Today Dean Mason is making waves in the world of electronic dance music, but his dream had to start somewhere. The New York native had been testing his hands at the decks back in 2007, but he only committed to the profession of being a performing DJ in 2009. In just five years since then, he’s already launched his own clothing line, Officially Addicted, and has closed out music festivals with the likes of Erick Morillo with over 7,000 people in attendance. He’s shared the stage with Fedde Le Grand, Chuckie, Tritonal and many other international DJ stars, and today up and coming artists are starting to say that they played with Dean Mason. There is no doubt that Dean’s career is taking off at the right time and he gives a lot of credit for this to his Groove Cruise family. Back in 2012, at the suggestion of two close friends who were Groove Cruise veterans already, Dean entered the Miami Groove Cruise DJ contest. A few months later, he was spinning next to Roger Sanchez on the beach in Miami as the proud (and nervous) winner of that year’s competition. We caught up with Dean to talk about this year’s Groove Cruise Los Angeles, how winning the DJ contest changed his life, and got a few pieces of advice for the soon to be winner of the 2014 Groove Cruise LA DJ contest.
Rabbits Black: This past weekend you had your birthday bash with ATB at the Intervention pool party in San Diego. Why ATB and why San Diego for the big celebration?
Dean Mason: 18 years ago I heard “Till I Come” by ATB and have been a fan ever since, so I figured it would be a great fit and a great event. I’ve been looking to get into Intervention for a while now and I wanted to give my fans a treat, and I knew that a Sunday Funday at Intervention would be a very special event.
Rabbits Black: You make it very clear that you are a fan of the scene and music. Is it important to follow the scene and remain a fan even when it becomes your job?
Dean Mason: Yes, you should always be a fan and have passion for what you do. What most people don’t know is that I was a club goer in the scene long before my days on the decks. House music has always been such a big influence in my life even before I was DJing. I love how the music brings everyone together and I love providing that environment for all my fans.
Rabbits Black: You started DJing around 2009, correct? How did you move from being a fan to trying your hand at the tables?
Dean Mason: I actually started in 2007, but by 2009 I was doing it in full force. My father was a drummer in a band for a very long time, so growing up seeing him performing struck my interests at a very young age. When I grew older and realized that house music had changed my life, I knew that musically that was the direction I wanted to take. What really sealed the deal was seeing Erick Morillo and Steve Angello afterhours on the patio at Club Space in Miami. Erick had always been an inspiration to me, so after that morning, I realized that making and sharing music was what I wanted to do. Having shared the stage with Erick at Wet Electric last year and now again in October on the Groove Cruise is something really special to me.
Rabbits Black: These days you share the stage with ATB and Erick Morillo as you mentioned. You played to over 7,000 people last year with Erick in Southern California. Take us back to 2012 though and before you entered the Groove Cruise DJ contest. Where were you in your career?
Dean Mason: Before the DJ competition I was opening up for a lot of the big artists. Now I’ve been lucky enough to be headlining most of my gigs and sharing the stage with some of the top guys in the industry.
Rabbits Black: How did you get introduced to the Groove Cruise DJ contest?
Dean Mason: First off, let me just say that I have always been a competitive person in life. So when two of my good buddies Drew and Lee who had been on the Groove Cruise MANY times before, introduced me to the competition, I jumped on board right away.
Rabbits Black: Do you remember the mix you submitted?
Dean Mason: Yes, I remember it like yesterday. I picked that mix for the contest because I knew it would be different then what everyone else was playing at the time and took a chance on it. At the end of the day, it was authentic and genuine to whom I was as an artist at the time.
Rabbits Black: What was the experience like seeing your friends and also people you never met voting for it?
Dean Mason: I know I was probably really annoying to a lot of people by repeatedly asking for their support, but it was all worth it in the end. My friends and fans, which today have become my Groove Cruise family, were supportive every single day since day one. OK, maybe not every single day since I got deleted and blocked by some people! (laughs)
Rabbits Black: Tell us the truth, did you think you could win? What was your reaction when you found out?
Dean Mason: Based on the support I had throughout the competition, I knew I had a real shot at winning. I found out I won when I was at the gym doing bicep curls and Ryan Fitz called to tell me the great news. I actually dropped the weight on my big toe, it turned purple and never grew back the same. Definitely unforgettable!
Rabbits Black: Bring us back to your first set on the Groove Cruise. What was the experience like?
Dean Mason: I opened up for Roger Sanchez on the beach in the Bahamas. I had opened up for him a few times before, so it definitely calmed my nerves a bit. I was still very anxious and excited at the same time because I felt that being the contest winner, I would have big expectations to live up to.
Rabbits Black: Do you feel like winning the Groove Cruise DJ contest was a turning point in your career?
Dean Mason: Absolutely. I have made lifelong friends, new fans, and many new connections. It has opened up many new doors for me and has allowed me to share my music with more and more people each and every time. I always remind myself that it is what you make of it. It hasn’t been an easy or a smooth ride all the way through, but I just try to stay humble and grateful for all that comes into my life.
Rabbits Black: You’ve been performing on the Groove Cruise consistently now since 2012. What keeps bringing you back on board?
Dean Mason: You can’t know unless you’ve experienced it. Just ask anyone that has been on it! (smiles)
Rabbits Black: Tell us about your brand Officially Addicted. It was amazing how many people we saw on the Groove Cruise LA last year decked out in the gear!
Dean Mason: Officially Addicted is my brand and it represents the positivity and unity of my fans when they come together at my shows. It sheds a positive light on the term addicted and represents all the good things one can be addicted to, whether it’s the music, the people, the parties, or the scene as a whole. I really have the most loyal and amazing fans I could ever ask for! ‘Team Addicted’ is definitely a sexy bunch that represent with my snapbacks, clothing, wristbands and all the other gear to all of my shows.
Rabbits Black: We’ve been listening to your new track “Higher” and we have to say it’s a different sound for you! How did it come about?
Dean Mason: For “Higher” I wanted to do something a little prettier and softer, rather than a mainstream banger. I just fell in love with the beautiful vocals and had to create a song for it. I would say that if I get chills from a vocal then that is inspiration enough. Don’t get me wrong, I love bangers and my next single “Fairydust”, which is being released a month after “Higher”, definitely bangs.
Rabbits Black: Leave us with some words of advice for the first time Groove Cruisers coming aboard this year?
Dean Mason: I would say… get ready for the ride of your life, leave your inhibitions at home, constantly hydrate, and pace yourselves! I’d like to extend the invitation to all of you newbies out there to come say hi when you see me on the boat.
Rabbits Black: What about some advice for the person who is going to win the Groove Cruise LA DJ contest this year…
Dean Mason: First, I’d say congrats and welcome to the family. I’d also say to enjoy the experience and don’t party too hard. You may just pass out and have to rush to your set in your pajamas! (smiles)
Thank you to Dean Mason for his time and insight. Dean is performing on Friday on the Groove Cruise LA with Erick Morillo and Will Sparks at the Dancing Astronaut stage. You can follow Dean at the links below.
There is still time to vote for your favorite mix and unsigned artist to spin on the Groove Cruise LA 2014! Voting ends on September 2nd at 8:59 PM PST. Here’s how to vote.
1) Head on over to the Groove Cruise LA DJ Contest Entries page.
2) Click on a mix to pull up the media player and voting page.
3) Like what you hear? Hit the “VOTE FOR THIS ENTRY” button under the media player.
Only 8% of the cabins for Groove Cruise LA X remain! Book yours now here with the discount code: rabbitsblack