'The Next Big Thing.' It's a moniker that's made for Nashville as this city is crawling with artists but every once in a while, we hear something that makes up stop what we're doing, start the track over and then listen to it on repeat . . . all day long. That artist is Daniella Mason.
Daniella Mason's world was rocked earlier this year when Demi Lovato caused a social media storm tweeting about Mason's single "All I Want." After being asked to perform with the superstar on her just ended Neon Lights Tour, Mason is prepping a new album and is kicking is all off this Wednesday night with an early show at the High Watt. O&AN chatted Mason to talk about what fans, new and old, can expect from the show, the craziness of Demi Lovato tweeting about her song and why Nashville is home.
I grew up as a military brat so as the child of traveling missionaries, Iʼm sure you moved around a lot? In what ways has the helped and/or hurt your music?
Yeah, I was kind of all over the map, literally, for several years of my life. I think itʼs helped my music in a gigantic way though, and Iʼm really thankful for the way I grew up. It instilled in me this giant view of the world and my perspective is very different- very wide and very compassionate. My worldview allows my music to encompass a lot and hopefully pull people in from all walks of life and all corners of the earth.
Why is Nashville home?
I absolutely love it here. I love the creativity and the camaraderie and the support that this city offers. It is unlike anywhere else in the world. I definitely felt like an outsider throughout most of my life before moving here. Itʼs like all of the weird, lovely, artsy people just found each other.
I hear some soul influences in your phrasing, who influences you as a performer? As a songwriter?
Oh yeah, thereʼs definitely some soul there. Aside from loving a lot of the early ladies of soul, Iʼve been through some tough things in my life and I feel like thatʼs where a lot of that comes from. One of my main influences is Billie Holiday and she just went through it in her life and you can hear all of that in her voice. Itʼs so emotional for me to listen to her.
Do you think pop music get a bad rep sometimes? Is it that people have a hard time discerning whatʼs popular from the elements of pop music?
I definitely think that. And maybe thatʼs part of it, but I think the main thing is that these days people are really craving authenticity and a lot of times “pop” music doesnʼt offer that. But, I’m very hopeful about how inclusive the genre is becoming and where itʼs heading. There are a lot of gorgeous, authentic artists on top 40 right now. Itʼs really encouraging, and itʼs an exciting space for me to enter into.
Describe your brand of music, “intelli-pop.”
(laughs) Well, I guess for me and for my two guys, Chris and Chase, we just really like to push the limits of what we can get away with musically within the pop space. So I guess because we all play instruments and we all write music and we all enjoy growing and learning and moving forward in music, it seems like weʼre seeking a growing intelligence within the pop framework.
Your band is quite literally your family, as your husband Chris Young (not the country singer) and friend and producer Chase Foster, round out the three-piece band. You talked about how these two people have brought so much out of you- can you elaborate?
You are quite right! They have really given me the courage to do what Iʼve always wanted to do. And because Iʼve known them and worked with them for so long- my husband for 6 years and Chase for 5 years- they really know my voice better than anyone. I think it took a team like this to really dig in and find all these nuances that I had been hiding and some that I didnʼt even know existed. Iʼll come up with this crazy chord progression for a bridge that doesnʼt seem to fit based on the pop music that we’re used to and Chase will be like, “YES! YES YES YES!” In the past, I donʼt think I would have even brought the idea up.
2014 started out as a crazy year for you- did you even know at first that Demi Lovato had tweeted about your song?
No, I didnʼt know! I was in LA writing with some friends and all of a sudden my phone just started vibrating and wouldnʼt stop. It turns out Demi was the cause of all the madness! (laughs) I was so honored and thankful that she would like my music and that she would support it in such a public way! It was a big moment.
Technology has really propelled the music industry into very innovative arenas, do you think it is harder or easier for an independent artist to harness that power?
Oh, so much easier. We now have the power to reach anyone and everyone and that wasn’t the case even 15 years ago. Before, you had to have the “machine” behind you to get any traction. Now, if people like you, they can tell the world. And with social media and technology, it really is possible. Itʼs a great time to be an independent artist.
How many dates have you played with Demi so far?
Well because everything happened so fast and she found out about me after her whole US run was planned and booked, we were only able to hop on one show in Pennsylvania because Fifth Harmony couldn’t do the show. It was crazy that I was asked to join the tour 2 weeks before it started, and itʼs hard to get all that worked out so quickly. Especially when she had such a full show already! But we’re talking about future dates with her right now because it turned out to be such a great fit.
Has the experience just been crazily surreal?
To say the least. That crowd was so unbelievably warm and accepting. I think I cried the whole time. I’m not even really sure how I sang!
What about the other acts on the tour? Cher Lloyd, Little Mix and Fifth Harmony— there are a lot of strong young women on that tour—do you find inspiration there?
Oh my gosh, yes! They are such brave, talented, and strong women. I was raised to believe that I could do anything I wanted to do, and the idea that I was a woman was never considered a hindrance. My mother, who has now passed away, was the strongest person I have ever met and will ever meet, and I want women to know that they can be that! They have power inside of them. I feel a strong calling to encourage and liberate women, and being in the midst of all these female powerhouses who are doing exactly what they want to do and killing it, man itʼs just really epic and awesome.
Thinking about 2012's Throw Me ʻRound the World, is there a vast difference in the music you are working on now?
Yeah, Iʼm definitely going in a new direction, musically. There were glimpses of what Iʼm working on now on [that album] like “Sleep” or “Where Are You,” but I’m going in a much more electronic direction with crazy vibes that make you want to do crazy things!
What can fans (new and old) expect at the High Watt show?
For the Nashville show weʼre bringing in an awesomely talented friend of ours to play drums. He is totally on the same page and will be a fantastic addition to the show and will bring another level of energy for our lovely hometown audience. Nashville is gonna get a big dose of some killer vibes and weird pop.
Whatʼs next for you?
I think weʼre going to be releasing the next single soon in preparation for the album release. And weʼre also working on a music video for it that Iʼm crazy excited about. All of my incredibly talented friends are working together to make it happen and that is just the epitome of Nashville to me: working together to make good things. Oh, and weʼre also working on figuring out where and with whom we want to tour with, so yeah a lot is coming up! Itʼs about to get crazy busy, which is frightening to think about because my life already is crazy busy. But itʼs going to be good and I have just the best feeling about this year and where Iʼm headed.