It's a dirty dance music industry secret, but when you see a DJ's name on a record, many times he wasn't really involved with producing the record. With a Mason record, that is certainly not the case. Born Iason Chronis, Mason is a trained musician who started as a violinist and grew to incorporate his violin playing with DJ sets. Championed by fellow Dutchman Tiesto, Mason's career was in a steady ascent. With musical parner Coen Berrier (aka Mason & the Maker), they produced "Exceeder" which became an electro phenomenon. The mashup, with Princess Superstar, brought Mason international pop success. A recently released mixed compilation "5 Years of ElectroNation" is just a taste of whats to come from Mason – a multitude of remixes and an artist album scheduled for 2008.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: You started off as a violinist. So how do you go from
violinist to super star DJ?
Iason Chronis (Mason): When I was really young I started playing violin, and at a certain point I was also DJing, but it was just for me to accept the world, and I think that's still possible. Some DJs are hunters or fishermen, and everyone seems to do good things now. I was always playing the violin, and at a certain point I was also combining that with my DJing. I quit doing that a few years ago.
RS: And didn't Tiesto discover you as a violinist?
Iason Chronis (Mason): Yes, I was doing the warm up set for him in Peru, in South America, and he heard me play violin, and he asked me to play during his concerts.
RS: Do you think that gave you the big step forward?
Iason Chronis (Mason): Well, I think it's all kind of baby steps, you know. There was not one point that changed everything, but it did help a lot, and it's also good for my DJing, I got to travel along with him for a while, also doing some work with DJs, and that helped. Definitely it was good experience and good fun. It was good to see these professionals – you can learn a lot from that. So yes, I think the big breakthrough came with Tiesto.
RS: As a DJ, how would you categorize your music?
Iason Chronis (Mason): All styles seem to blend now, a little bit, so it's difficult to say. But, I think it's somewhere between electro and techno and some house elements as well.
RS: When you made the track "Exceeder" did you have any idea it
would be as big as it was?
Iason Chronis (Mason): No, we didn't. We made it together, just did it for fun. At that moment we didn't have a studio so we were working on the kitchen table and really improvised, doing it with just one computer instead of speakers. It was just for fun, a B-side for a Dutch label. We weren't sure who would go for this.
Coen Berrier (Mason): To be honest, we didn't have a freaking clue, and were very excited that the record even came out. So we were like, "Wow, someone wants to put our record out." It was the second record we ever put out, and so it turned out really well. It was a big surprise, I think, for everyone involved.
RS: You said it was the B-side, what was it the B-side to?
Iason Chronis (Mason): For a track called Follow Me, which nobody probably now knows about, but that was actually the A-side.
RS: What gave you the first idea that you had a hit?
Iason Chronis (Mason): It was just a B-side for a very small Dutch label, and was only released in Holland, just a few hundred vinyls. Then, all of a sudden, maybe twenty big international labels started calling, asking if they could license it for the world. Those were all the labels I always looked up to, big labels, like CR2 and Great Stuff. We decided to go with Great Stuff because it suited best, with the sound. But I think at the moment when all these labels started to call, and all these DJs started to react – who usually never react to any promo or anything – we kind of got a clue that it was going to be something. But we obviously never expected it to be as big as it was.
RS: And then after it was big, it had a second life with the
vocal version "Perfect Exceeder." How did that vocal version of
Princess Superstar come about?
Iason Chronis (Mason): It's a different story. For us, obviously, we do instruments and music, and luckily it became a very big hit in the club circuit, in Ibiza. In the summer season of 2006 it was played about everywhere. After a while the bootleg, with Princess Superstar, was going around, which was very popular. A lot of people started playing it. At a certain point Ministry of Sound wanted to release it, and everybody was so scared, it was about a half year after the Exceeder thing. We decided to let them make a mash-up.
RS: And it became huge.
Iason Chronis (Mason): Yes, it became huge, very big.