This time, we get to know Darren Mason, a South London artist who enjoys mashing up genres and has diverse influences such as Prince, Giles Peterson, Lauren Hill and even Bjork. With soulful pop elements, a nod to jazz and blues, as well as modern rap, dream pop, and even metal, be sure to check him out!
The track "What You Looking At?" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.
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1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.
I'm from South London, Uk, it's where i was born and currently live... It is where I am writing this from. I say South London because it is the place identify with the most - the culture, the rawness and energy. I try to draw inspiration from the place. I'm currently at home working on the daily admin that is being a independent artist - Mainly thinking about next steps and actions... Tonight I was playing with photoshop trying ideas for my Album cover... in general finishing an album has been an everyday tough task and a huge undertaking - it makes you make decisions. Sometimes I just need time to experiment and think loads before signing off. I love it as it gives me purpose, focus and satisfaction when I can see things are moving forward.
2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?
My active mind and need to explore life brought me to music. I always used to sang lots of silly tunes when I was young(er) - making up tunes with my friend Danny. When 11 I started playing the Tuba (I was a tall young man). I enjoyed the process and playing with others - my ompahing lead me to a life of band and orchestra playing. Classical was my thing, with occasional karaoke and backing singing with my first band 'purple platypus'. I was happy to follow the dots until I got a bit more contemporary by DJ'ing, then producing, then singing, then songwriting, then performing. I made music to filling in the time between and express my inner-self.
𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?
So many over the years and try and take influences from many - I Love Prince: Swagger and Quality in all areas, Radiohead for the genre mix ups, MJ for uniqueness, Early Bjork inspired me, jungle music for its rawness, jazz music, rap records for the experimental music diversity, Giles Peterson, Lauren Hill for her self belief... so many more - I believe that you can take influence from many and admire anybody who bears their soul and creativity.... My music is a mash-up of genres and styles. I think about these artists when creating and performing.
4. What are your goals in the music industry?
I want to do my best, play some great shows and meet and work with talented people.
I love performing and would love to perform on bigger stages - who doesn't? I get such a buzz from performing and can think of anything that feels better.
Making music is the dream, the industry is there to help extend the dream by building audiences and enabling us to pay rent.
5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.
It usually starts on the piano. Starts with the chords and noodle until I create a vibe. I try to feel the mood and start writing in my notebook. I then get the sequence onto Logic and try to play about until i am ready to add the words and melody. I then share these ideas with a producer i work with (Kaey) who starts to improve the sound he is great with the science and add further musical ideas and suggestions. Sometime I freestyle bits when recording which can develop the songs further. I feel that this is the time to release some shackles and release that inner raw feeling. I never want my tracks to be too conventional.
6. What is your all-time favorite song?
how dare you... such a hard question and would be rude to choose one. Some mentions are deserved: Man in the Mirror by MJ, Unfinished Symphony by Massive Attack, Alright by Kendrick Lemar, anything frrom 36 chambers by wu-tang, weak become heroes by the streets, so many tunes...
7. What is the best advice you have either given or received in terms of music?
I have worked at a music teacher for the last 20 years - primary, high school and higher education - I try to tell my students and myself to enjoy the journey - the destination is just an aim but the journey is daily life...
8. Proudest accomplishment?
The last 2 years have been wonderful - putting out my own tunes and experiencing the hustle of the music industry has made me feel proud. Sharing the experience with a few thousand has a positive effect on my life. I was nominated for Best Male Artist 2022 from Radio Wigwam. I didn't win but it gave me an opportunity to reflect on these achievements and to be recognised by strangers who have a passion for music #stoppayola has really made my family and friends proud. Everyone who attempts to live their dreams should be proud.
9. Just for fun! What's been your most embarrassing moment so far?
A few gigs I try to block from my mind... Guitars tuned wrong, forgetting words and falling over are all part of the life. I love looking back at these moments - they fill me with the joy and i'm sure I will have many embarrassments in the future.
𝟭0. Tell us about your lowest and highest points in music so far.
My lowest point in music was when i split with my band about 10 years ago. I put so much energy into that project and made many close relationships but at the same time it was emotional. When we split it took me a long time to process how I was feeling and what to do in my musical life. Music after took a back seat in my life and felt opportunities had passed. However today I am at my most positive place - probably in my whole life. Making and releasing music over the last 2 years has given me confidence in my abilities as a songwriter and music. It has helped give experiences which make me a better teacher too. I want to make my kids proud and want them to know that they can live their dreams. I feel like i'm doing that now.
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