An Interview With Newcomer Singer-Songwriter MASON ASHLEY!
Posted On 08 Mar 2017
“Music has always been a part of me. I’ve been writing songs since I was nine years old and decided to learn guitar after attempting to teach myself chords on my grandpa’s old Conn until I couldn’t feel my fingers. I got my first guitar for my 10th birthday and the rest is history.”
Mason began to pour her heart, her pre-teen and then teen hurts, desires, wishes, angers into journals. She filled journal after journal with lyrics and melodies. She, her guitar, her pencil, and her journals could be found strewn across her bedroom floor most hours of the day. The pencil, paper, guitar, and her own voice gave her a venue to express herself and move on.
“Music is therapy for me. Sometimes songs come to me that I don’t even know where they came from and sometimes they come from built up emotion that I was never able to put into words until the pen and paper somehow allow it.”
Growing up in the comfortable town of Magnolia, Texas, Mason has spent her teenage years like other teenage girls have for generations, but with a slight twist. She took all of those teenage experiences with boys and friendships and lost and gained relationships and put them to music. The result; songs that anyone of any age who has ever felt love, loss, frustration, joy, romance can relate to.
“The past three years have been filled with laughter and pain and heartache and love and growing up. I learned so much about myself and about the world. I’ve learned about relationships and about people in these past three beautiful, painful, and inspiring years and I poured every ounce of those emotions into this little album. It is absolutely terrifying and so exciting to let those emotions go out into the ears of others, but hopefully it will let those who listen know that they are not alone. I’m so thrilled to get to share my fears, heartbreaks, and stories with anyone that will let me.”
Mason’s family has been a huge influence in her life. With her mom, dad, and a brother who is just a couple years younger, she has experienced much of the United States from the backseat of a car. Her family travels as often as they can. Mason’s travels have given her a glimpse of people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and she draws inspiration from these people and places.
“I’ve been all over the country in the back seat of my parents’ car with a cup of Starbucks and some kind of instrument. I love seeing new places and meeting new people from all different towns and situations. Oceans and people fascinate me. I could sit in a cafe with a cup of coffee and just watch people all day long or play ukulele on the beach forever and be perfectly content.”
Mason is often found surrounded by extended family, all with instruments in hand, wrapped in a big comfy quilt on a porch in the starlight singing, laughing, playing. Simplicity, faith, and family are of upmost importance to her. “I’ve always felt like I was born in the wrong era. I’m like… 92% sure that I’m actually supposed to be living in the 50′s.”
All the relationships, travels, family, faith, laughter, loss, and love that Mason Ashley has experienced in the past sixteen years are encompassed in this album that speaks to the heart and soul. Life in the small town of Magnolia has drifted into a sea of melodies and lyrics that tell her personal story and the story of many at the same time.
Learn more about Mason Ashley in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? What were some of the highlights? What are you most excited about for 2017?
2016 was so exciting. I recorded my second EP. I got to sing a Christmas song for my favorite childhood magazine, J-14. I became a puppy mom(!!!) I traveled a lot. And I turned 18. This year I turn 19 and I’m not very excited about it… I feel like I’m getting old and I don’t like it. But I am excited about releasing “Strangers” in 2017 and I have some very exciting new videos and content coming soon that I can’t wait for everyone to see! I’m hoping to travel a lot because traveling is my second favorite thing to music. And I will also graduate cosmetology school this year and get my license to do hair. I’m really looking forward to 2017 and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today?
I have always wanted to be a musician. I started playing and writing when I was 9 years old and I haven’t lost the passion since then. This may sound weird…but there are so many times when I feel so blessed that music is my passion. I feel like if I weren’t a songwriter I would wish I was. I’ll never forget the first song I ever wrote.. I was 7. It was about being late for school and missing the bus. I was home-schooled.
How has living in Texas influenced your music and your drive to be a musician? Do you plan on staying there or would you like to move? Would you like to attend college eventually?
Texas is a great live music state. We have Austin, Houston and Dallas, which are all pretty musical cities. I live in a small town north of Houston called Magnolia. Surprisingly, there are some AWESOME live music venues near me. One of my favorites is a listening room called Dosey Doe…it’s an old barn that was converted into a concert venue. I used to go there every Tuesday night and watch whoever was performing that night. I would sit there as a 13 year old and be completely awestruck by these stranger’s lyrics or guitar runs or vocal melodies and I would think of how much I’d love to be on that stage. I would sometimes be so inspired that I’d go to the bathroom and write lyrics on a napkin. It was a huge inspirational time in my life and I think it shaped my writing today. I always say that my dream life would be traveling the world full time and playing shows in listening rooms everywhere I go.
You just released your single, “Paper Planes.” Can you talk about the inspiration for this track? How different or similar is it other songs of your EP, “Strangers”?
“Paper Planes” is a very metaphorical song. It’s a story painted with visual representations of real life events. It came from a relationship I had when I was about sixteen with an older boy that was also a musician…(and you know how those musicians can be.) I wrote it when we first met before we even started dating. I knew that the relationship would be messy but I also knew that I had to see where it went and the song came from that place of confusion and excitement. “Paper Planes”is very personal but it’s not very literal. Most of the songs on “Strangers” are stories. They’re like letters to the people I wrote them about, so they use details of real life situations mixed with metaphors. I wanted to be completely honest on this record and the songs came from very real emotions and experiences.
How creatively involved were you with the making of the video for “Paper Planes”? Do you look forward to making another music video soon?
The video for Paper Planes was a very creative process. We wanted to capture raw emotion in the video to match the emotion in the song. We started filming with the camera crew following me around this beautiful, near-crumbling, old building and filming while I explored. It was honestly kind of emotional for me. The metaphor of a fragile and broken relationship really came to life in the building and I really connected to it. We wanted the video to portray the messy, painful, wonderful kind of love that I wrote about, but in a way that was subtle. The building was the perfect fit. I absolutely loved filming the video and I actually just finished filming two more music videos that I’m VERY excited about… so keep an eye out for those.
How long did it take to put together “Strangers”? Did anything surprise about the recording process? What was the most challenging part about it all for you? What was the easiest part?
We started pre-production for “Strangers in November of 2015, but I only had two songs written for the project. It took a little over a year to finish. Instead of waiting for all the songs to be finished and then recording them, we recorded the songs as they came. So all the pressure was on me to get the songs done and then get in the studio. I’m not good at writing on command so I really had to push myself and it was tough…but surprisingly, I really think that it made me better. I wrote most of the songs late at night (I’m a night person) and then sent a terrible phone recording of it to my producer and we would start producing the song a day or two later. It was a blast. I got to watch my songs come to life and there is no better feeling than finishing a record and knowing that you poured your heart and soul into it.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? What musicians would you love to work with in the future?
My favorite band of all time is The 1975. If I could collaborate with the lead singer, Matt Healy, my life would be complete. I also love Ingrid Michaelson, OneRepublic, and I think that Bob Dylan is the best songwriter of all time.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
My songs are very personal and specific to me.. but nothing in the world makes me happier than when I get a message from someone that felt a connection to my music, or a stranger comes up to me after a show telling me what one of my songs meant to them. One of the best things in the world is hearing a song in my car that gives me that warm feeling that only music can.. the kind of song that makes me feel like the lyrics are more than just lyrics, they’re a memory. Or a friend. Or a feeling of understanding. I want my music to be that feeling for at least one person out there. Because I believe that driving home alone, singing your lungs out to a song that makes you feel something, can help with any situation. Music is powerful.