DJ, promoter, label owner and producer, Hannah Holland is a a product of all the best bits of London club culture.
Often behind the buttons at Panorama Bar / Berghain, Fabric or Glastonbury’s Block 9, Hannah’s colourful fusion of house, techno and bass sees her regularly take her sound across Europe, as both a DJ and established producer. Her contributions to dance music and the underground club scene however stretch back to the mid-noughties, as she’s responsible for having headed up one of London’s most heated parties, Batty Bass.
A continuously mobbed bi-monthly dance that ran at The Star of Bethnal Green, the “genre crunching, energetic, deep and dirty-dance-til-you-drop” club night’s influence has run far and wide, marking its name across a number of global underground ‘floors and extending its power to that of a label, with a history of releases from herself, Dan Beaumont & Terry Farley, The Carry Nation, and The Deadstock 33’s to name a few.
With the infamous party now set to return on July 7 at Hackney Wick’s The Yard after a four year absence, we catch up with the Batty Bass chief to reminisce on its finest moments, the evolution of the brand, and exactly how a classic episode would go down. Oh, and she’s also recorded a killer mix for us that pulls from all corners of the club and certifies her status as queen of the party.
Describe a Batty Bass party for those who’ve never been?
Batty Bass started as a party in 2006. It was born out of a desire to explore my eclectic music taste and incorporate live music, collaborate with visual artist Alex Noble and a meeting of minds with singer MAMA, whilst she was whipping up a crowd into a frenzy at one of my gigs. Together we bought a certain musical anarchic energy to a situation, so we decided to start Batty Bass. In the beginning we had live bands and DJ sets, all blending nicely into each other. Eventually, 2006-2009 was when we settled into our monthly home at The Star Of Bethnal Green, we refined the formula down to MAMA on the mic plus MC Chickaboo over my sets with amazing residents doing warm duties including Miss Bailey and Deboa. We wrote songs that became anthems at the club. The DJ sets were bass driven groove lead music, from deep to broken to funk to dub to house to techno, blended together to form its own style, typically ending in a jungle frenzy. Alex Noble would cover the walls with art, that people would take at the end of the night. I have been back at after parties where people’s whole bedroom walls were covered by them! Batty Bass always attrached such a brilliant mix of people, all ages, different scenes, a true London melting pot and that’s something very important to me and why I love the city i grew up in. It has also been a monthly podcast, clothing line and (still is) a record label.
Can you recall a particularly outrageous or memorable moment or party from the series?
The nights always felt like some kind of anarchic spiritual ceremony, people would really let themselves go and the energy in the room was totally electric, people swinging from anything that was swingable, the dancefloor became some sort of human soup by the end of the night!
What made you take the party to Berlin and why do you think it translated so well there?
Myself and MAMA relocated to Berlin in the late noughties, MAMA made the move to Berlin first and i followed shortly after, both of us had grown up in London and after “discovering” Berlin found London pretty restrictive. We’re both back in the UK now but had quite a few amazing years there, and both separately created a lot of music and explored new avenues. It was hard to carry on the London night which we felt had grown out of its former self. We were doing one off warehouse raves and guested at places like Fabric, XOYO, MTV awards party, where Alex had a budget to create a Batty Bass universe in the form of an experiential environment in which the club happened, as well as a couple of Batty Bass nights in Berlin, one which DJ Hell did a warm up set for us because he liked the music and vibe so much. We were both totally inspired by Panorama Bar back then, and now 10 years later DJing in there is a dream come true.
What do you make of the current party scene in London? Do you feel the freedom spirit and opportunity to let go is apparent in today’s underground scene?
London has got such creative forces at work it will always find a way to have a thriving scene. I love Chapter 10, Dalston Superstore, Adonis and London Loft Party which all carry a real raw quality.
Does the Batty Bass label align with the spirit of the party?
The label is all about supporting artists who carry the spirit of BB, creativity, DIY, punk spirit and great music which tend to have a bit of a quirk and a message. It tends to find it’s global family through it’s ethos.
What are some of your proudest moments/releases on the label?
There are so many which have been life changing, for instance, The Carry Nation, an amazing duo from New York heard my track ‘Paris’ Acid Ball’ and were playing it a lot on the NY underground scene, this resulted in a life time friendship and many trips to play in some of the best clubs I’ve ever been to. They have released amazing releases and remixes on the label. Im really proud of the album from 2011, so many inspirational club creators and artists on there. I love MAMA’s ‘Unmask Me’ release, the remix by Ashley Beedle saw Andrew Weatherall make a video of himself blissing out to it, because he loved it so much! Also our very first release ‘Shake It Up‘, which was one of our club anthems. Plus Josh Caffe’s releases, he’s a life long dancefloor partner in crime, we DJ’d a lot together in the early days of East London’s scene in 2004 onwards. Each artist and release has a history behind it. Also all the artwork which Alex creates for each release are so incredible. One day we’ll have an exhibition of them all.
Why have you decided to bring Batty Bass back and what was the reasoning for taking a break?
I believe everything has a its time and place, we out grew our long time home and took onto other places. Our New York family, The Carry Nation, will be in London this summer and we wanted to celebrate with them whilst bringing the dancefloor family back together, it just felt right! The spirit has always lived on through the music on the label and DJ sets from BB artists.
What can we expect from your mix for Hyponik?
I think I’ve managed to cram in a true BB + HH spirit. It starts off in somewhat of a tropical climate, and slowly leads you down a dark alley, into wormholes of the unknown, before you know it possession has taken place then spat out the other side in a wrap of warmth and love. There’s ref’s to many club influences, styles and experiences weaved into my own web of sound.
What does the future of the Batty Bass enterprise look like?
Next up on the label we see dance floor remixes from Black Gold Buffalo, (the band I play bass for, check out the debut album), we’ve got some amazing mixes from Whatever/Whatever, Ghost Culture, Violet, Super Drama and more. Our summer rave is on 7th July at The Yard with The Carry Nation, Josh Caffe, MAMA and myself. You can also find the label at the London Independent Label Market on June 16th, where we’ll be selling vinyl and art. Cant wait!
Black Gold Buffalo – Lay It Down (Whatever/Whatever Remix) (Batty Bass)
Leif – Bluebird (TIO Series)
Nomadico – Ganas (UR)
Rita – Ciao Fellini (The Caribbean Dark House Mix) (Codek Records)
Bogdan – Parovoznikov (Justin Vandervolgen Remix) (Not An Animal Records)
Hodge – Beneath Two Moons (Berceuse Heroique)
Robert Hood – Transform (Dekmantel)
Hugo Massien – Chemically Monded (E-Beamz)
Ray Kandinski – Ray (E-Beamz)
Objekt – Theme From Q (White)
Penta – The Model (Housewax)
Chinaski – Totleben (Omnidisc)
Etch – Untitled #4 (Sneaker Social Club)
Goldie – Redemption (Edit) (Metalheadz)
Neil Landstrumm – A Death, A Mexican and A Morman (Central Processing Unit)
Llewellyn – Remote Scope (Riot Van)
Gallegos – Save Your Love For Me (Banoffee Pie Records)
Batty Bass takes place at The Yard in Hackney Wick on July 7.
Tickets available here.