Daniella Mason’s Childhood Was a Technicolour Humanitarian Dream
Daniella Mason is a singer and song-writer from Nashville, Tennessee, but a mix between her colorful and crazy childhood and vivid visions for her future are what inspired her newest EP, “Technicolour.”
Aside from her own music, she has also co-written several songs with Nick Jonas on his albums, and she has even opened for Demi Lovato on tour.
She stopped by our NYC office to talk about the new EP and what we can expect from her burgeoning career in the future.
You grew up with parents who were traveling missionaries? What was that like?
So basically when I was eight, we became the little missionary, traveling family. It was very quirky, I spent my life in the back of a mobile-home conversion-van. It was either there, or in a jungle so I had a very eclectic childhood. Every once in awhile, I’ll bring up a memory to a friend or even my husband, and they’ll just look at me like, what? How is that even a memory that you have? So, I am very thankful for my upbringing. We traveled a ton, I got to see a lot of the world and it really challenged my world view even at an early age so I feel like that’s the kind of artist I am, and those are the kinds of songs that I write.
Where have you travelled?
So we started out in Mexico, in Chiapas, which is a mountainous region, which was beautiful, and we were in huts with basically the descendants of the Mayans. They live the same way they lived 2,000 years ago. So there were women sweeping their dirt floors, that is the status and they wore the beautiful colored and hand-woven clothing. Then we moved into a different region of Mexico and into the jungle called the Veracruz Jungle, and then after we moved more into Central and South America.
Then as I got older, we started doing a lot of stuff in Africa and a little bit in Europe, so we teamed up with different organizations that needed help. My dad would send in a team of doctors or a team of construction workers to build an orphanage or whatever they needed. We were sort of the gap-fillers. What was needed, we brought it. It was very crazy though. I think the craziest thing we did was disaster relief after the earthquake in Haiti, that was insane. It was life-changing. That’s actually when I decided I wanted to be a musician.
When did you start getting into music and song-writing like as a career?
So I had been singing my entire life and writing since I was 13, I’ve been releasing music and touring and writing since I was 15, so about 12 years. But I went to Haiti after the earthquake, and I felt very inadequate, I guess? There was all this devastation and I wasn’t a doctor, I wasn’t some rich humanitarian that could care-flight everyone out and so I was asking myself what I was doing there, and how I could help.
The woman who was running the orphanage wanted me to sing for the children and get them together and sing with them some songs. I saw their faces really change, and I realized that maybe I can’t heal their bodies, but I can help out with their hearts and I realized the healing power of music with the transcendence of it. I feel like everyone says that, but it is so true. I thought, you know, I need to do this forever. I want to do this. That was the moment I knew I was going to put everything I had into this, like I’m going to be broke and poor, but I am going to do it.
How did you end up in Nashville?
I moved to Nashville when I was 18 to go to school. I went to Belmont, and graduated from there. A lot of the people I work with now are people I know from school, we all stayed friends over the last 10 years. We have toured together. I met my husband there. I didn’t know that much about Nashville until I went to school, and then I was like I love it, and I never want to leave.
Who are some of your favorite Nashville artists?
There’s so many cool things happening there. I like to call them my fellow indie-pop songstress girls, then there’s some really great bands. I had some friends in a really great band called Paper Route that have been around forever. There’s so many I can’t think of all of them. It’s been fun over the last few years since there have been many more girls that do pop music coming up. For awhile, I felt like I was the only one doing pop, I know I wasn’t, but there’s really been this influx of it. I love collaborating with them and we go to all of each other’s shows, we’re like fans and friends of each others.
A lot of people were like why aren’t you moving to LA because my label is in LA, but I love being a part of something that’s growing and changing and being sort of at the beginning of that wave. And I know people were doing it before me and will continue to do it after, but I really feel that I am a part of the Nashville scene.
What are some of your style influences?
I’ve been getting a lot of people saying that I remind them of Debbie Harry recently, and I’m so into that look. I’m cool with the Debbie Harry vibes. But I’m really into like 60’s stuff, like last week I wore this yellow velvet romper with wide legs. I was sweating so much, but it was amazing. I draw a lot of inspiration just from like earlier decades. I love the 60’s and 70’s, but obviously this 90’s thing is happening and I’m totally okay with it, I really like it. Some of the lines that are coming out of Japan I like. I think because I have traveled a lot, I try to pay attention when I’m in other countries to what they are wearing and I love putting all of that together. I love vintage shopping and pairing that with new items. Local designers are also really important to me.
If you could swap closets with anyone, who would it be and why?
Does it have to be someone recent? Because if not, then Blondie for sure.
Because your EP’s name is Technicolour, what is your fave color?
I don’t really have a favorite color, I like all colors so maybe that’s why it’s called Technicolour.
Let’s talk about the new EP, what sounds and influences kind of played a role in the production?
So when we were working on the EP, we were listening to a lot of James Blake. That one commercial with the girl crying on the plane listening to James Blake is the most real thing I have ever seen. I have been that girl so many times, in fact, the other day I was crying on the A train also, so I just know that life. You can hear a couple of songs, and you can hear the old school elements we were bringing in, like Phil Collins, some Tears for Fears. The song “Distant Lover” was actually inspired by a Tears for Fears song, so if you know that, you can really hear the inspiration.
And then I am loving this new wave of Pop that is coming from the UK and from Sweden and so we are listening to a lot of them because we have been working on this EP for the last three years, so over the last few years that’s what has been driving this movement and this genre. There’s so many talented people.
What was working with the Nick Jonas like? Have you worked with anyone else besides him?
I worked on his first two albums with him. The album before the last, I co-wrote “Push” with him, so it’s the slower and vibe-ier track, you can hear James Blake vibes in it. I definitely have always collaborated with him on the more emotional songs, maybe that is my role in his life? But so on the newest album, I wrote “When We Get Home” with him and I was featured on it. That is on the international release, and then in the US it’s on the Target release, and then I think it will come out on digital soon. But that was really fun and the feature was kind of accident.
His album was already done when we wrote the song, which is why it was technically an accident. It was a race to get it done in time as like a bonus track or something because we all really liked it. So I wrote it, and he was tracking the vocals that day, and he’s amazing because he can track things so quickly, and there was this really high part that I thought he was going to go back and re-track, and maybe that day he just didn’t want to sing that high? So he had me go back and sing all these high parts and he just kept it in there. I found out it was going to be released when it was going to press. I didn’t know at all, but he did that for me and I’m really thankful.
Demi is a huge fan of yours- when she tweeted your song, it blew up. What is having her support like?
I was actually in a session with Nick, and I’m guessing he must have played her the song or something, and my phone just started vibrating and I thought something was happening to my phone because back then, I had my Twitter notifications on because I really didn’t get that many notifications. All the sudden I was getting tweets and follows like crazy, and so I thought something must have happened. I was able to scroll back far enough, and I saw that she had tweeted “All I Want” and I actually didn’t know her. She just liked the song and gave me a shoutout and she even did it in interviews too like on the radio. I was so honored and flattered. She actually also had me come out and play on her tour, I opened for her. One of her openers had something and she suggested that I fill in so I did!
What projects are you working on next?
So the EP just came out, and we are already working on the next release that is coming out in the spring. It’s a followup to the EP, but we are working on the all the visual content for the EP right now. I just shot a video in LA the day before I flew [to NYC] for “Technicolour”. And then we are working on some shows, one in New York. I just did a release show in Nashville, I’m about to do one in LA and Dallas because that’s my hometown. We have a live video we are working on too, so just a lot of visuals. The live video is still in the works, but it’s going to be recorded live and performed live, but we are going to shoot it in a way in which you feel like you are there.
What’s your dream venue to perform at?
The Ryman. It’s the best venue. Every show I have seen there has been life-changing for me, and a lot of people will do that like acoustic set because the acoustics are so good in there and you can do it without the mics. I saw Damien Rice there and wept. It was life changing and right when I got to Nashville 10 years ago. I also saw Regina Spektor there too, and it really influenced the trajectory of my life. If I could play The Ryman, I would actually just cry the whole time.
Where can fans catch you next?
Always on my social media. I’ve been snapping a lot recently and cracking myself up. But live, I will be doing a show in New York, LA and Dallas. We’re working on getting a winter/spring tour within the next few months. It’s really fun because it’s three of us playing. We’ve played together for years and it’s very representative of the album. We have some really great lighting and I am hoping we can do a club tour in the next couple months.
You can buy Daniella’s EP here.
Photography: Bree Marie Fish