Apr 27, 2023
John Cameron & Katie Knight
6 min read
Only a few short years ago, Massano looked up to melodic techno figureheads such as Tale of Us and Mind Against as distant role models. Today, the Liverpool producer and DJ counts them among his close peers.
Look no further for evidence than what transpired at Afterlife Madrid in March 2023. Not only did Massano (real name Sam Rose) share the stage with Afterlife bosses Tale of Us, but the duo tested out his cinematic single, “Shutdown,” during their set.
“Madrid felt extra special to me. I’d had a month off before that, so it was a big show to test all this new music,” Rose says. “To get such great reactions was confirmation that it had been a good month of producing.”
Support from major acts and crowds in the tens of thousands is now a common occurrence for Rose. Prior to the pandemic, though, it seemed a remote possibility.
Sam Rose first discovered dance music as a child. His father would play it around the house and even brought him to a Faithless concert when he was only 11 years old.
“I remember looking around and seeing people enjoying the rave and just being like, ‘What is going on?’” he says. “It seemed like chaos at the time, but now it seems really normal.”
This initial exposure didn’t evolve into a career ambition overnight. “I wasn’t super into it from that stage — that’s just my earliest memories it,” Rose says. “I think around the time I started going to house parties was when I started getting really into electronic music and found a love for discovering new music and making playlists to share it with people.”
By Rose’s first year of university in Lancaster, the music industry started to beckon. In this nascent stage, though, he still hadn’t set his sights on DJing and producing.
“I started thinking about what I wanted to do long term in life, and what interested me the most was this music stuff that I was doing. I didn’t necessarily think ‘I want to be a DJ.’ I just started thinking about what I could do to get into the music industry in any way because I hadn’t really had experience with any of it.”
Sam Rose started applying for management internships with brands like Universal Music Group. As luck would have it, they only wanted candidates with experience. Around the same time, he started teaching himself how to produce and play music as a hobby. Not long afterward, he began to pursue it in earnest.
“I was aimlessly doing it and not really putting much energy into it. I’d say I was producing maybe twice a week at that stage, and then DJing just for fun occasionally,” Rose says. “But then, I started thinking, ‘I’m actually really enjoying the producing and the DJing,’ so I thought that it might actually be what I wanted to do within the music industry.”
He continues: “After my second year of university, I started pushing myself to do as much as I could and spend as much time as possible on it. I moved to London for an internship where I was working with Vodafone in a marketing role. But whilst working for Vodafone, I was also pushing myself to spend as much time as I could on the music.”
Rose suffered from homesickness, having yet to make new friends in London. In the long run, this worked to his advantage. Relegated to his bedroom studio on the weekends, he gave music his undivided attention. It didn’t take long for this to come back to him in the form of opportunities.
“In the six months after that, I got to a point where I was ready to start releasing music,” Rose says. “I’d try and work from home as much as I could, keeping the laptop from work open on one screen while I worked on music on the other screen. That’s when I made my biggest track, ‘The Feeling,’ — and ‘Velocità’ was also in that six months.”
Rose released his music under the name Massano from the beginning. “I brainstormed and made anagrams of my name. I thought about which ones I liked the most, and in the end, I went with Massano,” he says. “Not often do people stick with the first project, so I figured I didn’t need to think too much about it. I love the name now especially, as it’s got a lot of meaning to me.”
A lot of Afterlife artists co-signed Massano early on — perhaps most notably Mind Against. The Italian duo played his tracks at Afterlife Tulum 2020, and then again during their Cercle set later in January.
“I didn’t even have an Instagram,” Rose admits. “The next morning, the label manager from Running Clouds told me, “You need to make an Instagram now because people are looking for you. I made one, and within the first couple of days, I had, like, a thousand followers already.”
Timing was not on Massano’s side, however. Two months later, the World Health Organization declared COVID a pandemic, preventing him from leveraging his newfound popularity toward gigging.
Over the next year and a half, Rose stocked his proverbial shelves with new music and then opened for business once nightlife resumed. “Things went from zero to 100 because I’d grown so much without really DJing,” he says. “I’d DJed in friends’ house parties and smaller local clubs for university, but never anything properly as a Massano show. So then after COVID, I went from having not so much gig experience to getting booked every weekend.”
Massano has continued to gain momentum ever since. He has performed throughout Europe and South America, landing on the lineups of such festivals as Time Warp Brazil and Kappa FuturFestival in Italy. 2023 also marked his first US tour dates, including a headline billing at NYC club Superior Ingredients.
“What’s great about the shows is it’s noticeable how much if you work at it in different markets, the shows keep getting bigger and you keep engaging more fans. It’s nice to see the your effort pay off,” Rose says.
Cliquing up with his heroes doesn’t mean he’s reached his destination in the music world. Far from it, in fact. The road up to now offers a mere glimpse at what lies in store for Massano as he’s only begun to explore the depth of his sound.