Yesterday marked the release of singer/songwriter Mason Jennings‘ 11th album. Typically a fan of self-recording, Jennings decided to step outside of his comfort zone on this album, entitled Always Been, and enlist producer Bo Ramsey (Greg Brown, The Pines, Iris DeMent) to help craft his sound. He also called in an impressive lineup of guest musicians, including Iris DeMent, Chad Cromwell (Neil Young’s drummer), and members of The Pines. The result is a beautiful album that’s sure to make you a fan…if you weren’t one already.
I was lucky enough to talk with Jennings about the new album, touring, his shoe size (yes, really) and more. Read the interview below…
Jessica Reed: You’re back with your 11th album. How does it feel to have so many records under your belt and what makes ‘Always Been’ different?
Mason Jennings: It feels great. I love making albums. Always Been is different because I’m hopefully growing as a human, and as a songwriter and singer. Working with producer Bo Ramsey sets it apart too. He really brings out great vocal performances, I think.
JR: You brought in many great musicians and friends to help you make this album. Did their involvement allow you to create the album you envisioned or did their input take it in a new direction?
MJ: I sort of had a sound in mind but all the players added more than I could imagine. That’s the beauty of collaboration.
JR: What’s your favorite part of the recording process?
MJ: I like having a song in my head that’s never been heard and then going into a studio and recording it and hearing it exist in the world. It’s a magical part. Filled with wonder.
JR: Your songwriting for this album was inspired by books, movies, and music. Any standouts? Anything new that’s inspired you recently?
MJ: Louise Erdrich’s book The Master Butcher’s Singing Club was really inspiring. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine. Bach. Fats Domino. I love the new Vampire Weekend record. The latest Regina Spektor. The latest by The Pines.
JR: Austin City Limits Festival recently wrapped up here in Austin. You played the festival several years ago. How was that experience and how did it compare to other festivals you’ve played?
MJ: I loved it. Probably my favorite festival.
JR: Do you prefer festival experiences or shows at more intimate venues?
MJ: I like both. I enjoy meeting other musicians and artists backstage at festivals. I love the more focused feeling of intimate shows though too.
JR: Any crazy stories from the road?
MJ: I’ve been touring for 13 years now. That’s crazy. Right?
JR: What’s the most inspiring interaction you’ve had with a fan?
MJ: Way too many to list. Every night I go out and sign CDs and T-shirts and almost everyone I talk to tells me a story that makes me want to make music.
JR: As you know, Mood Media designs music for brands all over the world. What types of establishments (stores, restaurants, bars etc) would you be excited to hear your music in?
MJ: Whole Foods, airports, bookstores….
JR: Anything your fans may not know about you?
MJ: I love pink. I love soccer and football. I wear size 15 shoes.
– Submitted by Jessica Reed, Social Media