The shirts are hard to miss—bold white letters on black shirts, often announcing “WE ARE MASSIV” or simply “MASSIV.” They’ve been seen on everyone from Skrillex to Kris “Rain Man” Trindl of Krewella. Even Rihanna wore a Massiv shirt, one emblazoned with “MENTAL SLAVERY,” crossed out with a red line. Later this month, the Los Angeles-based clothing company and lifestyle brand will capitalize on its popularity (and close friendship) with EDM’s hottest underground talent to sponsor a mini SoCal tour. But true to its name, this is an operation that has even bigger things in its sights. Listen to AC Slater’s MASSIV. Tour Mix, exclusively here and watch the tour video premiere below:
“Massiv is a lifestyle brand that I started a couple years ago,” explains co-founder Nathan Amar, huddled on a couch next to DJs 12th Planet and AC Slater inside the loft/studio space on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles known as The Compound. “I really just wanted to make it for the masses, for everyone.”
Amar began Massiv in late 2011 as a t-shirt line and a blog with Gary McCann (aka Caspa) and Daniel Linton (aka Daniel LeDisko of LA Riots) later joining as co-owners. It became instantly popular with Amar’s group of friends, many who happened to be DJs, in and around Downtown Los Angeles. Along with hats, hoodies and tote bags, Massiv as a visual brand has come to represent a style of music (typically with heavy bass) and a loosely affiliated crew of musicians (often based on or around Spring Street).
“I’ve been supporting the brand since day one, since before it was even Massiv,” explains John Dadzie, aka 12th Planet. “As we grow, I want that brand to grow with us. We’ve been with each other in different realms, and if I get the opportunity to showcase something, I want to do it and make it special.”
“I feel like if it wasn’t for these guys repping it, it wouldn’t be where it is,” says Amar, referring to the DJs on the couch with him.
“That’s the beauty of it too,” Slater chimes in. “He’s not like, ‘Hey man, can you wear this shirt?’ It’s always just happened naturally. And then people see it in pictures and stuff and the kids are like, ‘Where can you get that?’”
Amar notes a direct correlation between where his DJ friends tour and where online sales of Massiv products spike, though with EDM’s general popularity on social media, such ad-hoc marketing is hardly limited to in-person appearances.
“Someone could post [a photo of an artist in a Massiv shirt] and we get orders instantly all over the world,” Amar explains, as when Rihanna wore the line’s “Mental Slavery” shirt, leading to a steady uptick in traffic and sales.
For former Brooklynite AC Slater (aka Aaron Clevenger), Massiv and its Downtown L.A. nexus have become a home away from home, especially as he has greater geographic distance between himself and Trouble & Bass, the New York-based quartet of DJs including Drop the Lime, that Clevenger is a founding member of.
“With Trouble & Bass it was different because it’s a crew and it’s a label,” Clevenger explains. “This is just like, my homie makes shirts. I like ‘em and I want to wear ‘em. I like to think of it as this secret thing that’s right in front of everyone’s face. People see it and they’re like ‘What is that?’”
“People email us and think that we’re a DJ group,” Amar admits. “People want to send us tunes and stuff like that. We get hit up all the time about what we represent. I don’t know if a lot of other brands get interrogated about what kind of brand they are.”
For their first outside collaboration, Massiv partnered with the Dream Hotel in New York on a contest for a room and gear giveaway. Though this tour is Massiv’s first official foray into music, Amar says that this could be the first of more Massiv-branded music events, eventually leading to a Massiv festival. For now, Amar and his staff of four are focused on the three-date tour (which they promise will feature some big-name special guests. They’re also opening a storefront, up the street from The Compound in the heart of a revitalized strip of Downtown. Despite its expansion and its ambition, Massiv remains fiercely independent and committed to the creative processes of everyone in its expanding network of artists.
“It’s a part of everyday life,” Dadzie says of his interactions with Amar and his brand. “This isn’t backed by Coca-Cola or Pepsi. This takes everyone working together and that’s what Massiv is all about—working together and eating together.”
The We Are Massiv. Tour starts Thanksgiving eve and runs for three dates that long weekend featuring 12th Planet, AC Slater and Clicks & Whistles on each date with different surprise guests each night.
11/27 – Pomona, CA @ Glass House
12/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda
13/03 – San Diego, CA @ Voyeur