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Introducing: Gent Mason

Possessing the combined ability to produce downtempo bedroom grooves alongside your own vocal accompaniment is somewhat of a forbidden (and sought-after) fruit for emerging artists. A skill that London-hailing producer, Gent Mason, has certainly snatched, audibly translating distorted rhythms with swoons verging on cross-continental R&B. It’s only fitting then, that Aesop’s latest recruit further implements that concoction on debut EP, Eden.

We gave the producer-vocalist a call to chat about capturing creativity, being in the studio with Jimmy Douglas and cleaning up cat sick….

Planet Notion: Hey man, what’s going on?
Gent Mason: I’m alright, just working on music, cleaning up cat sick – the usual day.

PN: Yuck, so how did you get started as a producer/artist?
GM: Well, I have been doing it for a long time just not in the public eye. I have always been into technology and electronics. Not the taking stuff apart and nerdy stuff, more the sound of things, like speakers and how they sound. You know how it is these days, anyone can pick this kind of thing up, you can learn stuff from the internet and it is really accessible to get started. So quite a few years ago I got really good at logic and it came from there I guess.

PN: Did you have a particularly musical background or was it just from the interest in electronics that things developed?
GM: I have played in a few bad bands in the past, nothing of note but for fun and more fucking about. It wasn’t until I got into a more kind of production side of things that I really started to feel that drive to create something that might have a real impact.

PN: When did you decide to incorporate the vocal side?
GM: They always went together to be honest, I guess I am blessed that I can sing alright. If you are producing that is always nice to have, I wouldn’t really want to be in the position where I would have to rely on other people. Having both together really helps with my identity.

PN: You get a lot of production based music featuring the same cycle of vocalists these days. It’s nice to hear someone that is doing both…
GM: That’s it, I think sometimes, unless you are incredible, there is only so far you can go. You can’t do anything yourself, you are not sustainable within your own kind of unit. It is just as well because that is how I like to express myself, so it was always going to be part of it, it was just figuring out how it would all fit together.

PN: Are there certain elements or emotions that have to happen to get in the creative mindset?
GM: I can be quite pernickety about there being the right amount of light in the room and the right time of day. It is a trap you can get easily stuck in if you are a perfectionist but I do actually believe that it is really important. It is just creating the right kind of vibe. With the type of music that I am making, if I was to wake up at 9am and work a nine to five, I just wouldn’t feel inspired.

A key thing for me as well is working really quickly and that is one of the reasons in production you need to become really fluent with tools that you use and the idea with that is to try and catch that instant emotion and not get hung up on things. a lot of people fall into the trap of working on a track and after a week it sounds good but it’s not quite there yet and you keep working on it. The way you are working is fundamentally not going to help you because you probably shouldn’t have gone with that track past the first 10 minutes. If it doesn’t sound good then, I delete it and move onto the next thing. It is about trying to capture creativity in its raw initial state otherwise things start to sound very calculated, we get overindulgent and you can sense that in some kinds of music. That’s important to me, it keeps it fresh.

PN: You worked with Jimmy Douglas on the EP, right?
GM: I call him my mentor because I was fiddling around for a while and experimenting but when I went over to work with him, he taught me a lot about how I listen to music and what was important. He really helped take me to the next level and although he didn’t work on this directly, I would say that the music I am making is the eventual result of being in a studio with him and seeing how he worked, his philosophical approach to making music and how he and Timbaland approached everything way back. And I would quiz him about all that, like I want to know everything. So the approach that I take to making music is very much based on what Timbaland did and still does.

PN: I know we spoke about the vocal side and the luxury of doing both but would you consider lending your vocals to a different genre?
GM: Definitely, that is something I want to do as things progress. I’m really keen to produce some records for other people. I could see some rap stuff, R&B and I would love to do a whole record with that imprint if it was the right artist.

PN: The whole producer/rap crossover is thriving at the moment, and your sound could definitely work with that…
GM: I’d like to think so too, there are a few people out there that I could already imagine their rhymes on top of it and there are also some artists that haven’t even got going that might come through and it would be nice to link up with someone and help define their sound from the start. It would be a dream to work with Kanye, Drake, Rocky and whoever. I love all of those guys.

PN: What’s the next step?
GM: I’m actively working on a whole lot of music at the moment, so there will definitely be more music. As is the case with a lot of these things, I finished that EP quite a while before it came out so by the time it has come out, I am bit over it which is always a but frustrating. I would love for people to hear it just I am still feeling amazing about the record. I just can’t wait to put out what I am working on now.

And we look forward to hearing it!

- James Embiricos

Eden is out now on Aesop and you can grab it here.

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