Interview with Mason Jennings @ Elemental Experience
AC — So what made you decide to get involved with music?
Mason — Since I was young, I just always heard it. It was something I was forever interested in. It makes me feel just really, really amazing to listen to it, and to do it.
AC — You have six albums, and Boneclouds was your first album actually backed by a label. How was the transition from being an independent to being backed by a label? Was the process of recording any different, or did you keep it all the same?
Mason — Well, we had more money for recording. That was the biggest thing. So we got to spend a lot of time in the studio. Other than that, it wasn’t really different other than that. I could record a bunch of different ways and make mistakes and erase stuff … So same kind of process, just more time.
AC — Your new album In the Ever was recorded in a cabin?
Mason — It’s more like a house.
AC — How was it doing that, and how did inspiration come to you in that environment?
Mason — Well, recording Boneclouds took a lot of time in the studio and we worked really hard on editing things. It was kind of a bigger production. I really wanted to just get by myself and go somewhere secluded and just try remembering why I got into music in the first place. Which is just, kind of me hanging out with a recording machine and just writing songs. Writing something in the morning, recording and then being able to drive home listen to it on the stereo — and not messing with it after that — it was really fun. I did that record and I actually just finished a new record down at the same place. Hopefully it will be out in a couple of months.
AC — I heard you and Jack Johnson are pretty good friends? How has he helped you, and how is being friends with him? Is he a normal guy?
Mason — He’s a totally normal dude. He’s been rad! See, the cool thing about him is he’s just himself. And being around him, you’re just encouraged to be your own person. He’s a really good inspiration as far as somebody just staying true to what they love and not getting caught up in all the weird.
AC — Leading into that how do you feel about the current music state? Do you think its going uphill or downhill, with the innovation and things like that?
Mason — It’s hard to think of anything in like a group like that for me. There are certain songs that always move me. There’s always something coming off that’s exciting and moving, you just gotta kind of look for it in different places now. Before it would come on MTV, but now you have to look for it on the Internet. There are always artists making cool stuff.
AC — I hear you are with the Kokua Foundation. Can you explain and tell us what that is?
Mason — Yeah, that’s Jack and Kim’s organization in Hawaii that helps raise awareness for recycling and sustainability for … I forget the word for it … eating locally … it’s for Hawaii mostly. I was born in Hawaii and it’s really neat to think about all the farms there, and all the people. I have a bunch of cousins who have farms there off the grid and powered by wind power. Its rad man, its just like raising awareness to that stuff man.
AC — How can people get involved with that?
Mason — Just go to Kokua, you can go to my MySpace page and you can check it out there.
AC — What can your fans look forward to in the future?
Mason — This year I’ll hopefully release a new record this fall, or this summer. Its more electric — every song is electric — and its more rock and like a little bit new. It sounds new to me.
AC — Will it be like Dylan goes electric?
Mason — It’s a little more rockish than that. Its like uh… like Charlie Brown slipping into a pile of dogs, like Mike Tyson taking a shower. But then after that, this Fall I’m going to be on tour again, but then I’m probably going to be part of a documentary. We’re making some music for a documentary called 180 Degrees South. It’s a movie about the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard and some of his friends … and this park they are making in Patagaonia, Chile that they are just keeping totally natural. It’s amazing down there. I went down there last year and wrote a couple of songs for it. So those are just a couple of new things.
AC — What advice can you give for future musicians trying to get into the industry?
Mason — I would say, the first thing I would say is try to be yourself. Whatever, and usually when people make fun of you, is the part you end up liking about you in the end. If something’s weird, and people are like, “you sound weird, you don’t sound like other people.” … I say, “Stick with it.”
AC — Any last words you want to add?
Mason — Just thanks to everyone for listening to the music and I’m so happy I get to do it.
Armando Cordoba is a freelance contributor who currently attends San Diego State University.