Steve Mason is modern music's renaissance man. As part of the Beta Band, he mangled the indie rock formula beyond recognition, emerging with a folk, hip-hop and electronica informed hybrid that reveled in its bedraggled majesty and unique sonic identity.
Having ventured further into the electronic domain with solo records as King Biscuit Time, now he's gone the whole hog with new album 'Pleasure, Pressure, Point' as Black Affair – a record heavily in thrall to the electro pop and acid house of yesteryear, as well as the hyper modern R&B of Timbaland and Neptunes. We grabbed a few minutes with Mason to find out more…
Much has been made of the electronic element of the album but the R&B aspect is probably just as prevalent.
You worked with C-Swing in the past; did working with Jimmy Edgar this time out make sense for the sound you were out to achieve?
At last, someone has looked beyond the more obvious! Nice one. R+B was a huge influence on this record. I have been listening to modern R+B for about 15 years now but I concentrated mainly on early '90s stuff during the making of this album. It was a time when R&B made a huge leap towards Hip Hop and started to get really exciting in terms of production. My first attempt to marry what I do with R&B was in 2000 with C-Swing. It was'nt quite what i hoped for, but it is a great record and works to some extent. I felt confidant enough this time to do it on my own and the sound i took to Jimmy for mixing was already fully formed, but , his attention to detail is spooky and I knew he could make a great sounding album into something special. Which he did.
What does the name Black Affair allude to?
"A midnight encounter. Eye contact between a man and a woman. Instant attraction. No words exchanged. A small touch. An intake of breath. They move to the back of a darkly lit club. Into the shadows. Passion accelerated, lust satisfied. They walk away in opposite directions. Never having spoken and never seeing each other again. Our secrets are all we have."
Is 'Japanese Happening' a tribute of sorts to the band Japan?
"No! It's about an ex-friend of mine who worked for a year in the hostess clubs in Tokyo. Swapping love for money. It's about what I imagine her experiences would have been, what she may have learned about herself and about men. And how that knowledge could be applied to her everyday life back home."
What inspired your shift towards a more heavily electronic sound this time out?
"The guitar is boring right now. I swapped all mine for leather face masks. But mainly, I have never done this before. I have combined electronic elements with other things, but never made a pure electronic record. I felt what was missing from a lot of this stuff was soul and songs, so I wanted to make a dance record that worked as a pop record and satisfied all those people that really want a good song as well. I aim to please."
Do you feel the need to keep reinventing your self, so as not to get stagnant?
"Jah! I am an artist, and when an artist stands still they become an accountant very quickly. I like to keep moving and challenge myself. Sometimes I fail and sometimes it's amazing. But I love it all. Always learning and trying to stretch my creativity to breaking point. That's when the magic happens. Never stand still, only when I'm being kissed. And even then, you better hold on tight."
What's next for Black Affair and Steve Mason?
"'P.P.P' is out now and I have hooked up with The C90s DJs who will be my new live backing band. We are going to be breaking hearts at clubs all over Europe from now until it's over. Then I have to complete Black Affair's new sound, Goth R+B. R+G, get on it!"