years in London so it’s really great to see it on a huge scale in such surroundings.

What would you suggest I do first if I wanted to start DJing?
It’s quite a hard question to answer now, because when I started DJing you’d get a set of decks and bought records. Now there are so many options. I’d say to buy a pair of cheap CDJs and to always play the music that you love. There are places where you can go to practise, like the Roundhouse in London. Record what you do, and listen back. It’s all about practise.

Do you reckon DJing with CDs or iPods is cheating?
I DJ with CDs, but I wouldn’t say DJing with your iPod is actually DJing. A rock DJ would be totally different to a techno DJ because different skills go into each style – so a rock DJ could play a set off of an iPod, I guess, because you wouldn’t necessarily use a mixer playing that genre of music. There are definitely different styles of DJing, so the way you do it depends on what kind of music you’re playing.

Do you purely play tracks that you love or do you consciously drop in the occasional crowd pleaser?
I always just go with what I really love – to me, the fact that you’re not pandering to popular tastes is what makes a DJ and that’s what makes your sound. Obviously in your set you can play popular tracks that you like, but I would never play something just because it’s at number one in the charts. I just buy music because I really like it, and hopefully other people on the dance floor will like it.

What have you got planned for 2012?
I’m starting a new record label, and I’m writing a new album at the moment as well.

Aren’t you giving a talk at Roundhouse Rising?
It’s all about inspiring under-25s – the Roundhouse has loads of facilities to help young people create and record music. I’m going to be running a workshop on February 18th for 16-25 year-olds, which will be all about DJing, production and label and club promotion. I’m really excited about that.

We’re covering that, so see you there!

-Bronya Francis

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