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Meet Mason Hensley of The Sovereign Artist in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mason Hensley.

Mason, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up learning music in church and fooling around on the piano that my parents had. I started playing the trumpet in elementary school and joined the jazz band in middle school. I also started learning the French horn at that time. I latched onto my first guitar at about age ten and spent the first few years mimicking Green Day and Blink 182 songs. By the time I was 14, I started working with my first guitar teacher. As the years passed, I joined various bands, performed numerous shows, and started taking music theory seriously, which led to me picking up many different instruments (banjo, ukulele, dulcimer, saxophone, drums, and bass).

I received a full-ride scholarship from the University of La Verne for Classical Guitar Performance, and attended there from 2009-2011, studying under Michael Ryan. I became a session musician in the summer of 2010 and started working out of a few studios (3702 Studio, Sonora Recorders, and ULV Studio). Those experiences familiarized me with the recording process, and I started collecting recording equipment and building a home studio, working with local musicians as a Producer, Songwriter, Mix Engineer, and Mastering Engineer. After years of honing my production skills, I began teaching Audio Engineering courses at The School of Arts and Enterprise, a charter high school in Pomona, California, and I’ve been there for three years now. I am also currently employed at Sycamore Elementary School as the Music teacher. In addition to the schools I work for, I have seven private students that I meet with weekly for one-on-one guitar lessons, bass lessons, and audio production lessons.

I play in two bands: The Sovereign Artist as the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. I also produce, mix, and master all of our recordings.

For Davy Brown Sound, I play guitar, keyboard, ukulele, melodica, and sing background vocals. I love the life of a musician, and I try to live it every day!

Has it been a smooth road?
A few years ago, I lost a job and decided to make music my full-time gig, rather than find employment elsewhere. I continued teaching my private music students and taking whatever freelance production work I could find, and I barely paid my rent. It was an extremely stressful and depressing time for me. It’s hard to feel creative when you’re constantly pressed for cash. Eventually, I was able to use my experiences to land a couple teaching jobs that have helped to make me a bit more financially stable while allowing me to let my life revolve around musical things. I am very grateful for that.

Please tell us about The Sovereign Artist.
The Sovereign Artist is a 7-piece band that blends hip-hop, funk, reggae, ska, and rock to form a fusion that we call So-Cal Funk. We’ve been a band for six years, and have played hundreds of shows in that time. We released our debut full-length album (Move Mountains) last August, which has been streamed over 100,000 times. We have shared the stage with acts such as The Dirty Heads, The Expanders, Hirie, Fishbone, Seedless, and Through the Roots. We have performed at many notable venues: House of Blues Anaheim, Riverside Municipal Auditorium, Fox Theater Pomona, Kushstock Festival (2018 & 2019), and the Garden Amphitheater.

We’re known for our high-energy stage performance, our wild horn section (trumpet, tenor sax, trombone), and the compelling lyrical content written by our vocalist, Carolina West. We are extremely proud of our unique sound, which we feel offers something for everyone. Our album spans multiple genres, and we try to set ourselves apart by making sure that our songs don’t all sound the same.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
As a band, we see our business becoming more and more online-based. Live streaming has continuously been growing in popularity, and we see that as a great compliment to our live performances, especially for fans that live far away.

In the next 5-10 years, I envision a lot of groups selling a higher percentage of their merchandise online, doing a majority of their networking on social media, and racing to gather followers on music streaming platforms all around the world. More artists and bands are going to have the ability to record their music as audio production becomes more and more accessible at home, and music distribution becomes more easily attainable. The bar is always being raised because, without much effort, you can find a new artist to listen to every day. And so many of them are amazing! The saturation that comes with increased accessibility to music creation and promotion will continue to encourage people to stand out.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Riley Hensley, Joseph Porreca, Danielle Wildasinn, Jason Brock

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