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A Glimpse at the Next Generation of Music in Philadelphia

Cover artwork for one of Mason's more recent singles, "Dive"

Music is an ever-changing art form that evolves at the hands of its composers and the unique style each one possesses. Sixteen-year-old Mason McAvoy is one of Philadelphia’s talented young musicians looking for ways to evolve music in her own unique style. It’s Mason’s one of a kind sound, symbolic lyrics, and passion for the craft that makes her stand out as an artist.

Mason found her passion for music on her fifth birthday when her grandparents gave her an acoustic guitar; she immediately fell in love. “I think music is just in my blood,” claimed Mason. “When my dad was younger, he was in his schools orchestra and later played the trombone in a jazz band; his knowledge has helped me a lot over the years.” As Mason grew as a musician, she learned to play the electric guitar, ukulele, bass guitar, acoustic guitar and is currently trying to learn piano, but for anyone that enjoys her music, it can be argued that her strongest instrument is her voice. Mason credits her unique sound with learning to sing and write music, but it didn’t come completely natural to her. “Before I started singing, I wrote a lot of poetry, learning how to make words flow together without any music in the background is ultimately what taught me how to write music,” Mason explains.

By eighth grade, Mason could play several instruments, sing and write – that’s when she decided she wanted to make music with others. Her friend Willem Cousineau was in a similar boat as her, talented, but having no one to share the talent with. When Willem and Mason began to play together, they immediately were able to see music in a way they hadn’t been able to see before. Mason explained that they had a unique, creative connection. After some time of playing together, Willem and Mason decided to start releasing some of their music they had worked on. Their first song together was called “Wintergreen.” By August of 2018, the two had released several singles and they were ready to become a band, naming themselves, ‘Mystic Prize’. After several months, the two musicians gained one last   member of the band, Yende Mangum, a talented pianist. The band was finally complete. In November 2018, Mystic Prize played a show at The Fabric Workshop where they had a successful turnout. The three look forward to playing at more venues in the future. Mystic prize released their first EP in late September.

The unique sound of Mystic Prize and Mason’s personal work gives off a sensation of curiosity enticing the listener to think not only about Mason’s lyrics but also the symbolism hidden within each word. Her incorporation of alternative jazz along with aspects of early rock/indie sound separates her work from others. Although there are not many individual artists Mason is inspired by, Edith Piaf, a French singer who reached her height in the 1940s, has given Mason a lot of inspiration for the way she uses her voice. Mason has found inspiration in other people in her life as well, “My former bass teacher, Mel Hsu, has probably inspired me the most with all aspects of music, and although I don’t have lessons with her anymore, I still keep in touch with her and go to her for advice.” says Mason. All artists work in different ways and Mason took this opportunity to talk about how Mystic Prize writes their music. “I’ll usually have Willem or Yende play me a sound and from there I’ll search my subconscious for words that describe how the sound makes me feel,” she explained, “I rarely know what I’m going to sing about beforehand. The inspiration comes on the spot and then after I have a couple of verses, I search for the symbolism that already exists within the lyrics.” Mason explained that a lot of her lyrics revolve around similar topics, the primary one being her past, present and future relationships, both romantic and platonic. “I also like to incorporate nature into a lot of my songs, one of them being, “Garden Party,” a newer solo song of mine,” stated Mason.

Mason, Willem, and Yende all attend Julia R. Masterman High School and balancing school with their passion for music can be challenging. When Mason isn’t playing music, she is practicing for volleyball, running track, or studying. Having the motivation to do the things you love to do can be hard when you are pressed with school work. “It prevents me from making music when I want to because I’m too tired or my mind is too distracted with homework to write anything I think is worthwhile,” says Mason. The hardest part for Mason and the band is trying to schedule practices because everyone has different schedules, and it can be hard for them to get together. They cannot always play together but they make their situation work and try to meet in the morning or at lunch, even if they just end up talking about new ideas. Mason tries to find time in the week to write music even if it’s just to decompress after a long day. Thanks to the band’s commitment and their parents support, Mystic Prize is able to pursue their love for music.

Mason loves music and every opportunity it has given her so far. She hopes to one day pursue a career in it if the opportunity presents itself. Mason sometimes regrets not learning more about music production or music theory because she feels it may limit her possibilities of working in the industry as she gets older. But to that, she says, “You don’t have to understand the technicalities of music to be a good musician, you just have to understand what your music means to you,” an idea that any young person unsure if they can achieve something can live by. As for now, it is impossible to know what the future will bring but Mason hopes it will favor Mystic Prize.

Masons Personal work can be found under yovacmm on soundcloud.com

Mystic Prizes music can be found under Mystic Prize on soundcloud.com

Oscar Wahl (279)

Staff Writer

 

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