Whether through sculpture or song, Mason is passionately driven to tell stories that enrich the knowledge and culture of the world around her. One of her most ambitious pieces is a documentary film that doubles as a rock opera and video art piece about two men named Hamilton Fish, one a serial killer and the other a statesman, that died on the same day in January 1936.
Mason will be performing music from her film, The Lives of Hamilton Fish, at Trans Pecos, 915 Wyckoff Ave., on July 23 at 9 p.m. Mason is also the voice of Little Band of Sailors, a dirgy rock band with a driving, soulful sound.
You definitely have a very strong art draw. What comes first for you—art or music?
I was always making drawings and art, and at an early age I was writing songs and playing music. We had this piano in my house and I always used to play with it. I think I was twelve when I wrote my first song. I played it at summer camp and a couple of weeks later this girl came up to me and she was singing the words to this song I’d written and that was really something.
But as all things in our society, you kind of have to chooses something. Not that art is any easier of a path than music, but I took that road and went to art school. So art is primarily what I’m known for and where I get my support. I focus a lot on the art world, and I write sometimes for the Huffington Post about art-related things. I would also say that it’s my goal to be someone like Laurie Anderson or Yoko Ono, a person who has feet planted in both worlds.
Outside of Hamilton Fish, have you created any other cross-genre music and art projects?
I sculpted little political figurines and I wrote songs as if I was in their state of mind. It took me about seven years to sculpt all of the political figures that were involved in wars that were in my lifetime. I actually had a few collaborators that I asked to write songs for me, so I have other people who wrote lyrics as well. I wrote letters to Noriega for this project and he wrote me back. I actually have correspondence with Noriega.
In your band Little Band of Sailors there is a very psychedelic sort of sound, and in the Hamilton Fish film, there are several acoustic ballads. What sort of music are you attracted to creating the most?
I often feel like I don’t know what scene we’re a part of in Little Band of Sailors. I feel like we play a lot of shows in the experimental rock and noise scene, and maybe that’s because I have a lot of friends in that world and I really like the bands that I hear, but I don’t feel like we’re really doing that. There’s also the folk and folk rock world. As much as I love a lot of bands and have been associated with that scene, I don’t feel like I fit into this world either. I feel like I am in the tradition of songwriting. I really care intensely about the actual songs.
Who is your biggest influence?
One of my biggest influences in general was David Bowie, just because of the different things that he did, being a musician and an actor, making a character and telling a story, all these fantastical weird stories that he told and some of them were based on reality. I’d also really like to be like Kate Bush or something. She is really fun to watch on stage.
You are an extremely animated performer. What drives that?
I definitely feel like I become a different person on stage. It’s really strange. I find that in a funny way, I become the most totally free. It could be that I actually am most myself when I am onstage, but I won’t ever actually let myself be that person in normal life. All the weight of communicating with people, things in the real world are so…I am a character. With music I get so fully wrapped up inside of music, I almost get raptured by the thing and allow it to transport me.
I see this a lot where there’s a brutal approach to playing in bands. Not all the time, but I feel there’s not much happening on stage. That’s okay, it’s a thing, but I just feel like when I get on stage, maybe I want to give a lot to the audience. I feel like, this is a pretty big honor to be here on stage. I don’t take it for granted.