Newcastle's Mason Dane loves his hometown. Chasing Home, his new EP, is a love letter to the heart of the Hunter Region, while also outlining his intention to tell the world about where he's come from. Speaking to Mason about the project over email, he explains that across the seven tracks, he's looking to let people into his life in ways he might not have previously. "The focus on this project was definitely to let people into my life more and to be a bit more vulnerable in my music and even so in my life," he reveals.
"I'd been churning out these bangers and songs that aren't really talking about much and just there to create a vibe but I'm very much an emotional person and I have always had a love for different sounds so this was something I really felt like I wanted to do & also needed to do to let my listeners in a little more."
Opening track Runaway tells Mason's story so far, from making music in a caravan to spending countless hours travelling to and from Sydney to make music. It's a revealing insight into Mason's drive for success, speaking about family and friendship. Local producer Liam Thomas's influence on the project is clear, and Mason sings on Runaway, "Liam told me 'man you're different I can see it/so let's aim right for the top and never stop until we be it'/man I can't wait to show the world/just some white boy out of Newy/can be one of the coldest ones to ever do it." It's a clear mission statement, and Mason confirms this by telling us "it's just as much his project as it is mine, definitely our little baby."
Chasing Home is more poppy than some of Mason's previous releases, with his mellifluous vocals on full display across the project. While Mason and Liam looked internally rather than externally for inspiration, Mason points to Justin Bieber, Flume, Skrillex and Ed Sheeran as artists that have helped inspire the songs on Chasing Home. "When creating the project we tried to not look outward for inspiration as much as possible and to just try to lean into things we haven't done," Mason highlights. "I knew what each song was going to talk about, a point in time or a situation so it was more 'how do we express the feeling of heartbreak/the feeling of wanting to ditch a party with this one person' etc so we just played with different sounds until it felt right."
The idea of home is prominent on Chasing Home, and Mason says that finding where home is has been a running theme in his life to date. "I think home has always been an interesting one for me. Change of environment has been sort of a constant in my life," he reflects. "I feel like I find home in something or someone, then once I start to get comfortable there's a new change in environment, so I don't know if I subconsciously thrive in that space or if I'm longing for something more permanent. It's always been this thing in my head and I wanted to try to figure that out for myself through my means of expression. I'm still going to new places and meeting new people and finding situations for myself and I know it's only gonna keep going as things take off."
The previously-released Pretty Pearl and White Mercedes have both embodied this sense of looking for home. Pretty Pearl, which features rising artist Baby Prince, captures Mason's desire to protect the one he loves, while White Mercedes is an ode to finding yourself lost in someone's love. This theme continues with the bouncy Last Train Home, which sees Mason promising that he'd miss the last train back for that special someone. It's a project that's about both home and love, fitting given the saying that 'home is where the heart is'.
At this point, it'd be remiss to not mention T-Pain's part in Mason's musical journey, whose reaction to DASH helped introduce him to a whole new audience. It's a relationship that Mason values, explaining, "He's such a down-to-earth guy who really genuinely fucks with me and my music and just wants to see me succeed." He's not the only one, either. It feels like everyone that comes across Mason wants to see him win. Project highlight Daisy features melodies that T-Pain himself would be proud of, while Mason laments the fact that he's not over someone like he'd hoped. The piano-led beat heightens the track's emotions, and much like the rest of Chasing Home, it feels like a new frontier for Mason. It's a project that captures an artist that's totally aware of their strengths, and the strengths of those around them.
Reflecting on his chemistry with Liam, Mason points to their friendship as one of their strong suits as a duo. "Working with Liam is a blessing and I'm so grateful to have a brother like that who I can connect with on so many levels," he states. "We have the exact same humour, we take inspiration from very similar places and are on the same wavelength when it comes to workflow. Being that we're best mates we are at a level where we just wanna experiment with sounds together and are super insistent on getting out of our comfort zones."
To launch Chasing Home, Mason performed an acoustic set on a BMT Line train carriage, never failing to seize a moment to show love to his roots. Watching the footage, it feels like one of those moments that those there will talk about for a long, long time to come. Trains form a huge part of Mason's story, so why not play a selection of songs from the project to those who have been along for the journey so far? Without trains, Mason's story might be very different.
There's a voice at the end of Detached, a voice that people from Newcastle will recognise straight away. It's a voice that he's heard a lot over his lifetime. At the end of Detached, the voice you'd hear while waiting at Newcastle Station plays, and in many ways, it represents the goal of Chasing Home - show the world where Mason's journey began.
"Being in Newcastle and having to really hustle and spend hours and hours on trains going to studios every week taught me a lot about being independent and really being hungry for something," Mason explains.
At the time of publication, Mason's currently in the US, spending time in LA and Atlanta. It's the first time he's been overseas - and while he's in Atlanta, it's going to be his birthday. He's been spending time with T-Pain - first on stream, before hitting the club. Mason did tell us he was planning some "rowdy" celebrations, and it looks like things are in full swing, so why not celebrate? Chasing Home is a celebration of what it means to love your hometown, but also know that the wider world is yours for the taking.
i’m in magic city w t-pain rn wtf is life kent
— Mason Dane (@_masondaane) February 20, 2022
Mason's inspired by the success of those around him, shouting out Creed Tha Kid and Day1, but he knows his time is now. He explains, "There were definitely times where I felt like I was on the back burner and that I wanted to be dropping and blowing up at the rate of my friends but I came to realise I just gave myself time to develop as an artist in the background to the point that when it was my time, I was ready. That time just so happened to be now and I'm as ready as I could ever be."
The Australian music industry has long been dominated by the East Coast capital cities, but in recent years we've heard from artists coming out of a myriad of places in Australia, all with their own stories to tell. Mason's looking to put Newcastle on the map, and bring those around him along for the ride. "You hear about people coming from the big cities and doing their thing in the scene like Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane so it's good to have some representation from somewhere outside of that," Mason reminds us.
"Shoutout to Newy always, 2287 baby."