Connect to the Crowd: Patrick Mason interview
From cutting shapes on the dancefloor at Berghain to ripping the roof off Panorama Bar – Patrick Mason is now burning up dance floors all over the world. We chat to him ahead of his Riverside Festival debut
Patrick Mason, alongside a star-studded lineup for Riverside's 10th Birthday, is playing Glasgow on 4 June. From the outset of our conversation, it’s clear the Berlin-based techno and house DJ intends to shake the industry up. Patrick is increasingly being recognised for his incredibly powerful sets, artistry and charismatic performances – he is arguably redefining what it means to be a DJ.
What’s usually expected from a DJ is quite simple: turning knobs, cuing songs on CDJs, fading in and out. However, Patrick Mason goes far beyond this normal expectation; he performs a live show with vocals while playing three decks, creating a narrative. Mason doesn’t want to be limited to the constraints of being a “hard techno DJ”, he tells how he’s “bored of that shit”. Patrick as a storyteller, describes how he chooses certain tracks to set the atmosphere and transition between tracks. “[Often] I’m starting very dubby, then can do something very different, like going into tribal, house, Detroit and breakbeat. I want to keep people on their toes, you know? I mean, electronic music has so many genres. Why would you limit yourself to one or the other genre? Ultimately, I am trying to constantly reinvent myself, and try to build a story around my universe that I'm trying to communicate to people on the dancefloor.”
Big energy within Mason’s sets is one of the many reasons why he’s been a recent favourite of promoters and clubbers. This summer he plays a multitude of international festivals, including Belgium's Extrema Outdoor – which will be a huge moment for the artist, potentially playing in front of up to 10,000 people. Often it’s such a personal question for artists, to ask what their preference is with intimate venues versus larger stages. Mason describes his connection to bigger crowds: “The connections in the crowd are different, usually there’s quite a significant distance between yourself and the crowd, so you don’t have facial expressions in front of you. However, you can do things on a larger scale, if you can connect with a crowd of that size. If you can connect to one person and make them move, then the entire crowd can move with that one person. It’s a beautiful task I hope to master this year, as big crowds haven’t been on my plate often so far.”
Understanding how Mason operates as an artist, he tells how he’s amalgamated multiple mediums into his current form as a creator: “I am an artist that’s surrounded with all the tools that I've gathered over the past 33 years, assembling and forming them into the shape I need, and ultimately it’s an ever-changing shape. Producing is now my next new topic that’s on my plate. I’ve been in the studio with numerous producers recently. I'm dabbling with producers from R&B and the neo-soul side. Trying to explore all the soundscapes that I have within me, that I want to communicate with the world.”
Mason is a clear advocate for change in the music industry, particularly the side that's associated with ‘techno’. Mason believes that artists should stop gatekeeping, entering the industry with an "everyone for themselves approach… Instead [we should] be helping each other out to collaborate on things and create beauty together. The industry is becoming toxic. And I'm saying this coming from the fashion industry, so I KNOW. Techno wanting only to be underground is hypocritical, locking people out as they have a different approach, is the same shit in blue. We should be more open, we all want to inspire people with our music and make them move, we could all be artists if we’re authentic."
The next couple of months look extremely full for the artist, including a 30-minute mini mix for the esteemed Mary Anne Hobbs on BBC Radio 6 in May – Mason teases how exciting it will be to curate a mix in such a short amount of time, showcasing his flare for multiple genres, and "broader range of sound I like to play". He also mentions some artists who should be at everyone's forefront, including Narciss, Estella Boersma, Toccororo, Spencer Parker, and Alex Wilcox.