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Alleycat And The Secret Life Of Melbourne Techno

Talking to the Melbourne crew about the new wave of local techno

Been looking for a good techno party in Melbourne? They're out there, but not always easy to track down, curiously underground in this age of information overload. If you have found yourself dancing at 150 BPM in an intimate club or unexpected location, chances are Alleycat were the master minds behind it all. The project of local party starter Dylan Batelic and interior design specialist Miles Davis, Alleycat are here to convert stray clubbers into total techno enthusiasts. They've thrown parties in various spots across the city, at Melbourne's Lounge bar, and most recently they've moved to the Mercat. Given we're talking about one of the darker strains of dance music, the basement feel of the venue couldn't be more fitting. We talked to them both about what to expect from Alley Cat, Melbourne techno, and the genre that has brought together so many outsiders.

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Compared to some other dance musics genres, techno has some specific geographic origins, Detroit for example. Today of course techno is a global scene. Is there a uniquely Australian take on techno that you can identify?
The scene here is alive, both house and techno alike. We are very mixed between the two with higher preference for either really. With artists like Francis Inferno Orchestra, Tornado Wallace and Sleep D reaching near-global status people are definitely curious as to what is so unique about Melbourne. There's also a strong number of international artists coming in every weekend which in turn shows the support for the global scene, and indicates perhaps the quality of music that this city aspires to build upon.

Terre Thaelimitz said in the Midtown 120 Blues intro, "The House Nation likes to pretend clubs are an oasis from suffering, but suffering is in here with us". This feels particularly relevant to techno. What is it about techno music and culture, that feels so dark? Some people could see it as an escape from reality, others just want to party. It's only as dark as you want to make it, and that would be down to the individual.

From an outside perspective techno might seem like a difficult sound and scene to access, especially without a certain knowledge and appreciation of the genre's conventions. It could be described for instance as very dark and minimal. How would you explain techno to the unfamiliar?
Actions would speak louder than words. Most people would say that their first experience would be when they were placed right in the centre of it all. It's one thing to explain an appreciation but wouldn't compare to being there in the flesh. Once they check it out, the rest is history.

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So what is it about the sound that you personally find so compelling?
Techno and most other electronic musics maintain a bare-bones structure which despite its simplicity can still remain complex and thoughtful. It's with this understanding that production these days continues to develop, and interesting music is still being created.

If faced with a "techno-phobic" how would you go about persuading them to get involved?
It's not for everyone, if they don't enjoy the music then why try and persuade. Maybe one day they will change their mind and if they do then they would know where to go.

You guys have been running these parties for a while now, how did it all come about?
SRS NRG.

These days regular parties become vapid so quickly. What's different about 'Alleycat'?
Quality over quantity.

Alley Cat is on the 23rd of January, at The Mercat with Optimum-Trans [Moopie & Jezadin], Freejack [Live Set] with support from Sleep D & M Mind.

You can follow Reuben and his musical musings on Twitter here.