Related Artists

The Cribs


Josh Rouse


Emilie Autumn


Two Gallants

Willy Mason Biography


Home > Music > M > Mason, Willy > Biography


Born: 1984/11/21
Birth Place: New York, United States
Years Active: 2004–present
Genres: Folk, Blues, Country


Willy Mason (born November 21, 1984) is an American singer-songwriter.

He was born in New York, the son of Jemima James and Michael Mason, both folk singers. When Mason was five, he and his family moved from New York to West Tisbury, Massachusetts on the island of Martha's Vineyard. He attended West Tisbury Elementary School and Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, where he participated in several local bands such as Keep Thinking, Cultivation, and Slow Leslie. He also was in the MVRHS Minnesingers. He is a direct descendant of the 19th century philosopher William James, the brother of novelist Henry James.

Mason's popularity rose after Sean Foley, associate of musician Conor Oberst, discovered his music on a local Martha's Vineyard Radio broadcast. Oberst would soon sign Mason to his new record label, Team Love and release his debut LP. Since then, he has toured with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Kweller, Unbusted, and Radiohead and played such venues as the Glastonbury Festival, South by Southwest and most recently Marlay Park as a support act for Damien Rice. On July 3, 2010 he played at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, opening for Norah Jones.

His first commercial release was a five-track EP, known as the "G-Ma's Basement EP". This included solo acoustic recordings of "Live It Up", "Hard Hand to Hold", "Waiter at the Station", "Not Lie Down" and "Oxygen". The CD was sold during 2004 live appearances and on the internet.

In the summer months of 2004 Mason and his brother Sam traveled to Old Soul Studios in the Catskill Mountains, New York to record the debut album, ''Where the Humans Eat''. Recording sessions were mostly live, in no more than three takes, featuring Willy Mason's guitar and vocals, and Sam Mason on the drums. Minimal overdubs of guitar, bass and other instruments were added later. The album was released on Conor Oberst's Team Love label in the U.S.A in October 2004, and by Virgin Records in the UK in February 2005. ''Where the Humans Eat'' and its singles ("Oxygen" and "So Long"), charted in the UK Singles Chart and Albums Chart in 2005.

In 2004, he toured the United States. After many live appearances throughout 2004 and 2005, culminating with a performance at the Glastonbury Festival, Mason took time off and returned to his family's home on Martha's Vineyard. He began writing new songs and put a band together, featuring Nina Violet on viola and backing vocals, and Zak Borden on mandolin. In the spring of 2006, they began touring the U.S. and Europe, along with other musicians. So far he has supported Beth Orton, KT Tunstall, Radiohead, and Sondre Lerche.

Mason released his second album, ''If the Ocean Gets Rough'', in March 2007. He provided vocals for the track "Battle Scars" on The Chemical Brothers' album ''We Are the Night''. The song "Pickup Truck," recorded live at Aboveground Records in Edgartown, Massachusetts, is included on ''Radio Waves, Vol. 1,'' a compilation album of music from Martha's Vineyard, and released on June 29, 2007 to help purchase transmitting equipment for .

Willy Mason recently announced a small UK tour for September 2010, which will see him play small venues in Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. It is believed that he will be testing some of his new material in anticipation of a new album.