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Hannah Holland talks rave revival, rediscovery and leaving London

Rewind to the early noughties in London: Turnmills and The End were still in full swing, and Hackney still had a lawless feel with its after-party subculture. Mulletover was an institution, throwing secret warehouse raves all over the city. Shoreditch offered up the legendary gay pub the George & Dragon. It was around this time that Trailer Trash flung its doors open to the baying crowd of the East End. Situated at On The Rocks, under the bridge on Kingsland Road, a club described as ‘dark, underground, small and sweaty’ it was the party to be seen at, equipped with an open-minded, anything-goes attitude. It was here that Hannah Holland became a resident, snapped up by its founders Mikki Most and Dan Pope. Trailer Trash is just one of the many reasons that Hannah Holland has played such an important role in the clubbing evolution in London.

“It came at a time when there was nothing in Shoreditch at all, apart from the George & Dragon,” Holland remembers. “There were no bars, there were no clubs. Trailer Trash was a real hub for the very flamboyant, gay East End. It was very fun, and very wild. That’s where I met a lot of friends, DJs that ended up becoming great mates of mine 15 years later. People who I DJ with now, like Josh Caffé and Jonjo Jury.

“Around that scene was where I met the guys who started Trailer Trash. It was the right place, right time... the stars aligned and I became a resident there. It was something that grew really organically. Jonny Woo would be hosting, and it was a really nice mixture of people. At the beginning it started off gradually, and grew into this monster that would be road blocked every week. It was exciting.”

London back then was soundtracked by an eclectic mix of trends, from jacking house and techno to UK bass music or the emerging electroclash. It was music with attitude, and came with outstanding fashion.

“Electroclash was a resurgence of what was happening in the ’80s,” Holland says. “It really stemmed from the ’70s, from punk, and then came about again in the ’80s with the New Romantics, and reared its head in the early 2000s. There’s a very creative side of London popping up again. Queer, creative and progressive, which is really exciting.” 

Back then it was a vinyl only affair. “CDJs weren’t invented. It took me years to move over to CDJs, because I just couldn’t get my head around why you would move over to that medium,” she says. “I started off collecting vinyl when I was 18, and it was only maybe in 2005 that people started playing CDs. It was all vinyl then, so I’d literally drag two record bags full of music around the million after-parties that I’d play. I’d be playing at about three events on a night every weekend. There’d be a Sunday party at Dove Bridge Studios, or various after-parties in Shoreditch that would continue after Trailer Trash on the Friday night. Sunday was a great night to go out — there were always fun things going on like Catch 22, Bones & Ramsey, and Mulletover in the early days. I would pretty much spend all my money in Phonica Records.”

A big part of Holland’s week would be stocking up on her vinyl collection. “Heidi [then working at Phonica] was my record dealer. She’d be really kind to me and pick me out loads and save me stuff. She introduced me to a lot, actually.” Many of the records that Holland played back then are still in her collection. It’s the music she describes as stemming from that, “breakbeat rave sound, melting with techno and house music. And obviously a lot of bass.”

They are the nostalgic records that she still pulls out on special occasions and during long stints, such as the closing of Panorama Bar; a legendary set that she’s played a handful of times.

“I had imagined playing there for years,” Holland says. “I would stock tracks to play one day at Panorama. I had this vision of what I wanted to play, and what I felt worked in that room, because I’d experienced it so many times and I wanted to bring what was new as well. I had so many years of imagining, it was a real dream come true to do it.”

The depth of her music collection is perhaps what defines Holland as such a respected DJ among her peers. Although her sound is constantly evolving, there’s a strong element of appreciation for the music she became known for at the beginning.

Having thoroughly invested her time in some of London’s wildest parties, it was a bold and appealing step to move away from the confines of other promoters into her own club night Batty Bass. “The party had a real energy, and was unique in terms of how eclectic the music was, but it had a real thread in the sound,” she says. It was an idea started alongside singer and close friend Mama (who at the time was in a punk rock band), putting on live bands, MCs and DJs, all mixed up to, “create this great chaotic energy”.

It also became the inspiration behind their first collaboration, ‘Shake It Up’. It was a record that epitomised the club night and soon-to-be-imprint; bass heavy, high-octane rhythms made for the dancefloor. At the time, they weren’t sure where it fit, so Holland decided to broaden Batty Bass into a label.

“It just made sense to do it,” Holland says. “So that’s why it started, and it just grew from there. We had a lot of artists that would come and play at the club, and they were making music that would fit the ethos of the label and the night. We wanted to have a platform for very creative characters, as opposed to just faceless DJs and producers. That’s what I was really attracted to when signing tracks by POSH! The Prince, Mama, Andre J, Warboy and The Carry Nation, they’re all so charismatic. They’re like stars to me. They’re the Andy Warhol Factory stars. They are the people that make clubbing so fun, interesting and creative.”

An in-depth interview and a killer 60 minute mix from a legendary UK DJ, producer and label boss...

Intro block: 

With a new EP driven by the rave and jungle sounds that first inspired her, and her Batty Bass club-night revived, Hannah Holland is having a moment. DJ Mag got in touch with the Margate-based DJ, producer, band member and label boss to talk about everything from the wild Trailer Trash days to her current residency at Adonis in London and her band Black Gold Buffalo. She's also served up a killer 60 minute mix as part of our Podcast series...


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