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Feature: Mafia B [Interview]

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Bryan Fein, also known as Mafia B, a Manhattan born and raised DJ and producer is no stranger to the House Music scene. He spent his early youth immersed in NYC culture of the late 00’s, finding success playing at some of the cities trendiest venues, most notably Marquee, Cielo, Output, Analog BKNY, Highline Ballroom and Sankeys. He also shared the booth with a broad range of international talent, eventually opening for house music legend Erick Morillo. We had a chance to catch up with Bryan on the cusp of his debut album ‘B-63’ out now via SLC-6 Music. Enjoy.

Hi Bryan, thanks for sitting with us today! Tell us where in the world you are today and what are your plans for the week.

Bryan: Thank you for having me. I’m currently in New York where I was born and raised. I’m still recovering from playing at Elements Festival at the Knockdown Center on New Year’s eve and I’ve got to say it was a blast! This week’s plans is to organize my music and continue to produce new tunes.

What does a studio day look like for you?

Bryan: My studio day usually consist of me just messing around and trying to come up with something new.

Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer and DJ?

Bryan: I discovered electronic music through Martial Arts. As a kid I would take Tae Kwon Do classes and my instructor, who is also a nightlife DJ, would play house music during our training.

I would get so accustomed to listening to house music that I grew a liking to it. My instructor had influenced me to become a DJ and one summer I downloaded a software that allowed me to mix music together and from there I really haven’t looked back. It was about 2-3 year into my DJ career that I wanted to learn how to create my own music.

At which club or event did you experience electronic music for the first time and what memories have stuck with you from that moment?

Bryan: I remember going to Ezoo for the 1st time back in freshman year of college, and just being in awe. I was amazed by how the music can have such an effect on everyone.

Can you name 3-5 tracks that were influential in your musical development?

Bryan: I don’t think I can name a particular track that was influential but, the 2 artists that are very influential to me is Eric Prydz and Deadmau5.

The United States has really taken to electronic music over the last 15 years or so. How has growing up and living there shaped your sound and career?

Bryan: Thanks to electronic music coming to the United States, I put more house music influences in my music and my sets.

The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays?

Bryan: I usually find new music by listening to live sets of DJs I like, as well as listen to their music podcast.

Your productions are quite unique, some can be deeper, and some are more on the peak time tip. Is this versatility something you strive for in the studio and what do you want your music to convey to the listener?

Bryan: Yes, I always like to create something I haven’t done yet, hence why all my tracks are all different from each other. I don’t know if my music has a message to the listener but all I can do is hope that they enjoy it.

Your first album ‘B-63’ was recently released on SLC-6 Music, it’s a powerful collection of music. Tell us how it began to take shape? Was there an initial goal of writing an album from the beginning or did this happen organically in a way?

Bryan: When producing these records, I wasn’t planning to make an album out of it. The goal was just to produce music everyday. I approached David Macintyre (label boss) about working together to release an EP but he had a better idea to release a bigger body of work.

I get a energetic and generally tougher vibe from the album, but there is also a softer more timeless sensibility on certain tracks like ‘Don’t Start’ and ‘Shattered’. Can you share any inspirations you had behind those particular pieces?

Bryan: There wasn’t a particular thing that inspired me to create those records. I just wanted to create something different that I haven’t done before and testing myself musically.

What made SLC-6 Music the right home for this collection of music?

Bryan: Prior to my tracks being signed, I’ve been watching SLC-6 on how they put a lot of time and effort into releasing music and caring for their artist. Once I saw that, I knew this was the right home for my records.

What are your go to tools in the studio and what featured heavily on this album?

Bryan: I produce everything in the box, meaning I do everything internally on my laptop. So, my laptop is my go-to tool, Ha!

How did you end up with the final track selection and how did you go about cutting stuff out? There must be a point where it becomes quite difficult letting go of certain pieces?

Bryan: Working with David Macintyre has made it easy to come up with the final track selection. We originally went back and forth to see which track selection would work best until he presented me with a track like that flowed with ease.

We really didn’t cut out a track intentionally; there was one particular track that we had to swap out due to a sample that I didn’t have clearance for. So, I just created a new track, ‘Right Now’ and swapped it in.

I would guess the writing of the album was a long process. Now that it’s done and out, what are your thoughts reflecting on the process?

Bryan: I took this album as a learning exercise. I’ve learned new sound design techniques as well as mixing techniques. Every track is different so it had to be treated and processed in a unique way.

How would you feel about these tracks being remixed? And will they be?

Bryan: We have included a Reborn remix by Heat Mode in the album. I’d be more than happy to have my records remixed just to hear someone else’s interpretation of my music.

Do you think the digital era changed the way we perceive artist albums? Do they still carry the weight they once did?

Bryan: I do believe the digital era definitely changed the game when it comes to albums. Being in the digital era, music is a lot more accessible and allows people to listen to a full album on the go.

There are a lot of factors which affect the perception of an artist other than his music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? and what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

Bryan: Ugh, I have a strong love/hate for social media haha, but it’s one of those things you have to do. As an artist today, I believe you have to cover all basis such as keeping your socials up-to-date, networking, branding etc, but the most important thing is producing. You have to have good music and without that you have no oil for your vehicle.

I believe it’s a lot “easier” to get your name out there than ever before, thanks to social media, so its not entirely a negative.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does inspiration come from?

Bryan: I might be one of the few producers who really doesn’t tie personal experiences with the music that is being created, at least at the moment. I simply enjoy being creative and expressing that through music.

When working on music is the dance floor always something that’s taken into consideration? Or does a certain vibe or flow sometimes transcend that?

Bryan: Yes, absolutely! When producing I always consider how the crowd may react to the track. Once the track is “complete” (tracks are never entirely complete for me) I listen to it in a different environment that’s outside my studio and I try to imagine how I would feel if I heard this particular track live.

How much of an influence does music outside of the electronic spectrum have on you?

Bryan: Thanks to my Dad, I grew up listening to Classic Rock and attending concerts with him. I believe it was a major influence on me musically. In some of my productions I try to imitate how a drummer would play in my songs.

Describe one or some of the best sets you’ve played in your career. Where was the venue and how was the vibe? Do you often feel inspired to make music after being on the road?

Bryan: I can say that playing Elements music & arts festival on NYE at the Knockdown Center was truly an experience. The vibe and the energy from the crowd was amazing, especially seeing how the crowd would react when I play a new track of mine – its satisfying for sure. After each show I play I feel inspired to create something entirely new to show off at my next gig.

Looking back over your discography, which one of your very first tracks still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why?

Bryan: One of my older tracks that I still enjoy is my official remix to Alberto Costas’ ‘Come With Me’. It’s very different from all my tracks to date and the vibe is just right…thank you MAFIA B!

Current five favorite tracks?

Bryan: My favorite tracks at the moment are:

Dysco, D.J. MacIntyre – People of the Sun

Unseen, S.PHIA – More

Enrico Sangiuliano – Hidden T

Enrico Sangiuliano – Blooming Era

Pryda – Power Drive (all time favorite)

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Bryan: Getting some sleep.

What can we expect from you for the rest 2020? Any releases or special dates we should be looking out for?

Bryan: Well, keep your eye out for the release of B-63 which will be coming out in February and in regards to newer music… a lot, no particular dates for those just yet but they will be coming.

‘B-63’ is out now on SLC-6 Music, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/2UG9PXQ

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