Artist Feature: Tenen and Arii Mas

Tenen states his music is inspired by his emotions on a daily basis, what he is mentally channeling. 

By Jessica Thompson, Contributing Director Photography by Jon Hopper

DAMchic duo Jess Thompson and Jon Hopper teamed up with two local musicians Tenen and Arii Mas. The artists wore Brain Melt Media Merchandise, which was designed by none other than Jon Hopper. The apparel will be available for purchase in the near future with proceeds going towards the Black Lives Matter Movement. Getting a closer look with two talented performers and a chance to mess around on the parking garage. Meet our featured artists Tenen and Arii Mas.


When did you first kick start your music career?

To be honest I feel like I haven’t really even kick started anything yet. It’s always been a personal thing for me that will eventually lead to new opportunities.

What motivated you to start creating music?

I’ve always been around music so it’s always been something I feel like I’ve had an ear for especially coming from New Orleans. Mainly, I am motivated by just wanting a place to vent when I do not have anyone to talk to. My music serves as that.

What in your daily life inspires you to make music?

At the end of the day most my inspiration comes from how I was feeling that day or if something that affects me mentally. Good or bad. 

When can we expect to hear some new music?

If you want me to be honest. I can’t say when. It’s a mental thing for me. In order for there to even be a thought of me putting something out, I have to be in the right head space. Sooner rather than later though.

How long does it take you to compose a piece of music?

Depends on how much energy is in a room with other artists, it all comes down to who I’m working with or how quickly I get attached to a beat or sample. Usually, most of my records come on the spot and I’ll get a record done in 30 minutes or less.

Where are your favorite places to perform?

New Orleans, for sure, even though I haven’t had any major gigs just open mics and what not. But Portland will always have my heart especially at this point in my music life.

Can you share with our readers one of your favorite moments or experiences during your music career?

One of my favorite moments til this day has to be when I performed at my first festival in Portland. Usually I’m not that hype in the crowd type but during the last song of my set. I couldn’t help but notice this white haired old couple getting down to my stuff. At that point I knew having the mindset of changing the world with my music is more than a possibility but just one song away.

Arii Mas (Mason)

When did you first kick start your music career? 

When I arrived at OSU, I would constantly be DJing in my dorm room and during Lambda Chi functions just for fun, eventually helping to throw some of the biggest parties and playing somewhere every week. Pretty soon a lot of people knew me as the Lambda DJ and even made up the nickname “DJ Mace” for me! Even then, I still viewed music as a hobby, with aspirations in engineering and finance. 

The turning point for me was after I had my first gig: DJing for the Weatherford Ball at the end of 2015. Before then, I had no idea how I would possibly make a living by being a musician, but having that first contract was a very eye opening experience. 

After that I kept going after similar opportunities and learned more and more, falling deeper in love with dance music every step of the way. It wasn’t until halfway through my sophomore year when I decided to switch my major to Music Technology & Production and focus on creating opportunities based around me being an EDM artist as “Arii Mas.” 

What motivated you to start creating music and/or lyrics? 

Music has always been a part of my life, and serves a lot of spiritual and historical significance in my culture as a Polynesian. As a Hawai’i born-and-raised son of a Tahitian family, I would continuously learn oli (chant), mele (song), hula (Hawaiian dance), ori (Tahitian dance), and more as part of tradition across the islands. 

Around 11 years old I started to develop my own personal taste in music, always listening to Green Day CDs. I would steal my sister’s nylon string guitar and Casio keyboard because she wasn’t very interested in playing them. From then on I learned and wrote pop-punk music by ear, and when I was 13 I learned how to play the drums. I always wanted to make a band, but didn’t know enough people in my tiny hometown that wanted to make pop-punk. 

Throughout high school I slowly got into DJing, learning from my friends who would DJ our school dances, and eventually I was hooked. It was so fascinating to me that someone could create an epically full production all by themselves, so to me it was the perfect solution to not having a band. 

These are the earliest memories I have of music making, but my mother always brings up baby photos of me messing around on an electronic drum kit. 

What in your daily life inspires you to make music? 

Other people have been my main motivation for most of my career life. Family, friends, fans, and even strangers. There is a unique bond between all of us when it comes to live music. Music is a universal language that unifies the people listening to it under a shared common experience, something that is truly beautiful in my opinion. There is nothing I love more than the energy that people give off when they hear their favorite track, a nostalgic throwback, or even an underground banger. Itʻs that energy that usually pushes me to want to do more. 

To be completely honest, it has been difficult to be creative since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more so with recent events in racial injustice and police brutality. In a way it has been forcing me to become intrinsically motivated about music again, like when I was younger: playing music just for the spiritual connection and love of music. 

Iʻve also been experimenting with ways to incorporate more of my own culture into the music I make as a way to evolve indigenous music into the modern world, so finding pride in my ethnic identity has been a big source of inspiration. 

When can we expect to hear some new music? 

Soon! All of my music equipment is still in Oregon, so Iʻve been adjusting to making music with just my laptop, headphones, and a midi controller. With that being said, Iʻm currently working on some collabs with my Corvallis friends Evanescent Euphoria and Rico!, as well as a remix of the song “Dopesick” by the Portland based rapper, El Guapo. My Instagram and Facebook pages will have all of the updates! 

How long does it take you to compose a piece of music? 

Anywhere from a couple hours to a couple months, with some of my favorite pieces being produced in less than a day. Once I get a lot of ideas flowing the rest of the track comes naturally. A lot of it depends on whether or not the project will have collaborators, since collaboration requires a good amount of coordination, communication, and time management from both sides. It getʻs even more complex when collaborating overseas. 

However, some of my solo tracks go untouched for a year! Iʻll make a track, forget about it, and then rediscover it months later and remix it to sound current. Sometimes Iʻll make a banger and wonʻt release it, but I will play live at almost every rave. 

One of my favorite collabs was made in a single night with my good friend and Hip-Hop producer Spacey. Weʻve been sitting on that for a while now. 

Where are your favorite places to perform? 

Although I absolutely love the grunginess and intimacy of nightclubs, outdoor raves top everything so far. There is something so surreal about setting up a makeshift renegade in the middle of a forest or lake, involving nature in the artistic experience. Iʻve yet to do a desert rave, but I hear those are amazing. Because of my connection to the ocean, my absolute dream is to play major events overlooking the water, on beaches, at beach clubs, or on cruise ships. 

However, it is very crucial that these types of events do their best part in keeping their footprint as small as possible. I always return to the site the next morning to make sure there is no forgotten trash left around for the events that I host. Generally people do very well at being respectful! 

The first festival I went to, Lightning in a Bottle, emphasizes this as well. They separate trash, recycling and compost, have speakers talk on the importance of caring for the environment, and always play a clean-up theme song at the end of each day. Something that every outdoor festival should consider. 

Can you share with our readers one of your favorite moments or experiences during your music career? 

My favorite memory is winning OSUʻs Battle of the DJs 2018 by far. I gave it my all that night after preparing dawn to dusk for a month straight, but to see everyoneʻs reactions was something else. Everyone danced and screamed so hard that night, an energy I had never seen up until that point. 

There were so many familiar faces out too, and the amount of love and support I received from everyone was almost overwhelming. Afterwards I was running into so many new opportunities everything just took off. So far Iʻve had the chance to play in Seattle, Portland, and Eugene, and almost every venue in Corvallis. 

Battle of the DJs was when I truly realized that I was on the right path, and I have the OSU community to thank for it. Whenever and wherever it may be, I canʻt wait to rave with you all again!

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