MASAKA is well experienced in the world of music and performance. Having a family background in the industry, being part of bands in various genres, and having attended Berklee. Now, MASAKA is ready to take on the industry with his first solo project – Late 20’s Love Affair. We have a feeling that MASAKA is not only about to break out in a big way but we’re anticipating a playlist take over with this EP.
Being at the start of his career, many of you may not have heard of MASAKA prior to this article. However, we’re here to rectify that problem and make sure you know everything you need to join the fan club.
Late 20’s Love Affair marks the launch of your first EP – Congratulations! How does it feel to have the body of work out?
Thank you! It feels like a relief. Carrying songs that are this personal around for a long time starts feeling like a weight after a while. I wrote most of the songs about a year ago and releasing them meant that I could finally let go of the things that the songs are about. So it’s liberating and cathartic.
Watching the ‘MASAKA – Late 20’s Love Affair (short film)’ video felt like witnessing a monumental moment in your career. What inspired you to make the short film as opposed to a more traditional music video rollout like the first few videos you’ve released?
Well the film’s existence is really largely thanks to @_______nemo_______ and Max Becedas. nemo is the director and I came to him with a very embryonic idea that he turned into a massive one that him and Max then executed. The inspiration for making a film like that was a few things, especially Dijon’’s Absolutely but also Moses Sumney’s BLACKALACHIA. We wanted to make something that lives in between concert movie and music video because I love art that asks questions when it comes to format. I think fringe stuff like that sparks attention in the listener/viewer that hopefully makes them focus more than they usually do while listening and or watching.
You’ve spoken publicly about finding the right time to release this EP and everything you’ve been working on. What was it that made now the right time to put this out?
Initially, I was supposed to release a song or two before summer but I realised that enough time hadn’t really passed between the initial trauma that inspired the songs and the release. It was really just an emotional decision.
‘LIGHTS’ has already seen impressive success; how did the collaboration with Stella Explorer come about?
Stella and I have danced around each other on the Stockholm music scene for years without really introducing ourselves properly. I’ve been a fan of hers from afar for a long time but she made the first move by asking me to join her touring band this summer. After a few gigs I had built up the courage to ask her if she would be down to try something on the demo I had for ‘LIGHTS.’ She said yes and then we had a few sessions where we finished the writing and production together.
You went to Berklee in Boston, having come from a Ugandan and Swedish background and living in Stockholm. Would you say your cultural environment has helped shape your artistic experiences?
Yes, definitely! Going to Berklee as a Swedish/Ugandan was actually pretty interesting. Spending an extensive amount of time where black people hold such a powerful place in the cultural zeitgeist was very new to me. There was a duality within me that I became much more aware of there. It made me look at my upbringing through a new lens. And what I saw was at first a bit overwhelming but those years also taught me to use that duality in my art. I’m very proud of how I was raised and I hope it shines through in my music.
How has having such a strong background in jazz impacted your approach to writing, recording, and producing?
Well other than jazz music I have also toured a whole lot playing more commercially successful music so to speak. And the boring answer is that those experiences are more useful when writing and producing. But that being said, jazz is what sets me apart from a lot of my contemporaries I think. Since I’ve spent so much time looking for the road less travelled musically and also using my ears with extensive knowledge of harmony as a guide I think I can get to some places that people who haven’t spent as much time doing that might have a harder time finding.
We love the production of the EP. How involved are you in that part of the creative process?
Well, except for ‘LIGHTS’ that I finished with Stella, the production is all me.
Are there any artists who have inspired you and your journey to finding your individual sound?
Well there are really too many to name because since this is my first release as an artist I think the songs are really a miss mash of everything I’ve been inspired by up until the moment of writing them. That being said, in terms of finding the courage to actually put out a solo project as a person who had previously only wrote and produced for others I was heavily inspired by Yung Gud aka ‘’Rooster.’’ I love all the work he has done as a producer especially for Yung Lean but when I heard his solo project Rooster, I was struck by how fearless and personal it was. And it made me feel like I could and should do it too.
Your lyrics are intimate and reflective. Is this something that took a lot of time and effort to be able to be vulnerable in your writing, or is it something that has come naturally to you?
Before writing these songs I hadn’t written a line of lyrics for about 15 years. But it was one of those things you hear about where the lyrics kind of wrote themselves. I really can’t explain it but I think maybe sitting in rooms with great lyricists for years has made me pick up a few things. And the themes in the songs are so personal that the only way they could come out was vulnerable I think. I was really just using songs as a diary. Nothing more.
For our readers who haven’t come across your work, what two songs on the EP do you feel best encapsulate your energy as an artist and why?
That is really tough but personally I think ‘Ragdoll’ and ‘No Cap.’ ‘Ragdoll’ because it showcases the anemic side of me. I am kind of shy and low energy as a person but bold and rhythmical as a musician and I like how that song celebrates the juxtaposition of those two things. ‘No Cap’ is full of melodies similar to the ones I’ve heard other singers that I’ve toured with sing for years. And the outro is my lil’ rave moment lol. That one is probably the song I’ve listened to the most out of the six so I had to mention it here.
What is the resounding message you hope listeners take away from this EP?
That it’s ok to dwell in the sh*tty emotions that a breakup gives you for a while. Meeting them head on and writing them down really helped me to work through them and I know from listening to other heartbreak music that it can serve a similar purpose for the listener as it does for the creator.
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