Dubspot Artist Profile: M.E.S.H. (PAN / Janus) Talks ‘Hard Club’ Music and Breaking Boundaries

Dubspot blog contributor Mike Steyels speaks with Berlin-based artist M.E.S.H. about his genre-defying sound and approach to modern club music. 


The sound of M.E.S.H. is difficult to pin down. His style of music has a distinct current of cybernetic eclecticism running through it. A slurred worldliness of downtempo beats and a mysterious air of strange cityscapes. It will touch on firm identification, but only for a moment. You’ll hear garbled kizomba and decontextualized pop remixes, then it will lurch on to broken jungle sounds. But it rarely fits comfortably into any established genre tags, and as such he avoids trying to shoehorn himself into any.

“If people ask what I play, I usually just say ‘hard club’ or something made up,” the Berlin-based M.E.S.H. explains with a laugh. “I like the simplicity of a term like that, for myself. Sometimes you’ll see genre names on a Soundcloud upload or an MP3 store or a record store that don’t really have anything to do with the music you’re hearing.”

He doesn’t have many official releases out there, but his music can be found spread all over the interwebs and his name consistently pops up in important corners. His remixes have appeared on the likes of DFA and Big Dada records; his songs have been getting love from the likes of UNO NYC boss Charlie Damga and banjee rapper extrodinare L1ef; and he recently played Boiler Room. His fashion credentials are also worth noting, since Telfar used one of his tracks for a show and he performed at a K-Hole event, a collective notoriously responsible for sowing the #normcore seed.

His DJ sets, and that of the JANUS collective that he runs with, are as eclectic as his own productions, and they flow together with an unexpected smoothness. In the first 45 minutes of a recent radio show, they jump through Jersey club, dancehall, Lusophone afro house, baile funk, Rihanna remixes, rap, and R&B. But without knowing any of those genres, it would just sound… well, dope.

“I’m just looking for stuff that is hard hitting and works on a dancefloor, and also has something sonically interesting to it. Usually stuff with percussion at the forefront is what stands out the most to me, as it’s more interesting to mix with. I like a lot of different music, at different tempos, and with different structures, and I like figuring out how to combine it.”

The inspiration of a challenge expands beyond the difficulty of mixing his own sets. Often, when they play together there will multiple people on the decks going back to back. (See this Vine clip for example.)

The global nature of the music is less akin to the populist and straightforward nature of, say, a Diplo, and more aligned with the cultish, dark intonements of someone like Fatima Al Qadiri, who he is close to.

But it’s not like M.E.S.H. takes these disparate sounds and obscures them for his own aloof purposes. Rather, he’s been bringing some of these artists into the German fold, booking an impressive array of acts in a city most closely associated with techno. He runs the JANUS monthly party and radio show with Lotic, DJ Percy, Kablam & Michael Ladner. This month, they had Jersey’s Nadus and New York’s Venus X play alongside London’s Jam City. And the month before that, they brought out the Portuguese styles of Nigga Fox alongside Kode 9.

It’s not as though he’s set against techno, however. When he comes to the States, he actually throws a lot of it into his sets. Most recently, his stateside events included playing at PS1 in Queens with K-Hole last month, followed by a set alongside Laurel Halo and Physical Therapy in Brooklyn at Baby’s All Right.

Before being drawn to the length and intensity of the Berlin nightlight culture, the Santa Barbra native went to college in New York, where he studied design at the New School. During that time he was wrapped up in making 4×4 sounds under a different, undisclosed name. “I was never really making or playing straight techno when I lived in New York,” he recalls. “But I was definitely more in a 4×4, percussive mode. Whether it was with a dub echo or a compressed 909 crash, I was making something along those lines though.” His name is even jacked from an old acid record.

So, while his style has traveled far and wide, it’s got roots in the rave.

Mike Steyels is a writer based in Brooklyn who focuses on forward-thinking electronic music, regional sounds from around the world, rap, dancehall, and more. His work can be found in THUMP, Vibe Magazine, and Dubspot. Follow him on Twitter at @iswayski.