For this month’s feature interview we speak with house music rising star, Manchester’s Mason Maynard.
We spoke with Mason about his rise to fame, working with legends and the importance of house music history.
Manchester producer and DJ Mason Maynard has just released his ‘Make It Hot’ EP featuring not one but two collaborations with Chicago legends: ‘Make It Hot’ with Gene Farris and ‘Propane’ with Green Velvet. Maynard has had a pretty fast rise to fame via a string of big releases on labels like Danny Howard’s Nothing Else Matters, Solardo’s Sola Records, Cajual, Defected, Repopulate Mars, and Relief Records. DJ appearances at Hideout, The Warehouse Project, SW4, Reading & Leeds Festival and Parklife along with plenty of Ibiza action at Amnesia, Hï Ibiza and Privilege have bought his brand of streamlined futurist house music to a large audience.
Attack Magazine: Thanks for your time today. So you’re from Manchester right?
Mason Maynard: Yeah born and bred.
Do you think that where you grow up affected your sound?
I got into house music quite late, so I think in terms of music in general yeah. Because when I was growing up I was very influenced by the local music that was happening here whether it was bassline or grime – so yeah the Manchester sound as a whole has shaped me.
And what’s the current Manchester house scene like?
It’s thriving, we’ve got a lot of producers making really good music and everyone knows about the guys in Manchester that are coming up. They’re getting a lot of plays off the bigger DJs so it’s thriving. The only thing is that we’ve had a shortage of venues so that consistent two or three good events each week that say London has, that’s the only thing that Manchester hasn’t got at the moment.
Any producers in particular?
I’m a producer who also DJs: producing is my first love.
What about you, are you a producer who DJs or a DJ who produces?
I’m a producer who also DJs, producing is my first love.
You first got into house via the Parklife festival is that right? Can you remember who was DJing?
Yeah I went to Parklike one year and saw a load of house DJs and that was my first experience of raving to house music really. I remember watching Jamie Jones, Heidi, Richy Ahmed and Patrick Topping.
How did you first connect with Green Velvet?
He did a DJ Mag YouTube video and he was playing one of my songs so I cropped the video and posted it on my Twitter. Then he followed me so I was like can I get an email to send you some stuff and from there we’ve been friends since.
Has he been like a mentor?
Yeah definitely. We linked up a couple of times when he was over in the UK, I’ve met some of his family; tune-wise we’ve done a few tunes together and he’s given me advice on how to navigate through the DJ industry, so yeh he’s given me a lot of insight.
What other artists have inspired you?
The likes of Jamie Jones, Derrick Carter, Green Velvet, Cashmere, Paul Johnson, KiNK, Mathew Johnson, Brett Johnson…
Your music is generally referred to as tech house – is that what you call it?
The first stuff I was doing was definitely tech house, that was what was happening and that was what I was trying to do but as I’ve got older and matured and learnt about house music history I think my newest stuff from this year going forward is more of a truer house sound, or has a truer house element to it.
What’s changed in your musical approach then?
Everything! I’ve obviously been able to expand the gear in my studio and learn a lot about it, learning about where sounds come from, which drum machine a certain drum kit comes from. I feel like in the beginning I was very much just in the computer like everyone else and my tools were a bit limited so the sounds I was making were one dimensional. Now I feel like I’ve branched out a bit.
Where do you want to take your music over the next few years?
I’m just kind of playing it by ear. I want to link the older with the new. I understand that times are changing and it’s important to be up with the times but I don’t want what’s come before to be forgotten about so I want to keep people who are following me in the loop as to what happened before.
So the history is important to you…
Yeh, definitely. I’ve spoken with a lot of the guys who really started this, the Chicago guys, I was with DJ Pierre last week in Chicago and I was asking him his story and what he told me, just to hear it from the source and to know these guys actually created this music, and most of it was by accident, it was eye-opening. So I think it’s important for the next person to know that, and not let it slip or get too far away from the essence of the music.
“…if I could give the advice to someone else I’d say don’t rush: if you’ve got a vision of what you really want to do then really get down to it and stick to it and don’t be swayed by what you see around you…”
Are you into much older tech house from the 90s or 2000s?
I’ve gone back and listened to a lot of stuff from people like Terry Francis and Pure Science, late 90s early 2000s. Now, with the big festival stages and bigger club rooms, I think that kind of stuff can get lost but it’s the basis of what tech house originally was.
When you say get lost, what do you mean…?
There was a time when there was no festival stages for tech house and the music was catering to small dark clubs. You didn’t need to switch it up every minute and a half and with a lot of the older records the changes are more subtle. Sometimes it can feel like it does need a drop or a build-up just to keep the crowd interested. everyone’s anticipating the drop…
Do you play differently when you’re playing smaller venues then?
Yeah definitely. I to keep it funky and groovy – and as I get better as a DJ you find there are ways to do that without needing to always use the drop and build up or whatever. I think in a smaller dingier club the older tech house sound can definitely thrive, more than on the main festival stage.
And finally, you’ve achieved a lot at a young age – do you have any advice for young producers?
It’s hard because now that everything’s on social media, if you’re inactive for a week or two, you see that the whole world is carrying on and you get a sense of falling behind. You have to keep up but at the same time, you have to move on your own time too. It’s hard to manage and I’ve not mastered it myself yet, but if I could give the advice to someone else I’d say don’t rush: if you’ve got a vision of what you really want to do then really get down to it and stick to it and don’t be swayed by what you see around you.
Mason Maynard’s Make It Hot EP is available on Beatport.