My Musical Influences: Mason
Dutch DJ and producer Iason Chronis a.k.a Mason is back with a new artist album ‘Frisky Biscuits’ on the mighty Toolroom Records. His eclectic and hard-to-define style has enabled him to walk his own path in a career which has lasted over two decades and continues to go from strength to strength.
Mason’s track ‘Exceeder’ blew up everywhere back in 2006 and crossed over to huge chart success as ‘Perfect Exceeder’ a mash-up with Princess Superstar. Since then, Mason has made a point of ignoring the popular trends in electronic music and has released a wide range of music, from underground vibes to commercially successful tunes, on a wide range of labels including, Defected, Toolroom, Island Records, Bunny Tiger, Club Sweat and more.
His own label Animal Language has given him a platform to explore his creativity and more underground leanings but throughout all his music is a sound and a groove which is uniquely Mason. Likewise, as a DJ, Mason has a distinct sound and an innate ability to select the right tune to surprise the dance floor. His Kafe Raves in his hometown of Amsterdam – where he turns up at random cafes with a few hundred ravers and a sound system – are the stuff of legend.
Mason’s new album is a perfect reflection of this standalone artist. ‘Frisky Biscuits’, jumps from house to disco, to funk and more, one second making you nod your head and the next making you jump up and dance. It’s impossible to categorise but is all held together by a sound which is ‘typical’ Mason. We caught up with the man himself and asked him to select 5 tracks which been a major influence on him in some way.
To coincide with the release of ‘Frisky Biscuits’ Mason has told us about some of the records that have influenced his style of music and career so far.
Dr Dre featuring the Death Row Inmates – ‘Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)’
When I was12 years old I only listened to hip hop. As you do when you’re in high school. For me, that was everything to do with hip hop; the movies, the clothes, the culture, even though we hardly lived in a ghetto. I still know every word of these early 90’s albums by heart – even though I couldn’t really speak English in those days so had no idea about the actual meaning of it all. Dr Dre and west coast hip-hop, in general, has had a huge influence on me, and still has. That period was very much based on P-Funk, which you can also find elements of in my current music, like the ‘Frisky Biscuits’ album.
Mount Sims – ‘How We Do’
I can honestly say this track somewhat changed my career. Up until then, electro was a weird little niche thing I liked a few things of, but usually quite cold and industrial. All of a sudden I was introduced to the warmer, cosy side of electro with this in 2003, so I started to go to these electro (clash) events in Amsterdam to find more of that sound.
Within months I became the resident DJ at one of the main electro events in the Netherlands called Electronation, and we did a crazy amount of shows with a group of artists that felt like a musical family. It became a scene that was positive and fun and it led to me creating music to accompany it, like ‘Exceeder’ – which again changed my life. However around 2009 when electro moved towards EDM I totally lost interest in the genre it had become, so I moved on to different things.
B.W.H. – ‘Stop’
In dance music, ‘sound’ and ‘mixdown’ is part of the creative and composition process really. This track is one of my all-time favourites in that aspect. It’s dusty, funky, positive and has a certain production sound that isn’t easy to create. In the past mixing was just a necessary evil for me. Nowadays I’m a mixdown junkie and spend an insane amount of hours on getting a hi-hat sounding a certain way. I do realize nobody cares but me and it’s just for my own joy. I just really appreciate the craft of getting something to sound really good. Sometimes people assume I sample a lot of disco loops, but I create them from scratch, trying to make them sound like they were from the 70s and have that dusty sparkle.
Cygnus X – The Orange Theme
At some point, I moved away from hip-hop into house music, around 1994. I picked up DJing and this was one of the first vinyl I bought as a DJ. It was in a time when trance was still somewhat similar to what techno is today, experimental and very far away from the commercial thing it became later on. The Eye Q label that released this was on fire in those days, and I bought them all. I was really in love with this one though and I was happy to do an official remix for it 10 years later.
Les Rhythmes Digitales – ‘About Funk’
‘Darkdancer’ by Les Rhythmes Digitales’ was definitely one of the most influential albums for me. The no-nonsense fun(k) and no compromises struck a chord here. Even though I won’t compare myself with a genius like Stuart Price (who was behind this alter ego), I like to think you’ll find similar elements in my music. I think the world is serious enough as it is, and I like my dance music to be fun(k), original, fresh and different. This album was just all of that and much more.
Mason ‘Frisky Biscuits’ is out now on Toolroom Records. Stream / Download here