Writing well beyond her years, Mason Ashley puts pen to paper to masterfully craft lyrics that tell a timeless story, designs a melody that captures raw emotion, and then sings with an enchanting voice that lulls the listener to another time and place. At just sixteen years old, she is at the start of a blossoming career with a maturity of sound and emotion well beyond her years.
Mason began to pour her heart, her pre-teen and then teen hurts, desires, wishes, angers into journals. She filled journal after journal with lyrics and melodies. She, her guitar, her pencil, and her journals could be found strewn across her bedroom floor most hours of the day. The pencil, paper, guitar, and her own voice gave her a venue to express herself and move on.
Growing up in the comfortable town of Magnolia, Texas, Mason has spent her teenage years like other teenage girls have for generations, but with a slight twist. She took all of those teenage experiences with boys and friendships and lost and gained relationships and put them to music. The result; songs that anyone of any age who has ever felt love, loss, frustration, joy, romance can relate to.
This five song album is her first to be released and is titled after her song, “Into the Song.” Mason will be the first to tell you that this album was inspired by five different guys who have come into and out of and sometimes back into and back out of her life over the last several years. She’s quite certain they know who they are, though she will never name names. However, Mason did agree to share a few other things about herself with Nashville Music Guide.
Lucky 13 with Mason Ashley
NMG: What was the first song you ever performed?
Mason Ashley: I wrote a song when I was twelve years old called “Shine.” It was inspired by my fascination with the stars and with nighttime, which is something that has always inspired me. I performed it at a student songwriter camp showcase to a packed audience in one of my favorite venues and it was a moment that I will never forget.
NMG: Did you come from a musical background?
Mason Ashley: I grew up with music surrounding me. We listened to it all the time in our house and played and sang along. My parents are the worship leaders at my grandpa’s church and I have grown up singing there. Almost my whole family plays at least one musical instrument and/or sings (which often results in family-band jam sessions).
NMG: What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
Mason Ashley: The main advice I would give to an aspiring artist would be: just be honest. I spent my early writing years trying to disguise my emotions and stories in metaphors and insincere lyrics because I was afraid of someone hearing and judging me for feeling a certain way about something or someone. Since then, I have learned that the beauty in songwriting and performing is that you get to help others realize that they are not alone. Music is so powerful and connects people in ways that are incomprehensible and the only way to create that connection is by being honest with yourself and through your lyrics. I’d rather be brutally honest than be afraid.
NMG: What are 3 things that you have to have with you at all times/never leave home without?
Mason Ashley: My songwriting journal (Even though it takes up a lot of room in my purse – I find that my best songs come from being written on paper not on some overrated piece of technology.. That’s way too mainstream.) 2. Bracelets. I always wear bracelets on my arm and I feel naked without them. 3. My scratched aviator sunglasses. I have no idea where they came from… I found them in my room one day and I think they might have been my mom’s, but I claimed them and even with the scratches and mysterious history, they are still my favorite sunglasses.
NMG: As a child growing up, music surrounds us; What type of music did you hear the most back then? How does it differ from what you listen to now?
Mason Ashley: I have always loved Country music. I remember my summers starting in about middle school always being filled with Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift and the Dixie Chicks… And of course, I went through my boy band stage and swore I was going to marry the Jonas Brothers… all three of them. Instead of listening to the typical kid songs and nursery rhymes, I grew up watching the VH1 countdown every Saturday morning and acting out my favorite music videos. I still love country music and the VH1 countdown (and I still have the occasional Jonas Brothers jam session in my car) but I have expanded my musical tastes throughout the years and now I listen to a lot of Folk/Indie/Americana music. I love bands like The Civil Wars, The Head and the Heart, Kacey Musgraves and Bob Dylan.
NMG: What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Mason Ashley: I started playing guitar after teaching myself on my grandpa’s 50 year old Conn and the songwriting came with the guitar playing. I was a shy nine year old that found a way to say everything I ever wanted to in lyrics and a melody and it has been my passion ever since. I still get the same excited feeling every time I finish writing, recording, or performing one of my songs and I know that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.
NMG: If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?
Mason Ashley: Stories with melodies.
NMG: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Mason Ashley: I write a lot about people and relationships. I am so fascinated by the different emotions involved in love and heartbreaks and friendships. I love to explore every aspect of what I’m feeling when a relationship begins, ends, or is lost somewhere in between. I feel like sad and happy are overused words when it comes to love. People act like you can either be happy or sad… like it’s all black and white. But I am always intrigued by the gray areas. You can feel happy, sad, confused, angry, in love, and alone all at once and that mix of emotions that everyone feels at some point in their life is something so interesting for me to write about.
NMG: What do you feel distinguishes “an artist” from just a musician?
Mason Ashley: An artist is someone that can use what they know and create something entirely their own through music. An artist develops their own style, their own creative process, and the ability to find inspiration in the world around them and put it to their own words or chords. A musician is someone with a great ear for music, and passion for playing music, but an artist CREATES music.
NMG: Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?
Mason Ashley: I love to travel. Growing up, I have been blessed to get to see so many beautiful places with my wonderful family and I find so much inspiration in visiting new places and meeting new people. I have been to about 35 of the 50 American states and I have fallen in love with every single one I’ve seen so far. I’ve also visited Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico, Belize, and the Cayman Islands. I want to see it all.
NMG: How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from the music?
Mason Ashley: The most relaxing thing to me is to snuggle up with a blanket, a good cup of coffee, and read a book or watch The Office. The Office is definitely my favorite TV show and guilty pleasure
NMG: Someone once said write what you would want to perform over and over. With that in mind, what song do you love to perform the most?
Mason Ashley: My favorite song to perform is the fourth track on “Into the Song”, titled “Sometimes Romance.” It is the most fun song to play live and it’s also my dancing-around-like-a-dork-song (because everyone needs one of those).
NMG: As an artists, how would you define SUCCESS?
Mason Ashley: Success is such a tricky word. Most people tie success to money and think that the only successful people are rich people. To me, success is fulfilling your passions, goals, and desires. It is when you can look back and remember when you had a dream and then be able to tell the story of the moment that dream came true. Success is remembering where you came from and the satisfaction of knowing that your hard work paid off.
Watch Mason Ashley’s “Paper Planes”
Without music, I would be … just an almost seventeen year old Texan girl, working as a waitress at a cafe, about to start my senior year of high school, with a whole lot of unspoken words trying to find their way out of me.
Music is … one of the most powerful and inspiring things life has to offer.
My music makes me feel … free. When I finish a song, I have this weight lifted off of me… Like I’ve finally said what I need to say and now I can let it go and move on.
I write the songs because … it is my way to tell my story. It is so cool to listen to a song from a few years ago and remember exactly how I was feeling and what I was going through when that song was written. I’ve gotten to experience growing up by documenting my memories through my music and it is amazing to get to remember my life by listening to my own stories.
Support music because … artists pour their hearts and souls into what they do and they want you to listen and connect with them through their stories.