Manchester’s Mason Collective have been deeply involved, and connected to, the club culture of their hometown for over a decade now. But their history goes way more profound, with a collective lineage directly linked to the diverse roots of UK rave culture, from sound systems and reggae, hip hop and soul to the city’s club origins. Together, Blair Suarez, Adam Myles and Omar Guedar have formed a formidable alliance running their party brand MVSON, exporting their distinct style of DJing around the world and, of 2022, their festival MVSON World, performing at an array of prestigious venues and festivals while curating their label, Whippin, and releasing their output on a variety of top-tier labels.
Mason Collective uphold the core tenets of dance music and current fashion culture while pushing their home nation’s scene forward with a progressive outlook. Driven, determined and humble, their combined energy and ideas make them one of the most dynamic acts to emerge from Manchester in the last ten years. Always putting the people first, dedicated to building community and inviting everyone to the party, they are steadily building a legacy that perpetuates the pioneering groundwork laid down by the generations that came before them.
Off the back of their recent remix for Leon on his ‘Sissy’ EP on Nick Curly’s Cécille imprint, we caught up with the lads for an immersive chat around the world of the Mason Collective:
Hi Mason Collective, I hope you guys are all well, and thanks for taking the time to talk with us. You remixed Leon on his recent EP ‘Sissy’ via Nick Curly’s Cécille label. Could you tell us about this remix and how it came together?
The remix was just the result of a long night in the studio bouncing ideas back and forth. The quality of music on the label is second to none, so we wanted to make sure we got it right. We’re super pleased with how it turned out; it was a great track to work with.
You’re all currently residing in Manchester. Could you share a little about your origins, were you raised in the city? How is the music scene there these days, and how does it influence you?
We’re all from South Manchester and have lived here our whole lives. We’ve known each other since high school. I’m sure everyone’s familiar with the history behind Manchester and dance music in the 90s, and the scene is still strong. Shortly after starting our party, ‘MVSON’, it moved to (now defunct) Sankeys Manchester for a few years, around the time it was voted the best club in the world. We were 18/19 watching world-class underground DJs play every weekend, which taught us so much about the industry and about electronic music in general. The scene is strong here, and the city produces so many talented producers and DJs. We have AJ Christou, Reme, Joseph Edmund, Calvin Clarke, and Fletch, to name some of the ones in our studio block alone.
How does the dynamic work with Mason Collective working as a trio? When you DJ, how does the selection process come together, and do you always spin b2b2b?
We play one track each, similar to how Apollonia play. We’ve been playing together for over ten years now and know each other’s taste in music well, so it comes naturally.
Since the inauguration of Mason Collective in 2016, you’ve released material on Michael Bibi’s Solid Grooves, Solardo’s Solä, Loco Dice’s Desolat and Seth Troxler’s Play It Say It, an impressive roster of labels. What has driven your music to reach such respected names and platforms in this industry? Was there a defining moment where you felt your career elevate?
Our first solo EP was received really well. It hit the top of the overall charts on Beatport shortly after it was released, and I guess that gave us the motivation to stick to our own sound and stay consistent.
We’re always incredibly grateful when artists who we’ve looked up to forever want to release our music on their own imprint. They’re almost full-circle moments, going from travelling around the world watching them play to becoming a part of their roster. The Desolat release was a massive achievement for us, as Dice has always been one of our biggest inspirations. Dice and the Seran Bendecidos family have become really good friends; they’ve taught us so much about the industry.
Where do you make your music? Do you work from somebody’s home, individually bouncing ideas back and forth or in a studio? What are the dominant pieces of equipment you’re using to produce, in the box with software predominantly or are you also collecting synthesisers, drum machines and other outboard gear?
We share a studio that we’ve built up over the years. Our production process differentiates from track to track. Sometimes we’ll create something together from scratch, but quite a lot of the time, if one of us starts a beat, we can all go to the studio and finish it/them together; it can be more efficient that way. DJing together for so long has definitely helped our synchronicity in the studio too. We know the effect we’re trying to create in the club.
We have bits of hardware we occasionally use (a SE-02, Moog, TR-8 etc.), but most of the time, we just work in the box using plugins.
How is the summer of 2023 looking for you? Are there any notable plans, key shows or releases you have planned that you’d like to highlight?
The second run of our festival, ‘MVSON World’, was in Manchester on the 15th of July, our biggest event of the year. Last year went so well, and we put an incredible amount of work in to make sure that this year’s edition topped it.
We have our Whippin label, but we’re also working on a new outlet to release music which will be announced later on in the year.
Lastly, could you tell us something outside of music that’s been inspiring you lately, a place, a book, a restaurant, a recipe or anything else that’s a significant influence in your life right now?
A - I get a lot of inspiration through touring. We get to visit a lot of places we’d never usually get to see, so I always try to take as much of it in as possible.
B - I train Muay Thai, and I’ve learnt a lot studying the culture. It’s just as good for the mind as it is for the body. It teaches the value of self-discipline and committing to your goals.
O - A podcast on creativity that I recently listened to from Rick Rubin. One of the key points was to never try to impress others on your creative journey; if it’s right for you, it’s right for the universe.
Leon’s ‘Sissy’ EP (incl. Mason Collective Remix) is out now on Cécille Records: https://fanlink.to/CEC049.