Willy Mason: The Real Deal
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t with tourism, the more we allow, the more we adapt to it and we stop being self-sufficient. That's when we have problems.
Bill: When did you leave the island?
Willy: I left when I graduated high school which would be about 2 years ago now. I have been back a few times since... Basically, half that time, I was living out of a backpack and since then, I have been living out of a van.
Bill: Were you solely in New York?
Willy: I started out mostly in New York and then I started traveling after that. I would try and go back between New York and home for a while.
Bill: Is this something your family was supportive of?
Willy: For the most part--I mean, they were a little bit concerned and doubtful. It would have been a lot easier for them to know I was waking up in a dorm room every day or something like that. It wasn't totally comfortable for them but they tend to respect my judgment when I really go for something so, in the end, they kinda said "you gotta do whatcha gotta do."
Bill: So your brother Sam played on the album. Where does he fit in and how does the music process work?
Willy: Well he plays with me when he's on vacation and shit like that. And otherwise--he councils me. He keeps me looking at things from a down to earth perspective. He helps with art too. He's an artist. So the album was pretty laid back and we co-produced it--much of a collaboration. Meanwhile, he's a really good producer and engineer. So I think in the future he may take a more active role.
Bill: So you recorded in the town of Catskill and during the sessions, you made a rule: three takes and that's it. So I can only imagine you are going for that raw, live feel. Tell us about that a bit.
Willy: Well, I just want to keep myself honest. I'm trying to keep it as direct as possible and show people like where I'm at as honestly as possible because things have been happening so quickly for me like, all of a sudden I was playing gigs for people I didn't know and shit like that and it was like, blowing my mind. It was just like, all of a sudden someone heard me on the island's radio station--my friends dad put me on it. Next thing I know, I'm playing New York at the Mercury lounge and shit. Part of that was, well, people are digging this. I don't feel ready to be showing myself off to people or that I've figured out anything, particularly. I'm still trying to figure things out. But I guess if they're curious, I might as well show them where I'm at now. And just show them everything and not try to hold back and not try to change myself to be more suited. So like, if I keep the takes limited, it keeps me from thinking too hard about that stuff--and like, keeping it straightforward.
Bill: So you're the primary writer of the songs. You say, you work with your brother, he does some producing and engineering and obviously the drums on the album, but when it comes to writing the actual music, is that you? And the lyrics?
Bill: So now, the lyrics--it seems that everyone keeps talking about the song "Oxygen." You sing "I wanna speak louder than Ritalin for all the children that think they've got a disea
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