Most teens cannot wait to have the freedom of driving, especially in LA where the Metro is less than reliable on any given day. That wasn’t the case for Mason Summit a few years ago. While he knew a licence was on the horizon, he was too busy focusing on finishing up his debut record, Absentee. That time, along with the music appreciation his late father, Mad Men’s Christopher Allport, left with him, allowed Mason to really focus on what he set out to do.
Music has been in this 18-year-old’s bones for years and he now has a pair of records under his belt. With a sound that mirrors the likes of Buddy Holly rather than a mainstream pop star, Mason is aware of who he is and stands proud on his musical merit. The boy who started out is now a man who works best alone. Noting that solitude is where he does his best work, even though he lives in Santa Monica and could use the beach as his creative muse, inside is where most of his best work comes out. Although he regrets not getting out on the sand more, we’re glad to hear the great things coming from this rising star. Now learn more about Mason like musical friends he hopes to have and what he does with a paint brush.
Kendra: You took a couple of years after Absentee to make last year’s Loud Music & Soft Drinks. Usually we talk about growing as artists, but you weren’t only doing that – but maturing as a person. How did that play a part in how you tackled making your sophomore release?
Mason: I could have finished Loud Music & Soft Drinks far sooner had I not been balancing recording with my junior year. I had to find time to record on spring and summer breaks and occasional weekends. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I really wrote the record as I was recording it, and it turned into a chronicle of my sophomore and junior years in high school.
Kendra: During that time, you were still dealing with a huge loss. What advice from your dad do you carry with you every day still?
Mason: I think the inspiration I get from my dad is less direct than advice. He set the example of writing and performing for me, by taking nine-year-old me to open mic nights where he would accompany me on Johnny Cash songs and then play his originals. He also bought me a RadioShack tape recorder, which was my introduction to the joy of recording. I also play a few of my dad’s acoustic guitars on all of my records.
Kendra: With what appears to be an old soul, often being compared to the likes of Costello and Holly – do you listen to current music, or are you the kind of teen who doesn’t get their peers’ taste?
Mason: I think there’s a lot of good current music around, just maybe not on Top 40 radio. This year especially, I’ve listened mainly to Wilco, the Pernice Brothers, Blake Mills, the Milk Carton Kids and Jon Brion, all of whom are still active. Of course, I am drawn to the past, and some of my formative influences — Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Elliott Smith, etc. are long gone, unfortunately. Luckily, most of my peers, or at least my friends, share many of my music tastes.
Kendra: Back to Loud Music & Soft Drinks. A couple of tracks stood out. The first being “Two Friends.” If you could be friends with any two musicians, who would they be and why?
Mason: Jon Brion, because I would love to soak up his knowledge of production and recording, borrow some of his gear, and find out where he buys his socks. Also Jeff Tweedy of Wilco seems really cool and down-to-earth, but I wouldn’t have to be his friend. Just a hug would suffice.
Kendra: Another was “My Blank Canvas.” If one of those were put in front of you, what would you paint?
Mason: I actually went through a painting phase last year! Initially, my goal was to parody overpriced modern art, but I found the process calming and painted regularly for a bit. I mostly painted impressionistic landscapes in acrylic on wood panel.
Kendra: Who is an up and coming artist you’ve recently came across that you want to give a little shout out to and why?
Mason: Too many to name! My friend Sofia Wolfson writes great songs, and she’s putting together her first album right now. I play and sing on it a little bit. Another talented friend of mine, Charlie Hickey, already has an EP out and is working on a follow-up. I recommend checking both of them out.