Jason Masi, a former standout soccer star found his calling in music and hasn’t looked back since. He delves into his music life and what he finds through it by living the dream as a full-time musician in the DC area. I met Jason when he played with Justin Trawick’s The 9 Songwriter Series at Saufhaus in Clarendon and he impressed me with his friendliness and talent.
Marlene: How would you describe your music?
Jason Masi: A mix of folk, R&B, acoustic rock and soul.
What made you realize you could be a musician full-time?
It was a gradual process. I realized with my college band that there was a demand for reliable, hard working bands and musicians. I lived with that band through a lot of my twenties and performed hundreds of shows, which allowed me to supplement my day-job income. When I started performing as a solo artist in my late twenties, I saw the possibility of actually leaving my day-job, as the demand for solo work was high and I had developed a lot of strong relationships from working almost a decade with various agents and venues throughout the area. As a solo artist, I’m able to play shows by myself when that is appropriate and bring in other musicians as needed for bigger stages.
How do you survive as a musician full time? You’re living the dream!
Ha! It’s really not much different than any other business. I try to maintain strong relationships with those I work with regularly and try to do my best work for those who continually hire me. I also try to maintain strong relationships with fans, friends and supporters of my music. Maintaining a strong network is really key. I hustle my rear off and play lots of gigs and stay open minded about different opportunities. On the business side, it’s important to understand some basic cash flow stuff so I am balancing what comes in and goes out.
Where can we usually catch you playing?
I’m in the winery circuit a lot these days in Loudoun County, so if you are out that way, I will be hard to avoid. Sunset Hills, Creek’s Edge, Quattro Gooma’s, Barns @ Hamilton Station, Lost Creek are just a few I frequent. Check out my shows page on my website, follow me on Bandsintown, and join my mailing list for updates!
What are the best venues to see music in the DC area?
9:30 Club, Jammin’ Java, and Wolf Trap.
What are your goals with your music?
My main goal is to continue writing and recording music that matters to me and that I’m proud of. My hope is to play bigger stages with some of my favorite artists, travel to additional cities I’ve not yet performed and have my music licensed for film, TV and commercials. I love helping the next generation of artists find ways to make their craft work in the current market and hope to find new ways of doing that. I’d also like to explore ways that music can be a therapeutic source for those who are vulnerable. I’m grateful for where I am and being able to play music full time, but I hope to reach these goals and more as I continue on this journey.
Please take us through your writing process.
I try to finish writing a song a month at a minimum. Sometimes I’ll write more, but that at least keeps me creating an album per year. For me, generally it starts with a riff on guitar and I’ll work melodies over it gradually until it starts to take shape. As the melody and subject of the song take form, I try to hone in on what I want to say and how I want the dynamic of the song to play out. Sometimes the idea just pops and a song is done in a few minutes. Other times I’ll toil for months and still not be satisfied with the outcome. I’m always listening to music and trying to make observations about the world around me and my own relationships, so inspiration is readily available when needed.
What big musical dreams do you have?
Playing a big stage like Wolf Trap or Red Rocks would be amazing. Writing a theme song for a TV Show or Movie Soundtrack would be really cool. Creating a song(s) that make it into the collective public conscious and leaves a positive legacy would be incredible.
What has been the best experience to date on your musical journey?
When I played the Special Olympics a few years back with my Richmond band that was an experience I won’t forget. There was something special that happened between the athletes, their families and the band where everyone just had a moment of catharsis through the music. There have been many moments throughout this journey where I get to witness the power music can have on peoples’ souls. It’s especially powerful when it touches those who are most vulnerable and need it the most. I’ve had people who listen to certain songs I’ve written tell me that a song or album got them through a hard time or changed their perspective on an issue they were struggling with…those moments are the most rewarding.
What are the general themes in your songs?
I tend to write about what’s on my mind and what I care most about. Some of my main themes include:
Making love work.
Putting good into the world, making it a better place.
Living a simple but meaningful life.
What instruments do you play?
Mostly guitar. I dabble with some piano.
What is your life motto?
The Golden Rule: Do good and good will come back.
What do you attribute to helping you live the dream as a musician?
Persistence, dedication, a strong network, some talent, and some luck, A basic understanding of how business works. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had friends and family who believe in what I do and have given their emotional support even through the struggles. It took some time, but once my parents realized this was who I was and the path I was on, they were behind me 100%. My wife has always been my #1 fan and I knew her before I wrote my first song or played my first gig.
What advice do you have to budding musicians?
Find your thing. Be honest and true with yourself. Maybe you are the next Bruno Mars, maybe you are a music director at a local school, maybe you are the side man at a local pub every Friday night, maybe you’re behind the scenes as a producer/writer or some combination. Whatever the journey, it is uniquely yours. Learn from those around you, but don’t compare your career to others. Just do your thing and be you and give 110% always. Don’t get down from rejection, as it will likely happen a lot. Always show up. Surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented than you.
Jason Masi’s website.