You might know MASH as Xfm Scotland’s top purveyor of electronic beats, or as a top recording artist (especially if you’re in Belgium), or as a remixer covering the likes of Quinn, My Robot Friend, The Needles and Salon Boris, or as a former Jengahead…or, as one of the biggest drains on the world’s oil reserves thanks to his massive vinyl habit. Either way, if you’re looking for a rare 12″, Mash is your man, just give him a chance to find it…
Many Xfm DJs have at some point worked in a record shop, or at least had ambitions to do so. Mash hasn’t. He could, however, have opened his own place – all he needed is the premises, he already had the stock.
“I was moving house and just had to get rid of stuff I didn’t need,” he says, of the 4000 12″ singles he was forced to offload. Was it hard to part with what many would regard as their ‘babies’? “It was mainly stuff I’d got sent or didnt like anymore, and it was getting out of hand,” he jokes, “the floor was coming to meet me as I came in the door, it was a shambles, for finding stuff”. So I assume that it’s now all neatly filed away? “One day, I’ll file it like in the book, High Fidelity. Maybe by genre, maybe by label, who knows?” he jokes.
It seems that the clearout hasn’t actually done that much good. “I’ve still got 6 or 7 thousand, that’s just 12″ singles – the CDs or 7″s aren’t far off that these days.” The vinyl industry has seen some respite with new technology though. ” I’ve got a lot more CDs because… well, you have to really, I can’t carry all my records but 2 or 3 well-selected CD wallets cover most eventualities.”
A ‘lightweight’ jibe is taken in good spirit. Ok, maybe 7000 CDs is a lot to haul around?
“The CDs make it easier, the CD players are now amazing, very versatile, and they have more than a turntable – and CDs are much lighter than vinyl, I can cover more styles, so say I can go into more punkfunk stuff if needed, rather than being stuck with just a small bag of house records.”
Mash appreciates the need to keep in shape, so regular trips to the gym and occasional games of 5-a-sides will help, since sleep patterns aren’t always as regular as he might like. “My mum for years would phone up: ‘Are you still in your bed, its half-past-ten, get up and don’t be so lazy!’. ‘I was working and got in at half-five!'” Happily, his parents don’t see him as a layabout. “My dad said recently, “I’m really glad I spent all that time shouting at you when you were doing exams, saying “why are you sitting listening to records and playing drums and stuff when you should be studying?”, but you followed your own path and are doing what you want to do, so good on you.'”
It was his time at home, with his parents ‘encouragement’ which set Mash up for his current career, so they could only have themselves to blame anyway. “I can remember lying face down on the ground listening to the record player, at an early age”. So through the years, spending his paper-round money on records and eventually doing school discos “by accident” – he had the biggest and best record collection, so who else would they ask? “I look at what I bought when I was young and have been surprised how good my taste was,” he remembers. “Of course there’s a few sniders in there – but the rest of them go from hiphop to house, to Primal Scream when they first started, to My Bloody Valentine, to Public Enemy, to early Chicago House when they started coming in to the country.”
Around this time, his addiction to vinyl was born.
“I’d go to Up Records in Ayr, and every week I’d listen to everything new – that’s the best way of doing it,” he enthuses, “I didn’t go ‘give me house’, or ‘give me indie’, I just listened to music for the sake of it being good music.”
And that forms the eclectic mix that you can hear on his Xfm Scotland shows.
His Thursday show is mainly new bands and tunes, while the Saturday show falls into that much-used category ‘eclectic’. “The best in electronic music, from house to electro to techno to new wave and even the odd drum and bass, and broken beat, breakbeat, and all the spaces between them.” He pauses for breath. “Anything that’s good and should be heard!”
And, as we said, eclectic.
“For the last hour I’ll maybe play new stuff from bands like The Rapture, New Young Pony Club, CSS – bands which are a cross between guitars and electronic, it’s bringing a different dimension to the show that’s more melodic and less clubby.” Also live sessions, mixes and interviews from people like Depeche Mode, Hot Chip, Alex Smoke, Mylo, Pet Shop Boys, Coldcut & Underworld who have all been on Mash show on XFM Scotland. And it seem that his audience like what they hear.
“I get great emails from people clearly into what we’re playing, asking what tunes are called – or just emails from people as far afield as the States saying ‘love the show’.” The instant response of email combined with the worldwide audience is something which really makes Mash’s job worthwhile. “People get in touch – music fans or DJs or musicians – they’ll send you a demo out of the blue, or a myspace address, and a lot of the time it’s good stuff – the musical world’s got so much smaller.” And as someone who’s been doing this for a while it’s quite a godsend, especially when Mash thinks back to his early DJing years.
“You couldn’t do these things 10 years ago – unless they got a tape of the show! So you get people who’re right into it, especially at that time of the morning – you get a lot of people coming home from clubs and gigs at that time.”
Apart from 2 shows at Xfm Scotland, and roughly 5 nights DJing at venues like Bamboo, Moskito, Sub Club, Bunker, and various guest spots, he’s kept busy during the day too – mostly with his music producer hat on making tracks for labels like Dirt Crew, Glasgow Underground and Blue Black. “I played drums when I was younger,” he recounts, “so that helps when I’m programming drums for a house record, say, and being able to play a bit of keys helps too.” So he does think as a DJ at night, and sit on the other side of the fence during the ‘day job’? “It’s funny as I do listen to tracks totally differently from other people – I’ll play a track to my girlfriend and say ‘is the hi-hat too loud?’ and she’ll say ‘where’s the hi-hat?'” Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “She’s a great sounding board – I’ll pick something I’ve made myself to bits – another DJ or musician would maybe say ‘the drums are a bit quiet or whatever’ but she’ll listen to it and say ‘I could dance to that!'”
And people will dance to Mash’s releases – not just in the UK either. He’s off to Berlin soon, (having recently signed to Dirt Crew’s label), has played in Paris, Prague, Ibiza and spent a cold fortnight DJing in Russia “We were downing shots of vodka just to keep warm – I can’t actually stand it any more, I was full of it! – amazing gigs though.”
The best response however would have been in Belgium where he played the Krakrock and Leffingeleuren festivals on the bill with people like Therapy?, The Cult, Slam, Freeform Five, Us3, Juliette & the Licks, Felix Da Housecat… and conveniently with his Glasgow Underground single ‘Somebody’s Property’ getting to number one in the Official Belgian dance chart and getting regular radio play, he got a good reception. “I was DJing, and I did a new version of that song for that gig, and I’m glad I did – thousands of people singing my song back at me – that was amazing, I will never forget that.”
His proudest moment? Almost. “John Peel played one of my tracks once, a remix myself and Ali (Campbell) did of the High Fidelity. That’s Glasgow act The High Fidelity, coincidentally, and unconnected to the book/film of the same name. Though John was someone who knew a thing or 2 about filing records. “He had a massive collection – I’m not actually sure what’s going to happen to them, they should open a museum.”
Perhaps Mash could offer them a home?
(obviously) outdated info:
You can hear a small selection of Mash’s own collection, on Xfm Scotland, on Thursday night / Friday morning from 01:00 to 03:00 , and on Saturday night / Sunday morning from 03:00 to 06:00
checkout his myspace page – www.myspace.com/djmash
Mash is now set to take over the Friday night slot (10pm – 1am) and present In:Demand Dance, on the Bauer Media network of Scottish radio stations including Clyde, Forth, Northsound etc.