Material Culture Freemason/Freemaison

Freemasonry is not a thing to be possessed. Nor is it something that is uniquely owned by anyone. As such, the influence and ideas of the ancient fraternity reach even beyond the walls of our ancient institution and seep into society at large. Does one influence the other? I would say yes, and can point to several institutions established on the Framework of Freemasonry. But that is not the purpose of this article.

Freemasonry is not limited to itself and is a part of society at large. One such example of this is the Electronic dance music produced by the band FREEMASON (aka Freemaison). They are not a Masonic band assembled by a lodge or a Rite, nor is it a free formed band consisting of Freemason brothers. They are a product of the material culture around us.

Coming from the Brighton area in England, they are shaping a larger and larger presence for themselves and the music industry. So far they have worked with and remixed Fat Boy Slim, Marvin Gaye, Faith Evans, Heather Headley, and Jamiroquai to name but a few. Described as “modern disco”, Freemason is becoming a fixed urban name on the music landscape. One item to note, they go by the name Freemsons, but also with another spelling – Freemaison, which I took to translate into “Free House”, which is a liberating expression of their sound.

I spent a short time talking to James Wiltshire with the group to find out who they are and see why they picked the name Freemasons. I think you’ll enjoy their answers and see some of Freemasonry’s impact on material culture.

(So you know, MT is for Masonic Traveler, and FM is Freemaison)

MT: Who are The Freemasons (Freemaisons)?
FM: We are Russell Small and James Wiltshire

MT: How and when did the band evolve? How did you come up with the Name Freemason/Freemaison?
FM: We worked together on previous dance music projects , but about 18 months ago work stated in ernest as we watched the first single grow from a simple Underground level (on 12″ Vinyl originally!!) to a level that was going to gain entry into the UK singles market… As the promotion gathered momentum we named ourselves after The Freemasons Arms at the top of Russell’s road….

Brighton has a long masonic history (one of the largest lodges is just around the corner from the pub in question) … The building where our studio is (again in the same road) used to be an old coach house, and as The Freemasons arms has been a licenced premises for many, many years, perhaps the name of the pub comes from it’s signifigance as a meeting point.

MT: Are any of you Freemasons?
FM: If we were, would we reveal ourselves so easily?

MT: How, if at all, does your name influence your music?
FM: Directly, our name probably does not influence our music… However, between ourselves – the creative engine of the project , Our record company (an independant called Loaded, based again in Brighton) and our manager, we are a group of people working hard and together, playing on each others strengths , and supporting each other to further our work and business… That does seem very similar to the ethos of the Freemasons….

Many months ago, when the band was in its infancy, I had to visit
London to remove myself from another project that was, in my opinion going in a direction I felt uncomfotable with. A young singer was involved and various business angles of a new recording were being kept from her, and I was going to have to compromise my beliefs in the way I like business to be conducted….

The meeting was painful and the conversation turned ugly….

On the train back to Brighton that night, I was quite upset to think that my chosen industry should be so full of deceit…. Five men came and sat around me moments before the train pulled off – they had been to a party thrown by the Mayor of London.

As we sped south, I overheard much of their conversation, work, jokes, memories of other nights out and even memories of times served abroad with the army…. One gentleman took a great interest in my laptop as he was thinking of buying his son one for christmas, and was facinated to find out I used computers to make music….. By the time the train was pulling into the station, I had cheered up no end – It’s very inspiring to know that a group of friends who had obviously worked together in some way for years, still had such great respect for each other…. As they left, their last conversations were of meetings at their respective lodges – I had just shared the journey with 5 Freemasons.

We had named our band they day before – Life has a beautiful way of showing you the correct path

MT: How would you describe your music to people who have never heard of you?
FM: Soulful electronic dance music

MT: What is your creative process in approaching your music?
FM: The creative process can take many courses…. It may be a simple musical idea or hook that triggers off an idea for a complete track, or the beginnings of a song … We are both

MT: What do you want to accomplish in creating it?
FM: Sometimes, personally, the act of creation alone can be reward enough… we have both in the past completed a lot of music that has never really gone further than the ears of ourselves and our friends, but anyone creating wishes to have their work appreciated by others – we have been lucky enough to see that happen a lot in recent months… As dance music is designed to be played to an audience, and we have been able to watch the reactions ourselves as DJ’s , we are lucky to see the direct response in people… there is nothing quite like seeing a club full of people whoop and cheer when you play your own records and suddenly they start to recognise it from the introduction…. From a business level, we want to further ourselves and our profile, work with great musicians and singers and create even better music….. we often joke that we have the best job in the world – what we do seems to make people’s days better

MT: Does your audience influence your creative process?
FM: Absolutely, without people dancing and enjoying our music , we would’nt be able to run a successful business…. trends and fashions within music might change, but people will always want to dance, we’ve just got to try and make records that they can dance to

MT: What do you feel are your greatest hurdles? Your greatest strengths?
FM: One of the greatest hurdles at the moment in the music industry is the volume of sales – it now takes just 8,000 copies a week to gain entry to the UK top 20 and that is not enough to support single releases … Illegal Downloads threaten the integrity and quality of all music as if things carry on , there will soon be no financially viable retail outlets …. Working independantly also can prove difficult as the whole machine is now powered in favour of the Major lables…. Our greatest strengths however lie in the fact that we can make master recordings very cheaply now thanks to technology and that our music makes people enjoy themselves – Music can be such a release (as any good art form should be) – it is inspiring to hear from fans that they enjoy our work as much as we do making it.

MT: Any upcoming projects to watch for?
FM: We have just completed a remix of Beyonce’s new single – She has now reached iconic status within the music industry and we are very proud to have been asked … We have also completed a new single featuring the wonderful vocals of Seidah Garrett (who co-wrote Michael Jackson’s Man In the mirror and dueted with him on “I just can’t stop loving you” … the new single will be followed by a hybrid Compilation and artist album containing the best of our work to date.

Check out the Freemasons at their website here

or take a listen and have a lookat their music here:


~ by Greg on July 14, 2006.

2 Responses to “Material Culture Freemason/Freemaison”

  1. I didn’t realize the Solid Gold Dancers were back in style. Is this the state of modern music?

    Widow’s Son

  2. Heh – say what you want, but I actually enjoyed the 80s! I liked the clip – it’s good to hear some upbeat music for a change. The grunge/emo depressive stuff gets on my nerves after a while.

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