MASS!VE DYNAM!C (stylized as M!D!) Is the award-winning “genre fluid” project by British progressive rock multi-instrumentalist Benedict Harris-Hayes. (ENOCHIAN / OCEAN THEORY).
After winning two awards in a 2016 global remix competition for his DnB reinvention of Zanga’s “I Need You” and self-releasing a few tracks, Ben returns armed with a slew of songs to power M! D! forward with their full debut album titled “Progreso”.
‘Progress’ is a 13-track musical journey through hip-hop, drum & bass, dub / reggae, EDM-Trap, chillstep, triphop, bass house and other genres and was largely inspired by his travels in Asia, before the pandemic. and write at home during the pandemic.
We have had the pleasure of interviewing MASS! VE and this has been the result.
Can you tell us a little about your experience? Where are you from / how did you get into music?
Greetings! Many thanks for this opportunity to talk to you about my MASS!VE DYNAM!C project and some other things! I’m a UK multi-instrumentalist and I’ve been writing music for about 30 years now, ranging from heavy metal to pop music, through to dance and working with full orchestras. I truly love writing in many different style and genres because it keeps things fresh for me...and I’m always seeking something to keep me interested! I started playing drums when I was 8, as a reason to escape having to do English lessons in school! My love of playing music grew from there and I taught myself a ton of other instruments, like piano, guitar, bass, cello and digital instruments over the subsequent years. I’ve been lucky enough to tour, sell records and have fanbases for my music...which is still amazing and something I find hard to reconcile. People buying my music, coming to shows and asking me to sign stuff and then doing things like having lyrics I've written tattoo'd on their bodies is quite mind-blowing for me. It's all stuff that a very much appreciate and it also helps me to understand that there are people out there that understand me. I tend to work in cycles when doing projects and in mid-2019 (roughly), I started writing music for the ‘Progress’ album and wanted to release that under my MASS!VE DYNAM!C project because it was all very much dance/electro/D’n’B orientated. Honestly, I’m a grubby rock/metal musician at heart, but I’ve always had a healthy love for many other forms of music and those genres have inspired me many times across the years. I tend to say that I cannot live without my synths, just as I cannot live without my guitars!
How is your sound evolving? What artists and genres do you enjoy mixing right now?
If I were to be honest about my evolution with MASS!VE DYNAM!C, I would say that it has very much walked hand in hand with me writing in other genres. I tend to learn a lot by just messing about, but I’ve taught myself a lot of music theory in the last 15 years, which certainly helps. But I really don’t let that control what I write. The voyage of discovery when I just muck about with instruments is still very vital and I really have to feel the music (or the lyrics) Above anything, it has to mean something to me to me to valid and useful in my book. The project started out as a weird blend of metal and dubstep, but is now very much focused on celebrating the genres of music that are not rock or metal. I’ve been very fortunate to jam with many different bands over the years and they’ve all taught me different things. I wanted to just write a body of work that celebrated dance music; and all it’s sub genres/styles...so, that’s what I did! Each track on the ‘Progress’ album is different and I wanted each song to be able to stand on it’s own.
Honestly, I’m not much of a DJ! I don’t really ‘mix’ in the sense of DJ-ing vinyl, CD’s or MP3’s, although I can do it with the assistance of beat- matching software like Traktor and Virtual DJ, etc. It is fun to do, I will say that...but I much prefer to play live instruments. My idea of mixing is in terms of mixing a recording session of a load of instruments I've recorded!!
How do you feel that your music influences or impacts your listeners?
I think that there is a wide range of emotions showcased across the songs on ‘Progress’. There are uplifting celebrations of love and life with “Let Me Sing For You” and “x All The Love x”, just as there are more reflective songs such as “Applause” and “The Devil Is In The Details”. And there’s just fun nearly nonsensical tracks like “Proper Tings”, which is purely a tribute to my love of reggae, dub and jungle. For me, the music always has to make me feel something...whether it is happy or sad, but it’s got to give an emotional impact. What I found quite interesting from feedback from a small test group that I sent the album to was that they felt the album was quite a journey; with some people saying that they ran a gauntlet of emotions throughout listening to the songs in one sitting. I would say that is a positive thing to hear because they took the time to absorb the music and let it permeate through them. I think coming from a progressive rock/metal background where the emphasis was always on conveying an emotional honesty, I have tried to carry that over into MASS!VE DYNAM!C.
What projects are you working on right now? What can you tell us about your last job?
Work wise, I have a few clients that I'm doing audio work for. I tend to do sound design for visuals a lot of the time or doing audio restoration on foley recordings for film/TV. That tends to keep me fairly busy in all honesty. My last job was doing the musical score for a short film for a team in New Zealand, with the story based around Captain Cook’s arrival in New Zealand set in the late 1700’s...but it takes a twist-up with supernatural/Māori folklore elements, which was very cool to watch and write music for. When I get a chance to indulge in my own projects, then I usually have 3-4 different projects on the go at any one time. I find variety to be the spice of life...and besides, I get bored writing in one style or genre! Now that the MASS!VE DYNAM!C album is done, I can move onto the 2nd album for my OCEANICA project, which is more rooted in the progressive rock/metal style. The album will be coming out on Progressive Gears Records in early 2022 I hope. I also have a technical/extreme metal project that has slowly been coming together over the last year or so, which features some of my fave vocalists in that genre; so, that’s another thing I need to finish. I’ve started work on some stand-alone singles for MASS!VE DYNAM!C and will be doing some collaborations with other artists, which is always exciting because I learn new things from these people as much as teach them my tricks. It’s a great big skill-share really!
Where are you and what have you been doing now?
I’m currently on the south coast of England, staring out the window and enjoying a rare sunny day! I mean, it’s early October and it should be miserable weather...but it is thankfully a lovely day.
My main considerations for the next 5 minutes or so is whether to have a coffee or not! First world problems, eh? hahaha
Has that sound changed a lot in recent years? What is your musical criteria?
I would say that the MASS!VE DYNAM!C sound has definitely evolved over the last 10 years. I started out just making horrible noises and adding heavy guitars, but it’s definitely evolved into more rounded song-writing process that I aim for now. I still very much write whatever pleases me, hence why ‘Progress’ jumps all over the place musically. But I’ve always admired acts like Groove Armada, Chemical Brothers and others that can create a whole album of songs that are different to each other. I really dig that ‘progressive’ approach to song writing. I think my evolution as a composer has also informed how I’ve developed because I’m now not afraid to chuck in epic string arrangements into a track and make it fit. I love the bombastic nature of an orchestra, just as I love utilising a string quartet. The emotive power of strings and brass has always been something I’ve admired. I have gotten better at the production side of things too, which has developed over the years, so that has shaped the evolution of the sound I aim for. I think being a musician more than a DJ has typified how I go about my productions. I try to use as much live instrumentation as I can in my tracks and that is perhaps why they can get a bit wild and varied! The only criteria I have is that I’ve got to enjoy the song I write. Sure, it is a bonus if other people can come along for the journey and enjoy it too...but honestly, I have to write for myself first and foremost...otherwise I’m just cheating myself and I’m not a creative soul.
Do you feel safe now to play a more experimental sound?
I think coming from a quite experimental background has taught me that nothing is off the table and anything can work...it is just a case of tinkering until it fits. I used to be in a 8 piece live jazz/D’n’B band which prided itself on having a consistent flow to the beat but had a lot of instruments creating noises they shouldn’t! I’ve also been in, quite frankly, one of the most horrible sounding bands I’ve ever heard in my life...but that was the aim. To create what we called ‘sonic doom’. It was very loud, obnoxious and another experiment in creating sound! That sort of fearless/no f**ks given approach to making music has informed a lot of things I write...and it's created a near fearless approach to blending things together. I get a real kick out of making speaking-breaking noises...and my speaker/monitor graveyard testifies to that! hahaha
We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity?
I think what is interesting is that the technological revolution has allowed more and more people to create music from the comfort of their own homes. You can get a young kid making absolutely superb music on their laptop and it do very well...and I love seeing/hearing that sort of thing.
I would say that everyone starts somewhere and the music a person creates at one moment is perhaps not the music they would create a few years down the line. That is a joy of a creative evolution.
Can you tell us what your present and future projects are?
As mentioned, I’ve got some film/TV work to do and then I’ll continue with the various projects that I’ve got listed on my pinboard. I like to visually see a list of things that I need to do. I will try to sit down in any spare time I have and crack on with anything outstanding...but I will always go with how I am feeling at that moment. For example, I won’t dare try writing any super heavy angry metal if I’m feeling chill and just want to play some nice piano parts! That’s not conducive to a good result! Hahaha It all definitely revolves around my feelings in that moment. Thank you so much for allowing me to talk about my music and I hope people will check out the MASS!VE DYNAM!C album...and perhaps some other things I’ve done too! Peace!
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