Interview with Reece Mastin
Coming off the back of an Australian tour with the band Sheppard REECE MASTIN caught up with Amnplify’s Emily Horton to talk new music, touring and up and coming shows!
Reece Mastin, How are you going?
Not too bad thank you very much, how are ya?
Yeah, good thank you. Thanks so much for talking to me today.
No fuss, not at all.
I just want to start off with talking about your Australian tour with Sheppard. How was that experience?
Oh Ripper, I know they played down at the Gympie a couple of years ago so I was chatting to them about the Gympie shows and stuff as well. They were awesome shows. We ended up in the Metro which was probably my favourite in Sydney. They are lovely. They are absolutely lovely the Sheppard people and it is always good playing with another Australian band too. It was a good little run that one!
The show had raving reviews and you performed with Taylor Sheridan.
I did yes. Yes!
You two work so well together on stage, what more have the two of you got in store?
Well I’ve just been down in the studio the last week and stuff getting some new music together. Taylor was up there with me. And yeah we had heaps of fun together on the Sheppard shows and he will be coming to Gympie with me as well. We’ve got the band coming down, so I think people have seen us as a duo but you know getting to play with the full band is going to be even better I reckon.
Yeah, a bit of a bigger sound than your acoustic set with Taylor?
You won X-Factor in 2011 at the tender age of 16. How has your life changed since then?
Oh man it’s been so long. That’s the thing, now I kind of look back at the show and I even forget some stuff that went on because it has just gone so quickly. I mean that’s what has been so good about the last couple of years, I’ve been able to find the avenue I want to go down a lot more and I’ve been able to and had the opportunity to actually do it and stuff so it’s been a bit of a whirl wind but now, especially with this new music that I’m doing at the moment. I am definitely feeling like it’s starting to go more in the direction I want for sure.
You’ve remained so humble and true to yourself despite your big pop-star shot to fame so young, what keeps you humble and grounded?
Um I don’t know, I mean right now you know. Obviously when you’re on the show, you’re sixteen years old, your mind does some stupid things, and I have probably done a few of them myself but you know. Realistically I’ve just really found everything I want in music and just you know I really want to keep that going for the rest of my life. I think that’s what drives me to do you know everything I can to keep that going and still be able to pay my rent and get by. So it is like, I think being humble is just really loving what you do and being happy enough to have the chance to do it, so I think that has kind of kept me grounded.
I feel like you have really come into your own in the last two albums, Beautiful Nightmare and Change Colours. From a young teen winning the X-Factor to an artist, singer, musician and songwriter. You’ve developed and matured over the last, what is it, 6 years. How would you describe yourself and your music? Some people call you a Pop-star, some people call you a Rock star and your versatility makes it hard to define your genre.
Yeah absolutely I mean that’s the thing, coming off a TV show you are kind of…doing things that aren’t necessarily 100% what you really want to do and you make that kind of sacrifice throughout being with different labels and being with certain people who need you to do certain things. I think for me, obviously leaving Sony and making that decision to kind of go and do things for myself obviously changed things quite drastically with Change Colours which is obviously more where I want to be in the rock world and stuff. This last week I’ve been in, I won’t say too much, but I have been going in and getting this new music done and I’ve brought my own band in and as a singer/songwriter I’ve been writing for a long time and I’ve found the songs I think that I really want to use and the way I really want to go. It makes it easier for I guess people listening to the music to understand what it is but yeah, it is definitely I mean I don’t mind being called whatever as long as people like the music. The genre in my eyes anyway is definitely more, well as long as it’s got a guitar in it and a proper drum kit than it’s probably gonna be something that I’m going to do!
Hell yeah, that’s the way to go.
Change Colours really shows a maturity beyond your years. Most people your age can get swept up in the hype, the fame and the industry, and don’t have the strength or maturity to write what you want and really be yourself. Where I find that this album is that, it is really you and it’s really raw. What are you influences? What influences your music?
Um… I mean obviously it is all emotionally real life stuff and stuff I have thought of myself. But I work and have written with a lot of really great people. The two different kinds of people in the song writing world is one where you’ve got the ability to kind of write for anyone and get into their headspace. I think really for me, being my own artist and primarily writing for myself it’s all about being really, I use the word honest but I think it’s more you know just understanding yourself and getting in your own head and understanding why you feel the way you do and getting it out in a way that’s… even sometimes it might not be the way you actually feel it’s just the way you want to project. So, I think for me it was, Change Colours really opened my eyes to being honest and you know giving people actual stories to hold onto that are real and, you know there is no point giving advice to someone that is complete bullshit really. You need to have lived it, and gone through it and you know I think getting those songs out, especially on Change Colours and this new record I’ve been working on I’ve just really thought to myself I want to be as honest as I can for people listening to it so they can believe what I’m saying and what I want to get across. I mean it’s as much as like, you know, when you are writing anything political you can’t really give someone an insight into what have or want them to think or believe in when you don’t believe in it yourself. Realistically, my favourite songs anyway are those that I know the person singing or playing has been through and can feel every emotion in there, because music and emotions are completely on the same page.
You’ve formed some really wonderful relationships in the making of your latest album, working with Mahalia Barnes, Jimmy Barnes who even features on the record as well as The Living Ends Chris Cheney just to name a few. What is it like working with these people and how do they influence you, if that makes sense?
Well obviously Jim and Mahalia I’ve worked with them for, well I worked with Mahalia for quite a few years. I’ve been singing with her for a while. I did all my vocals down at Jimmy’s studio and it’s great being able to be around great singers, it’s obviously nerve racking as all hell as well, but It was great having them there, especially Jimmy and Chris knowing that’s ultimately what you want to be. You want to still have the opportunity to be playing shows to fans 40 years on and I think that was a big thing for me. Especially sitting down with Chris as a guitarist and being able to pick his brain, I mean, as far as singing goes I think I’ve backed myself a little bit and you can obviously learn more and more from every singer you sing with, especially with guitar as well something I’ve been diving into more and more over the last four or five years being with Chris, and Diesel who is on the record as well. Watching them play you know, that really opens your eyes up and it makes you step your game up as well. I mean I might be a bit younger and they might have a few years on me but man they are absolutely incredible singers and musicians so just really being able to be around them and in the studio with them you can pick up a lot.
I want to talk a little bit about the Gympie Music Muster which is coming up in August. Are you excited to be performing at this festival?
Oh I can’t wait! Me and my drummer, we went to a festival down in California called Stage Coach which is a big country music festival there. While we were there we were chatting about Gympie, because we didn’t get to go obviously, because we were over there in the States and that was last year and then we got the call from the guys and they said we want you at the Muster and I was like absolutely! That’s amazing! So I get to bring the whole band down and play some of the songs that I’ve been working on this week in the studio hopefully. Yeah I can’t wait get out there and check everybody out there’s a lot of cool bands going down that I haven’t actually been able to see so I can’t wait to go and see what all the hoopla is.
It is going to be exciting; the line-up is 100% home-grown Aussie talent. Is there anyone in particular that you are personally excited to see?
Busby and Marou I really wanna see. There are probably some guys that I haven’t seen before, and obviously I know Jess (Mauboy) quite well so it will be nice to see her again because we are never really on the same bills ever. People like Amber Lawrence and Adam Brand; I mean everybody on here is really lovely. I’ve done a duet with a girl called Cailtlyn Shadbolt who is on a the Muster as well. I’m really looking for to, as you said its Aussie home grown talent and luckily I’ve gotten to meet a lot of them and now we get to go and play a show together. You know it’s going to be fun not just for the punters but it’s going to be amazing for all the artists behind the scenes as well. It’s gonna be a ripper!
It should be wonderful. The Muster has been going for over 35 years and it’s still going.
And it shows no signs of slowing down.
Exactly! Now what kind of a set can we look forward to seeing you play at the Muster?
We’ve been actually rehearsing for the last few weeks, in and out, when we’ve got some spare time we’re rushing around everywhere. It’s pretty full on. We are not going to hold back I don’t think. My idea when I play my own shows I like to have a lot of, you know, a lot of dips and heights throughout the show because obviously I want to play for as long as I can, but seeing as these sets are a little bit shorter we’re just going to go all out. I think it’s going to be a lot of rock and roll and I’m going to throw a bit of country in there seeing as we’re a t a country festival and yeah it’s just going to be a whole lot of energy and a whole lot of volume. I’m going to bring my big amp so it will be good.
Oh good, that’s exciting to hear. Will you be camping at the festival?
Yeah I think so, we were talking about that and we were like there is however many ten thousand people or twenty thousand people coming to this and there is like three motels so I reckon. Well we don’t know what we are doing yet, I don’t know how many, my band’s obviously going to come down but I think we might bring a group of friends down with us too so I’ll probably find a campervan or a tent somewhere and camp in there.
Nice, give it the full on festival experience.
Yeah, you have to!
About the Gympie Music Muster, it is one of Australia’s biggest charity events, many people don’t realise that it’s a not for profit event. A few years ago you became one of the youngest White Ribbon Ambassadors. That is quite a remarkable thing for you to do, to utilise the spotlight for a good cause. Are you still involved with White Ribbon?
Yeah, I mean it’s not something you really stop being involved in. I think it is more about, unfortunately there’s more and more going on all the time and you know, just being someone that is involved by being aware and everybody around you knowing that’s what you stand for and you know opening that up to people’s eyes. It’s questions even, just like you are asking me now about being involved with White Ribbon is even helping out by spreading the word because realistically that’s what it’s about. You need to get people to a place where they feel comfortable enough with the community and people they have around them to actually reach out and have that conversation. A lot of the time we don’t know what is going on and you can tell people to keep an eye out for this, that and the other and you know every now and again you hear someone go like I reckon old mate is not being too kind and you know overstepping the line. For me, it’s frustrating that there are people that are going and asking if anybody needs help and obviously not taking it too far and getting into even more trouble. I think it’s more about everybody being aware that it does go on way more than we think it does and I’m talking like a woman a week dying from it in Australia which is way way too much. It’s really about making people aware of what’s going on and I’ve had a lot of friends of mine that have come out and had a chat to me, and even asked how they can get more involved to spread the word even. You know, I’ve got three sisters and my Dad lives at home with four women so it’s just kind of bred into me to be, if not just a little, but more protective and to keep your eye out for people in general. Especially for those people who can’t really help themselves. As long as we keep pushing it, as in Australia, and looking out for our friends and family.
And keeping that conversation going.
I think that just proves you have a really big heart Reece Mastin and you’re a genuine, good, down to earth guy.
Oh bless ya.
So what’s next for you after the Muster? Is there any new music on the horizon, you we talking a little bit about it before.
I’ve been in the studio the last week in Victoria, I am pretty much done I’ve just got to put the bits and pieces together. But I have been writing pretty much since I did Change Colours. I just wanted to, with this one, find the right people to do it with and really find the right band and the sound and everything. I’m pretty excited, I have this new one I’ve just been listening to in the car with my mates and stuff, and haven’t even mixed it yet, I’ll go in and mix it soon. It sounds absolutely incredible so I’m really pumped to do this one and I reckon this is by far the closest I’ve gotten to what I truly honestly sound like and represent myself as like a musician and a person as well. The stories of this record, some of them are pretty harsh and some of them are pretty fun and yeah I’m just very very excited. We should have that, I mean I’m probably going to play a few at the Gympie show but by the end of the year we will definitely have some more stuff coming.
That’s all very exciting. I’m really happy for you that you’re finding yourself and finding your music. I mean you are so young and it crazy to think how much you have done and experienced in the last few years and how it must have been quite a journey.
Oh yeah. When I look back at it now and I talk to a lot of people, there are things that when you’re young and you know…There is a lot of things that I kind of missed out on I guess, and times of being a sixteen to twenty year old where there is a lot of things and friends and stuff that I probably fell out of touch with. I do meet a lot of people even like Taylor (Sheridan) who I’m in a small town with at the moment and you know, you’re walking around and you know the person from the coffee shop and you have these personal relationships that I have kind of missed out on in some ways. But on the flip side of that, I have kind of wrapped my head around the way this industry works a lot younger. I’ve been with the bigger labels and the smaller labels. I’ve been f*#ked over and I’ve been looked after a lot too. In a weird way, I’ve grown up very quickly and in other ways I’m still very immature when it comes to some life choices, but it’s been a good journey.
It’s good to be a kid at heart.
Yeah, I mean that’s the thing. I still kind of cling onto things especially you know at the end of a big tour or something like that I’m more than likely to go out and have a bit of an overly “party” party. I don’t regret anything that’s happened, the bad and the ugly as well, you’ve just got to take life the way it comes and just be the person you want to be. There’s a lot of times that people kind of get lost especially when you’re going through tough times and stuff but I think just actually realising and you’re getting to the age now where you kind of know fully that now you can put your head down and start chasing the finishing line.
I feel like saying congratulations to all of that!
Oh thank you, thank you very much.
You’ve got a maturity that’s really, beyond your years. That sort of positivity really resonates with young teens and young adults especially. So thanks for sharing that with me today. I am looking forward to seeing you at the Gympie Music Muster, it’s going to be a really exciting festival and I can’t wait.
Oh yeah, ripper!