My name is Dexter Francis Mason, I’m a 27-year-old singer, songwriter and producer. Born into a family of classical musicians, the path leading up to my debut album, I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, has been a long one. My introduction to pop music came later than for most and despite having created what is undoubtedly a pop album, I can’t help but retain an ambivalent relationship with the genre. After years of singing in New York City’s jazz clubs, I moved to Berlin to complete the songs that would eventually become the album.
With most of the writing, recording and production done at night, the music is defined as much by the process behind its creation, as it is by the songwriting itself. The album’s songs deal with interpersonal narratives and reflect on feelings of isolation, disillusionment and a sense of yearning. Memories, dreams and relationships serve as starting points before converging with a peculiar anecdote or banal observation. J1 is the first single, coming out on March 5, 2021. It’s a love song about wanting something from a person and knowing they can never give it to you.
1: Take yourself seriously
2: Don’t take yourself too seriously
3: The challenge lies in finding the balance
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
You know, it comes from a pretty basic need of wanting to do something with my time that feels worthwhile. I make music because it always teaches me something about myself in the process.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
My dad was an opera singer and my mom was a flutist in an orchestra. As a kid, I spent a lot of time at the theatre they worked at and by the time I was 6 year old, I was performing on stage myself. I don’t think it was something anyone had really planned, it just happened quite naturally.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
In no particular order:
The Melody At Night, With You – Keith Jarrett
The White Album – The Beatles
Live – Donny Hathaway
Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens
Fritz Wunderlich – Dichterliebe, Op. 48
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
A kind of cheerful randomness. You go somewhere, you meet people, then go somewhere else with the people you just met and then meet more people.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My apartment. It’s where I work on music and spend most of my time. (Regardless of global pandemics)
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I often ask myself this question. Maybe become a therapist?
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
I recently bought a project by Chris Weisman, but I have to admit that I don’t buy music nearly often enough.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Finding someone to collaborate with, in the truest sense, is rare and special. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to make music with some incredibly gifted people. But it’s nothing you can really plan or will into existence. It just has to come about organically.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
While I was living in New York City, any time I got to sing with Johnny O’Neal was very memorable.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
It’s crucial! Being able to capture ideas as they come to you without needing to rely on anyone else is everything. I got into recording and producing my own music because I realized that music is never going to sound the same if someone else does it for you.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
As my parents love to point out: I’m an only child.
Photo © Lukas Städler