Jordaan Mason offers what he may consider to be an illiterate songwriting ability that his fans would argue is one of the best they’ve ever heard. It’s not much of a wonder; as he himself says, lyrics are what takes the longest to make, because they have to be perfect, and his cult classic Divorce Lawyers I Shaved My Head solidified this role as creator of heart wrenching songs, some of the bleakest yet most beautiful descriptions of a failing marriage between a man and a transgender woman. In the six years absence since that time, he had three of the worst winters of his life, all the while slowing working on his newest album, The Decline of Stupid F***ing Western Civilization. For this album, it offers an electric direction, and to ensure a physical release, is being supported by fans on an indegogo project to fund its tangible birth at this site. Mason took time out of his current studies to discuss the album itself and what to expect.
The Oracle (Q): Where did the idea to funding the new album come from?
Jordaan Mason (A): In the last few years I have received many requests for my music in LP format. I don’t have a record label or the resources to do this on my own, so this fundraiser is positioned largely as a pre-order campaign. I did a very similar thing to get Divorce Lawyers I Shaved My Head out on CD and it was very successful, so I’m giving it another shot.
Q. How long has this album been in the work?
A. This album has been six years in the making. There’s a lot of reasons it took so long. Mostly just a lot of life stuff happening.
Q. I know the release has taken an electric direction, was there ever an intention to do another acoustic album?
A. The majority of these songs were written years ago when The Horse Museum was still around and we performed a few of them on a regular basis in an acoustic form. So for a while I thought that’s what this record would sound like. The Horse Museum disbanded in 2010 around the time that we would’ve begun to work on this album and I didn’t feel like it would be right to try to emulate that sound with other people. So I got together a different group of people and we went in a completely different direction with the songs.
Q. Is this a release as a solo or Jordaan Mason and the Horse Museum?
A. The Horse Museum was a very specific group of people in a very specific time and place. There’s new folks playing with me on this album and we tried to come up with another name but it was difficult and we gave up. So, it’s just Jordaan Mason.
Q. The album’s second single, “Pharmacy”, I actually found a video on YouTube for; is this a far older song?
A. “Pharmacy,” like many of the songs on the album, has been sitting around for a few years. It was actually the first song I wrote for this record.
Q. When it comes to song writing on an album, how has it changed throughout the course of your career?
A. Things come to me in smaller and smaller fragments, and then it takes a while to piece it all together. It’s always been that way but the process is always getting slower.
Q. Are there particular things you’d want to leave a listener with on this album, like a theme or message of some sort?
A. This is an album about living in a world of violence and how that violence destroys us. But violence comes in many forms, and destruction can also be a good thing sometimes; it means that we can start over. If we destroy the language that oppresses us and create our own, we can, in turn, build a better, queerer world.
Q. How do you think an artist’s work should be taken? In the course of talking to others you are fans of your material, I find many to dig very far into the lyrics; should this sort of deep analysis be taken or does it depend on the listener and what they need?
A. I think it depends on the listener and what they need. I spend more time on my lyrics than on my guitar parts but at the same time with this record and with the last I had very talented musicians fleshing out the songs and bringing out whole other ways for them to be listened to beyond just the words. If I hear those records, I pay attention to the details they added. I listen to music for all kinds of reasons and even the same songs will have different meanings to me at different times. I like that about music; it continues to live.
Q. Are there plans to go on the road with this album?
A. Yes, I am hoping to tour some. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do, but there will be some.
Q. How long have you been creating music?
A. Ten years.
Q. What drew you to creating music?
A. I like that music seems to come from the entire body. It’s comforting.
Q. What inspired this album to be created ? Knowing of the title to be on the ‘about the artist’ side on your bandcamp page, I had assumed at least one part had been floating around, unless other titles were abandoned?
A. There was never another title for this album. It’s always been The Decline of Stupid F***ing Western Civilization. The title is a reference to the film Totally F***ed Up, which aesthetically is a film that I find myself very much in sync with.
Q. Are you also writing a book? Does a lot of your songwriting fall in line with your prose creations, as though they are concurrent projects, with something like your novel The Skin Team being a longer treatise on elements discussed in Divorce Lawyers?
A. I just finished writing another book. It is called The End of Cinnamon. My fiction is very separate from my songwriting in a lot of ways but generally all of my work in all formats has similar themes and ideas being explored in different ways.
Q. You have a very active tumblr account; what does having fans asking you questions offer to you?
A. As much as I like to let the work speak for itself when it can, I also feel like it’s part of my role as the artist to be transparent, when possible, about what it is and why it is that I am doing what I am doing. I also like engaging with the audience as directly as possible, whenever possible.
Q. Who do you think is attracted to your music?
A. People who are just as confused about everything as I am, I imagine.
Q. I’ve heard you say your music makes you uncomfortable and that is why you make it. How does the strain help you, or fill your music with urgency?
A. A song comes when a song comes. You can’t force it. But at the same time, you do need to work at it. And sometimes when you’re working through things, it can be very uncomfortable. And I find it uncomfortable to use my body to perform because I find it uncomfortable to be in my body. But then I speak about that out loud – through the body – and it becomes a kind of catharsis, a way of letting out, letting go. So as much as it makes me uncomfortable to be so public about what’s happening to me, it’s ultimately important because it helps with the healing process.
Jordaan Mason’s music can be purchased here. His new album will be released on February 2, 2015, and is currently available to stream on his bandcamp. It has quickly become one of the best albums of 2014. For those interested in funding, check out this page.
Anthony Campbell // Staff Writer