MASON is a two piece eclectic dance music live act and the strong force behind the record label Animal Language. Hammarica had the chance to catch up with them about their shows and music.
Your artist name sounds like a one person artist, but you are a two piece dance music band. Do people get confused when they see two people on stage? How did the name take shape?
Iason: Yeah a lot of people think it’s some kind of reverse split personality thing. I started out DJ-ing on my own as Mason about 16 years ago. At that time Coen was a singer in hardrock and funk bands. About 10 years ago we joined forces, and as I was already traveling abroad a lot as Mason we decided to stick to that artist name. We’re playing a lot of live shows these days, which is the two of us on stage – so hopefully it becomes more clear to the outside world now that we’re in fact a 2 man enterprise.
You both love gear – What would be your top 3 of your favorite pieces?
Coen: OK geeks here goes. If you’re a non-geek feel free to skip to question #3 !
1. EMU SP 12. – Our secret punch monster. This machine is a legend, sometimes we use it to sequence, but most of the time we just resample drum sounds to give it that “magic dust”. I don’t know why but pitching down a drum hit just sounds so much better in the SP than in the DAW.
2. Sequential Circuits Pro-one. This brand name, the logo, the sound, everything is just right about this machine. It’s basically a 1-voice prophet 5, designed by Dave smith, who was one of the inventors of midi. This synth lacks midi, but it used too belong too my dad which makes it an extra special machine for me.
3. Expert sleepers ES3 and silent way software. A suite of plugins with dedicated hardware to send all kind of control data into my modular system (and back!) Want 5 LFO’s that are all running at different divisions of each other? No problem! And all in sync with your DAW tempo! Sweet.
Your label Animal Language just released a project where producers were asked to go back to basics and only use drum sounds for the creation of tracks. Are you planning to do more of this and where did the idea stem from?
Iason: The days of concept albums seem to be way behind us, so we thought it’d be a nice challenge for us and the talent releasing on Animal Language to revive this idea. We basically asked seven Animal Language artists to make a track with only drum sounds, so there were no melodies, bass or vocals allowed. Everyone tried to cheat, so we had to be quite dictatorial at times (sorry guys!) – we were at some point refered to as beat fascists. The results is a pretty mad concept EP though we’re really proud of.
Tell us more about the course of your label Animal Language?
Iason: There’s so much boring music out there, thousands of releases each week, that we like to do things a bit different with Animal Language. From hand drawn artwork, different each record, to our infamous ‘Refurb’ versions: Each release comes with a ‘Refurb’, a non-dance remix which could be everything from tango to trash metal (check some out here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKvd9wWEnrk). But above all we look for records that are original, different and make some kind of statement. There’s enough boring club fodder out there already….
What can people expect form a Mason live show?
Coen: It’s the two of us on stage, with all sorts of electronic gear and instruments (think electric violin, midi clarinet, electric kazoo etc.). We’ve synced up all our music with lights and video, so we can improvise on stage and every light bulb or bit of video will go along accordingly. Ow and we bring a giant baboon…. Have a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KWqn_FAHTc
Which artists outside of dance music do you love most?
Iason: Artists that don’t follow trends but go their own way. As we’re both big pop lovers outside of dance music, we like artists that can combine those two world on an original way. Apart from that we listen to shitloads of old disco, funk, blues, jazz and soul. The term ‘manic collectors’ applies here – we find hidden treasures about every day – there’s just too much good music behind us people totally forgot about.
Your favorite record from the last 10 years?
Iason: ow dear…. Django Django’s debut album? Das Pop ‘The Game’?
Coen: Mark Ronson & The business international album is a piece of art.
Should more dance music artists release albums instead of just tracks?
Iason: …as long as an album is more than the last 10 tracks they released on beatport. A lot of dance music is too ‘functional’. Ok, it will work on a dance floor, but it’s made without a creative idea or soul. We don’t need mechanic music ‘that will work’, we need artists that express themselves in whatever way they feel is needed.
Do you collaborate a lot with other artists? Tell us more.
Coen: we’re already a duo, so sometimes three can become a crowd, but we have a few amazing collaborations coming up we’re not allowed to tell you about yet. Most will feature on our 2nd artist album we’re working on…..
What is your favorite social platform to interact with fans?
Iason: At the minute it’s Facebook, as it’s most interactive, also for fans amongst themselves. But we don’t wanna be too dependent on one platform, as things change so quickly, so we’re active everywhere.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Coen: Take care of yourself, and each other. You can do so by following us here, and we’ll spoil you with freebees and everything else you might need in life.