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The songscrap producer and haunted vocalist who made the Beta Band one of the brightest lights in Great Britain's post-Brit-pop world, Steve Mason was born in Edinburgh and formed the group during the mid-'90s. The Beta Band was originally a duo consisting of Mason and Gordon Anderson, although Anderson left the lineup shortly thereafter and the group coalesced around Robin Jones on drums, John Maclean on keyboards, sampler, and turntables, and Richard Greentree on bass. From that point onward, Mason served as the group's unofficial leader. The Beta Band earned heaps of critical praise with an opening salvo of three EPs, all released on Regal and leading up to the release of their acclaimed debut album, 1999's The Beta Band. (Their fame only grew after they were name-dropped in the film High Fidelity by John Cusack, whose character claimed -- and then proved -- that he could immediately sell five copies of their EP collection, The Three E.P.'s, simply by playing one track.) The follow-up, Hot Shots II, earned greater praise, although shortly after their third release, 2004's Heroes to Zeros, the band announced their breakup. Mason had already debuted a solo project, King Biscuit Time, late in 1998, and during the 18 months that followed the Beta Band's breakup, he released a pair of King Biscuit singles -- including "C I AM 15," which reached number 67 on the British charts -- and a full album, 2006's Black Gold. One year later, he launched an electronica project called Black Affair, and a techno-influenced LP titled Pleasure Pressure Point appeared on V2 in 2008. He subsequently returned to a Beta Band format for his first album under his own name, a late-2009 single titled "All Come Down." The expected full-length album, Boys Outside, with production help from Richard X, appeared in 2010 on Double Six, distributed by Domino. Provided with polished production, Steve Mason's poignant songwriting and powerful vocals were brought to the fore. The album was then given a dub reworking by Mason and Dennis Bovell. Ghosts Outside displayed the singer/songwriter's effortless ability to span genres successfully, while remixing the likes of Django Django showed Mason's hunger for creativity was not slowing down. In early 2013, his third album under his own name arrived. Among its sprawling 20 tracks, Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time explored depression, politics, and human nature, bringing together many genres to create a mesmerizing experience. ~ John Bush
17 April 1975 in Edinburgh, Scotland
'90s, '00s, '10s