Aug 31, 2016
Mason Feat. Stefflon Don - “Fashion Killa (Papapapa)”
Now complete with a music video and official remixes, Dutch DJ/producer Mason dives into the story behind his hit summer track, “Fashion Killa.” Discover the inspiration and creation of the instrumental track and the transformation it went through once he incorporated rising UK rap star Stefflon Don’s vocals.
What was the initial inspiration for this track? Where did you find the “Papapapa” vocal sample and what stood out to you about it?
I originally had this nine year old kid in the UK sing a bunch of stuff in a recording session. I cut this up and it turned out to be a little vocal thingy I used to play out during my DJ sets that worked well for me. Later on I released it on Loulou Records as “Papapapa” and reached a Beatport #1, which was pretty mind-blowing. I then got signed to the legendary Island Records, who I worked with to release this track in a new form as “Fashion Killa.”
For you, what’s the biggest difference when approaching the production of an instrumental compared to a vocal track?
I’m always writing and producing stuff with a dancefloor in mind, whether it’s an instrumental or a vocal record. Most of my releases aren’t full on vocal, but more club driven - basically stuff I’d want to play out myself in my DJ sets. However, I do like the area between pop and dance, so if the right track comes around, like with "Fashion Killa," I don’t mind going full vocal with it, and don’t care too much about a chin-stroking super underground minority. I love pop music, as long as it’s good and cool. Not all dance music that makes it to radio is corny and cheap, sometimes there’s room for cool stuff too.
What unique challenges does working a vocal into an existing instrumental track pose?
You have to let go of the previous arrangement that worked in clubs and arrange the track again from scratch in a way that suits the vocal or song structure. Also a mixdown for radio is somewhat different than a mixdown for clubs. On radio you want to hear the song, and the beat supports that. In clubs it’s the opposite - it’s all about beats and bass, and vocals only support that. However, I do like to keep a certain raw and clubby feel to my more vocal-ish records…I guess it’s what you get when you’ve been DJing too long.
How did you come to work with Stefflon Don on this track? What was the process like integrating her rap/vocals?
Initially I worked with Azaelia Banks on this record. But after her racial and homophobic Twitter remarks, I stopped the collaboration and looked for someone even better. I'm super happy that Stefflon Don was up for it, as I love what she does. Process-wise, she got a carte blanche to record whatever she wanted. Afterwards I arranged the best bits and threw my producer tricks at it.
What do you think the vocals add to the song? Do the lyrics hold any particular meaning to you?
I think going out is about having fun and nightlife and so its music shouldn’t be too serious for me. You don’t have to look for a big philosophical meaning referring to Nietzsche behind most of my tracks - I just want people to have fun and have a good time, while hearing something fresh and different.
Do you feel that you use “Fashion Killa” in your sets differently than you use and previously used “Papapapa” due to the added vocals?
It depends a bit on where I play - some crowds are more underground minded than others, so I decide which version suits best accordingly.
How were the remixers chosen? Do you have a favorite remix?
I’m pretty blown away by Endor’s latest stuff, it’s really fresh and different, so I was happy to have him on board as a remixer. Apart from that, Bon Voyage are producer friends for a long time, and always deliver, as they did now. I also just did a remix swap with upcoming superstar Vanilla Ace, who took the track to a more acidy territory.
Do you tend to play the instrumental, vocal version, or a remix in your sets?
Obviously I made my own private edit as always :-)
How do you think the music video for “Fashion Killa” adds to the song?
We worked with French director Marion Dupas, who took the title pretty literally and created this female Fashion Killa that looks quite stunning. Hope you guys like it, check it out here:
What else does the rest of 2016 hold for you?
I have a whole bunch of club focused tracks coming up on labels such as Kitt Ball, Loulou Records, Bunny Tiger, Club Sweat and of course my own Animal Language imprint. Apart from that I’m in the middle of this collaboration with Lifelike, as well as one with Yolanda Be Cool. And working on some tracks under my pseudonym… well you get the picture, I’m keeping myself off the streets!
Mason ft. Stefflon Don - “Fashion Killa (Papapapa)” is out now on Island Records.
short link 1001.tl/w1n9su