Mask Music

Since the tail-end of last year, ominous sounds have been emanating from Manchester’s Mask music. My interest piqued by two impressive initial releases, I contacted head honcho Dubshun to find out more.

Let’s dive straight in, what is your current release?

The next upcoming release is the No Clarity EP from myself, due out April 12th featuring 2 tracks; ‘Hunting Ground’ and ‘No Clarity’. I was really happy to see Hunting Ground featured on one of Noisia’s radio shows a few weeks ago.

Where is this release available?

The release will be available across all the usual digital stores; Beatport, Juno, Apple Music etc.

My favourite from the EP is No Clarity, I feel it really captures the sound I’m about and why I initially started the label.

We should be clear here, Mask Music isn’t solely a self-release project. Would you care to name a few of the other artists on the label?

That is correct, the idea behind Mask is to have an output for my music but also to curate a label with music I enjoy from others too. So far the current releases available are from Paracusia and myself, but 2019 will see releases from names you may already recognise and a few you may not yet; Shinbu, Eusebeia, Itti, Code 906 & Out Of Cardio, Swayz, Personnage, Reticent and Fiesta Soundsystem.

Sounds juicy, any hint of the release schedule…

My next EP is MSK003 which will be released in April, following on from that will be Itti with MSK004, Personnage with MSK005 and Eusebeia with MSK006 – I’ll leave the rest to be revealed.

I see you recently did a Mask night in Liverpool, have you got any more Mask label nights in the pipeline?

I’m currently searching for the right venue to partner with for future 
Mask events.

Tell us about the ‘Tales of Sounds’ sub-label and how it fits into the overall Mask Music project?

Tales of Sounds is a place to put out tracks that don’t necessarily fit the Mask output. As these releases don’t go through digital stores, there is no limit on how or when these releases get put out, allowing a more frequent release structure from a wider variety of artists. Each release, as it stands, is a free download which offers each artist releasing a platform for exposure with a new reach.

What motivated you to begin Mask Music?

I wanted to be in complete control of what I release, I like having absolute freedom to create what I want and not having to conform to the sound of a label in order to get music out there. Don’t get me wrong, there are labels I would love to release on and hopefully at some point in the future. Perhaps these opportunities can happen, but I also want an area of my own for anything I want to put out.

What distinguishes Mask from other labels out there?

The mixture of sounds that are going to be released on the label; techno influenced DnB and 140. Also, communication and transparency. 😉

Turning to yourself as an artist, you’ve produced music in other genres. Can you describe where you started musically and how you have you arrived at making techno inflected drum ‘n’ bass?

I guess it all began when I started at university in Bournemouth. I’m originally from London and I have lived there the majority of my life, but no one I knew at the time was into underground music so I wasn’t exposed to it until I moved away for university, and that’s where I got my first taste of underground music and the culture behind it. After regularly attending events for a couple of years, this lead to me wanting to learn how to mix so, I did.

I started off on dnb, I wasn’t aware of the sub genres at the time but I started to gain an understanding the more I explored artists and labels, which led to me exploring different genres in general; techno, tech house, dubstep, grime etc. The more I explored, the more I learnt the different sounds used between each genre, what made them similar and what put them apart.

After a few years of playing out, I got to a point where I thought I’d give the whole production area an attempt. When I first started, probably just over a year ago now, it was a lot to explore but I kept experimenting with it all; different genres, different styles I liked, which has brought me to where I am now.

Outside of DnB, what music do you especially enjoy listening to?

I listen to anything dark and minimal. Botanic Minds / Trau-ma / Instinct UK / White Peach / System / Tempa / F**k Radio gives good coverage of my other interests. Also on occasion, hip-hop.

How do these choices relate to and/or influence your music?

I think it’s crucial to listen to other music in order to inspire you to make something new. I find it refreshing and it gives my mind a break from what I’m making.

Could you outline the effort you made from when you first decided to set up Mask to when the first release was put out?

It took a lot of time preparing what routes I had to go down to launch it the way I wanted to. I gave a hint of the forthcoming sounds by putting 3 EP’s up [clips] from Paracusia and myself because I knew it would be important to show there’s substance to the label, and also with the hope of getting some interest cooking.

After that it was a case of building a send out list of the artists I wanted to reach out to with the music coming out on the label. I was really pleased to see such positive comments back from those that received the music and can’t thank each of them enough for supporting; Mumdance, Loxy, Mantra, Double O, DJINN, Tino, Noisia and also anyone who has used, listened to or played anything from Mask.

When making a self-release, how do you assess your own material so as to determine if it’s release-worthy?

Tricky one to comment on, it’s a subjective area in my opinion because music doesn’t appeal to everyone so I know there will be people that aren’t into it, but I put it out because I enjoy it and if others do too that’s a wicked to hear. So really it just comes down to if I’m feeling it then I will put it out, if not then it stays in the lab until I like it enough to put out. I normally switch between a lot of projects; dnb, techno, 140 – I’ve always said this helps me with inspiration on where to go with music I’m working on.

Lastly, can you give Sonic Nutrition readers a few tips as to what to look out for from the Manchester scene?

I’ve only been here for 8 months now, but events up here have been making noise long before I came up. Hit and Run events for example, a staple on the Manchester nightlife scene with their quality selection of dnb/dubstep events. Can’t forget Chicken Shop Events who are also regularly putting on a quality selection from dnb, garage, and 140, as well as Kodiak, Foundation, Double Drop and Relapse. For things outside of 170; You&Me, Tranquil, Pineal Groove and Flight Mode are nailing the techno/minimal sound. Producer wise here, a lot of quality too; Antagonist, Tuscan, SL8R, High Demand and Kop-Z to name a few!

Many thanks to Dubshun for taking the time to do this interview. You can keep track of Mask Music on SoundCloud and twitter.

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