The only information you need to know that Mason Noise is not your average 18-year-old is hearing that while Pharrell Williams is an influence, so is Sammy Davis Jr.
How many teenagers even know who the legendary Davis is?
Birmingham, England’s Noise laughs.
“My dad is a music fan of that era, so he introduced me first to Paul Anka, and there was a particular song that Sammy Davis Jr. did of his, and it was ‘I’m Not Anyone,’” he explains. “He did it because of some of the racial slurs he was getting as being part of the Rat Pack, and Paul Anka wrote him this song from friend to friend, and the songwriting and his voice were incredible, and I found that story completely applied to me and stuck with me. He was in an interview, and someone said to him ‘what has changed in your life now that you’re famous?’ And he said ‘nothing. Now I have money to do the things that I do.’ It was almost like that complex of the expression ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’ I thought that was so powerful, and that stuck with me.”
Noise is in the process of making it right now, with the single “Take a Seat” getting positive critical and popular reviews and a new single “Boyfriend” about to follow suit. You would think this is a heady time for this young man, but in a refreshing twist, he approaches his music and the world with an attitude more suited to someone decades older. In short, he’s 18, but with an old soul, and that’s reflected in his reaction to the success of “Take a Seat.”
“I knew in the studio at the time that it felt good, and I think that’s what matters when you make a song; that it feels good to you at the time,” he said. “You can’t ever preconceive how the public are gonna take it, but after the response we got from some people, each of them said it was a completely different genre. One said it was EDM, one said it was pop, one said it was R&B, one said it was urban. So when you hear that response, if people don’t understand it, then I can understand, but that response was flattering to me and I thought we may be on to something here if no one can put it in a box.”
Artistically, that’s a home run; but when it comes to selling records and taking a career to the next level, being eclectic can be a curse, especially for a new artist. Noise is well aware of the road he’s traveling.
“There are two different sides to it,” he said. “On one side of the fence, if you’re a known artist and you do that, then it’s genius. But if you’re an unknown artist, people don’t understand it until it gets to the stage where you’re big enough for people to accept it. But right now as an unknown artist, I think it’s confusing for people because they’re so used to having everyone put themselves in that one compartment and release a couple songs and make their money off of them. For someone who wants to start up a brand and a worldwide global music style, it’s going to take time for people to receive it the way I’d like them to. I think that’s natural and I don’t blame people for that because that’s the way the industry’s been worked these days. People just want to have their cash cow and their one-hit wonder. That’s not what I want to do. I want to have a 15-20 year career.”
At least that, and in the meantime, Noise is willing to be patient, stick to his guns, and put in the work necessary to get to where he wants to go. It’s the Birmingham work ethic in him.
“When you’ve been in a situation in life of desperation, and not so much as in poverty, but being at the point where there’s been no money around and you’ve seen your parents struggle and things like that, there’s nothing else right now that I want to do or can see myself doing in life,” he said. “And everything that I’ve done so far would be in vain if I was to quit, and the statement I’m trying to make is so big that it will take time and I understand that. I have patience, but the journey that I’ve had so far is to put in the autobiography and to stack up until it does click. Without struggle, there’s never any progress, so everything that’s happened to me so far – all the no’s and the “that’s not gonna work” or “We don’t want to play this,” that’s just in the back story. It happened to all the biggest artists, and since I’ve been in the industry, “Happy” by Pharrell was turned down by radio. So when you hear things like that, on the one side of the coin, it’s almost like, if that gets turned down, how do I have a chance? But then on the other side, it’s well, if he’s getting turned down, then why do I have to worry?”
Born and raised in the same city that produced Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, Noise’s music is far removed from that of the heavy metal gods, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have a healthy respect for the past – if the Sammy Davis influence wasn’t enough for you.
“I’m only 18, so I don’t profess to know everything, but I know when I hear a song, I know it’s probably been done three times over or it’s probably a sample,” he said. “People will say ‘Blackstreet, “No Diggity,” that was groundbreaking.’ Yeah, but what was it sampled from? Bill Withers. And then you listen to Bill Withers and then you think ‘that’s the genius, that’s where it starts.’ You have to go back. And if you’re on top of what was before and that far back, then you can create new trends. You have to pride yourself on that and respect what was before you.”
That respect comes from his parents.
“I had the Motown and reggae side from my mom growing up, and I had the Eric Clapton and Elvis side from my dad,” said Noise. “I started to play the guitar because of Eric Clapton. I owe a lot to my parents for giving me that insight and making it important.”
Noise especially points to his father for not only giving him a strong musical base, but for encouraging him at every turn to chase after his dreams.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for my dad,” he said. “He’s given up eating to pay for things for me, to pay for guitar lessons, for my first Apple Mac. When I was doing school work and it was time for exams, I needed an Apple to do the composing element of my exam, and we either needed a new fire or I got an Apple Mac, and my father went to the store and had no qualms about getting that straight away. I wouldn’t be in this position right now if it wasn’t for him. Even right now, he says ‘you only get one shot, you only get one life. I wish I was doing what you’re doing when I was your age, and this is why I’m supporting you in this way.’ He’s given me all the opportunities that he never had, and to have a parent like that, I’m just blessed.’”
Now it’s just onwards and upwards for an artist who gets it, who knows that slow and steady wins the race in this business and in any walk of life. So while a couple hit singles are nice, it’s only the beginning.
“I think that it’s important to always chase a person in yourself and if I can get to a point where I always feel like in five years, I feel like I’m not there yet, and the next five years I’m feel like I’m not there, and I chase progress, I know I’ll always be doing better than what I would be if I was satisfied,” said Noise. “I think it takes a lot for someone to be satisfied and happy in life, and once you get to that stage, then it’s done. I’ll always try to beat the last thing I did and try to progress. When you think you’ve made it, I think that’s when you’re happy in life, and I don’t know when that’s going to be. I can’t put a time on that.”