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James Lewis Mason
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James Lewis Mason
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As a keyboard Player / songwriter who has been exposed to a wide variety of musical styles, I try to transport the listener into cinematic settings with un
Bio: Inspired and encouraged by a friend (whose family owned a baby grand piano two doors up), I started piano lessons at age 7. My early attempts at writing short pieces were a distraction to learning classic piano literature. The distraction eventually won the battle resulting in my inability to sight read with any desired speed. I was introduced to multi-track recording by age 12 and purchased my first electric keyboard by age 13 (RMI electric piano - just like the one that Rick Wakeman played on "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge"). I bought an A.R.P. axxe synthesizer by age 15 and realized that my already questionable pursuit as a classical piano student was completely doomed. Choice: practice Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor ... or learn a blistering synthesizer solo by Keith Emerson. Sadly, Beethoven could NOT win that contest. I was heavily influenced by British prog rockers such as ELP, Yes, Genesis, and other groups like them. Their ability to weave so many different musical elements together was an inspiration for me to explore other genres of music. The jazz fusion movement that was rooted in the early 1960s confirmed that breaking boundaries could create a whole new spectrum of musical colors and rhythms. I have continued to write and record music that expresses an idea, an unusual sensation or mood. Members: Unfortunately, there are no other members - - so everything you hear is played by me on a keyboard and recorded into M.O.T.U. Digital Performer 7. It would be awesome to have a "real" guitar player replace all of the guitar parts that I play on the keyboard, although I do enjoy designing guitar sounds, amp settings, distortion and using the pitch wheel for note bending. It would be equally freaking awesome to have a real drummer and a real bass player (uh, anyone interested?) perform the parts that I write for those instruments but time and schedule just dont allow for that right now. As it is, the drum parts are all played by my callused finger tips pounding notes on the keyboard in real time with some quantization once in a while. I never use drum loops for anything other than backgrounds in the mix because theyre too restrictive. I actually enjoy building my drum tracks from the ground up with individual tracks for high hat or ride, kick & snare, toms, percussion, misc. fills and of course several tracks for cymbals. My bass parts are always played in real time using bass sounds from a variety of modules and virtual instruments.
Your musical influences
Influences: Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Satie, Harry Partch, Erroll Garner, Django Reinhardt and St├ęphane Grappelli, Chick Corea, Jan Hammer, Pat Metheny, Jean-Luc Ponty, Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Weather Report, Allan Holdsworth, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Keith Emerson & ELP, Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis, Kit Watkins, Happy the Man, Jordan Rudess, Flower Kings, Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Bib Big Train, Platypus, Devin Townsend, Dream Theatre, Joe Satriani, John Bonham, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabiel, Steve Walsh, Jethro Tull, Eddie Van Halen, Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Chuck Leavell, Warren Haynes, Stephen Stills, Derek Trucks, Steve Winwood, Nickel Creek, Jerry Douglas, Allison Krauss, Eva Cassidy, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy McGriff, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Massive Attack, Soma Sonic, Nosound, Boards of Canada, The Books, Umphrey's McGee, Heavy Pets, Ozric Tentacles, Particle, Garaj Mahal, Steve Hillage, John Scofield, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Jon Weber, Tom Coster, Niacin, etc. (where should I stop?)
What equipment do you use?
STUDIO: iMac 27 , running MOTU DP 7, Mach Five 3, Electri6ity, Symphonic Gold, MOTU Ethno Instrument, M-Tron, a few other Virtuals, MOTU 828 mK III, Roland Fantom X-7, LIVE: MacBook Pro, Roland A60 Pro, Roalnd VR 700, Roland D-50, Berhringer mixer, MOTU audio Express. Until 2008, I was using up to ten outboard synth-sample modules, two in-line mixers (16 & 24), outboard reverb, delay and processing modules and had all of it connected via 40-50 audio cables 20 or more midi cables, USB cables and lots of power cables that added tons of line voltage noise to my mixes. $#&$?*...Ugh!! Even my jingle producer in NY once asked me to remix a 60 sec sound clip because there was so much 60 db hum. I later found out it was my old Oberheim analog synth module - I loved that little machine. Fast forward to 2012: now I use a 27 Mac with tons of memory and massive power, my trusty Roland Fantom 76 keyboard and all the virtual instruments I need residing happily inside the computer. I'm not even using my Kurzweil K2000r synth-sampler at the moment...whoa, how'd that happen?. All my effect processing is done within each virtual or is controlled by DP7. I do all mixes within DP7 and am able to generate clean audio fileswith no unwanted noise. Life is good.
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