Such is the strength of their b2b pairing, Blasha & Allatt politely declined our invite for individual Diggers Directory features, on account of them never doing mixes separately. Rather than taking offence, we admired the bond and used it as an opportunity to focus more on Manchester. As two of four founding members of Meat Free, they have made a vital contribution to their adopted city’s dance culture. Originally set up to combat an abundance of poker-faced parties, Meat Free has become a serious contender in its own right but of a much more glittery variety. Now five years strong, some key milestones include giving Blueprint their first UK label showcase outside of London and being featured on RA’s Alternative Cuts series. As much about the house and techno greats as their soon-to-be-great contemporaries
For their mix they’ve deviated for 4/4 rhythms with a selection of more broken, skippy records. We’ve also discussed their fledgeling production career, Meat Free to date and Manchester (obviously).
Blasha & Allatt play No Bounds Festival in Sheffield (12-14th Oct).
First, our usual ice-breaker. What’s your first musical memory?
Tasha: Buying a Busta Rhymes cassette in Woolworths. No idea which cassette though. I must have been around seven years old.
Steffi: Dancing dramatically around the living room with my sister Kelly to ‘No Limit’ by Two Unlimited.
Both Scarborough and Cannock – where you each grew up – are closer to some of the UK’s other big music cities (Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield). What led you to Manchester instead?
Tasha: I had friends at uni in Manchester and had visited them a few times on nights out and really loved the city. My mate had a spare room come up for rent, so I took that as my opportunity to apply for a load of jobs on the off chance that I’d get one. Within a month, I was living and working in Manchester. I always loved Leeds too and have had many a fond memory there. If hadn’t have moved to Manchester it would have definitely been Leeds.
Steffi: I was looking for people to connect with, musically. Tasha was the only person I knew in Manchester, so I just took a chance and moved here after a summer of not really knowing what to do with myself!
How did you both link up and what convinced you to start DJing together?
Steffi: We initially met through a mutual friend, Meg. She was a close friend of mine at uni. Tasha knew her from back in Scarborough. We went out for a night in Chester, didn’t really speak to each other (!) but became mates on facebook. A few years later I saw that Tasha was DJing and I thought I’d hit her up and tell her how dodgy her mixes sounded 😉 To cut a long story short, we started mixing together and once I’d moved to Manchester, we sort of just ended going b2b more often than not. six years later I can’t get rid of her.
Rather than focusing on a specific sound, are there a key principle or philosophy that unites and drives you as DJs?
Being booked to play a range of events is very important to us, whether that’s a straight up techno party or one where we can pull out some hardcore/jungle. We do fear being pigeonholed to a certain genre because of a certain mix we’ve put out or a set we’ve played in the past. So I guess the key principle is to keep switching up the sets until we are known for being DJs that can fit onto any lineup. Maybe that’s already the case, who knows!
We hear you’ve had your head down in the studio recently. How’s it going making music together? Any releases on the horizon?
Yeah we’ve recently moved house and we have so much more space, which in turn, has encouraged us to work in the studio. In the past we have struggled to work together without wanting to kill each other haha, but over the past few months we’ve really enjoyed the challenge and managed to bounce ideas back and forth creating stuff we wouldn’t have come up with alone. Our debut track ‘Broughton 93’ is coming out on Ben Sim’s ‘Tribology’ Compilation in November.
Meat Free has turned into quite an institution in Manchester. What were you looking to offer the city’s dance music community that you felt was lacking?
At the time we felt everything was way too serious, so Meat Free was a direct response to that.
What’s your proudest achievement with the parties?
Hosting the first Blueprint Records party outside of London was a huge feat for us. We had a vision of pulling this off two years before it even happened. The first time we were shown around Mantra Warehouse we instantly knew we’d found the right space to host the party. People still talk about the event all the time, so we must have done something right.
And what’s the biggest challenge you face as both promoters and DJs?
A Lack of time is the biggest challenge! Day-to-day running of Meat Free, making time for production, music research, preparing for upcoming gigs and working full time, keep us busy!
Where’s your favourite place to buy records in Manchester and why?
Unfortunately, we don’t get much chance to shop in Manchester as much as we’d like to but when we do it’s Vinyl Exchange all the way.
What are some of your favourite parties ?
What emerging/ young talent should we be keeping an eye on at the moment?
Dr Joseph (formerly of Backdrop) who’s just been made resident of Ape X up in Newcastle, is a really brilliant DJ and one we strongly recommend checking out. Manchester wise we have to mention A.Morgan & Yant, both have been making themselves known on the scene recently.
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us?
The mix was recorded at our home studio on a pair of 1210s and Xone 92. Liam O’ Shea from No Bounds asked us to do the mix, so with this in mind and the festival being the perfect place to play a non 4/4 set, we thought we pull some more broken, skippy records out. We’re happy with how it turned out! Particular stand out tracks for us are EBB & Akcept – ‘Wild Wood’, Hugo Massien – ‘Where Your Body Begins’ and ‘Masha’ by Solid Blake, who we happen to be playing with on November 2nd in Manchester at Mixing Mates.
What’s coming up on the horizon you’re excited about?
We’re looking forward to the last quarter of the year, No Bounds of course is a big one for us on 13th October, then we’ll be playing Amsterdam twice in October, once at Dockyards Festival during ADE (for Machine) and once at Shelter, Fabric in November too.
Mesak – Elekieli [Dolly] Larry – Systems_Encoder [Uncertainty Principle] Tred – Anti Gravity (E-Missions] Pugilist – Syncopate [Modern Hypnosis] Berg Jaar – Olis [Room] Solid Blake – Masha [Monkeytown Records] Aurelius98 – Nimda [Cazeria Cazador] Nataraja – Tandava [Dext] APHTC – Gravity’s Pitfalls [Arcane Patterns] Mosca – Don’t Take This The Wrong Way [Livity Sound] Unknow Entity – Raging Horn [Unknown Entity] Hodge – No Single Thing [Livity Sound] ADJ – Hole In The Valley [Pyramid Transmissions] Stave – ATK [UVB-76] EBB & Akcept – Wild Wood [Fox & Hound] AQXDM – Ballad [Bedouin] Borai – Ruff [Them] Patient – Virtual World Voyeur [Ethereal Beatbox] Hugo Massien – Where Your Body Begins [E-Beamz] Overmono – Telephax 030 [XL Recordings]
Blasha & Allatt play No Bounds Festival in Sheffield (12-14th Oct).