Welcome back to another episode of the DrumGAB podcast! This week I spoke with Etienne Mason from Montreal, Canada. We discuss his process with making a daily video series that he calls “Night Improvisation” and the trials, the successes and the overall vision with this series and what he hopes to achieve with his efforts.
Who is Etienne?
Etienne is a fellow that I met through interesting circumstances. Back in 2016 I competed in a drum solo contest for the Victoria Drum Festival and through those efforts DrumGAB was born. A year later I checked 2017’s winners and Etienne was one of them. After looking at his Facebook profile I decided to reach out to him and make a connection. This started a friendship and I have been very interested in his journey since then.
Etienne is a jazz enthusiast that goes about his own way in learning about music, making videos, recording audio and using social media to distribute his content. Through his efforts he has created a very unique sound and visual aesthetic to his videos. He also incorporates keyboards into his music and controls everything live. I have heard several times that people find Etienne to be mysterious and so hopefully this podcast will allow people to understand him better.
Key moments in this episode
- Etienne begins by explaining how he developed his drumming abilities, which for the record are impressive. After one year at McGill University, Etienne dropped out because he felt he couldn’t have fun practicing anymore. Etienne prefers to learn his own way and likes to explore and mess around to learn new things. He used the money saved from leaving school to find his own place to rehearse.
- Next we discuss the level of composition that goes into a musical piece. We debate a little about whether he a drummer first or a composer first. Etienne walks us through how he goes about creating his music and what is revealed as a very lengthy process that he does every single day.
- So how does Etienne make these videos? What exactly did he have to do to make it happen daily? Well, the story to that may be the most important aspect of the interview. He literally had to set up and tear down every single day. He would ride his skateboard for twenty minutes with all of his gear in his hands to get to the space that he only had access to from 10 PM to 5 AM. He didn’t sleep much to say the least and whenever he had band rehearsals, he didn’t really sleep at all. I have never really heard of a story like this of how difficult it would have been to uphold a daily routine like this for the first eighty videos he would make. He had to make a change to survive the winter and continue with this series.
- Before these videos and his EP’s, Etienne played in TWENTY bands! All original music and it was up to him to keep it all organized. When he told me this, I was impressed with his will to work. It is nearly impossible for me to imagine how difficult that had to have been. He eventually burned out and had to remove himself from that situation and so he began making his own music again to fix himself.
- We then discuss what brought him to the Victoria Drum Festival and how that experience changed his outlook with his career that he is now trying really hard to establish.
- Our final point that we discuss is the topic of failure. Why is failure so important to personal growth and whether Etienne feels regret for any of the decisions he has made up until now.
I think the thing that people will take from this conversation is that we as artists and musicians need to approach our projects and develop our skills from an internal perspective. There is nothing wrong with referencing other people to help inspire us, but ultimately we have to be okay with who we are and what we want to create. Once that is identified, we have to push as hard as we can to become noticed. There will be many times when we all question our efforts and whether they are a waste of time, but every once in a while a wave will come by and introduce us to the next stage of our journey.
It is the hardest part of doing this. The not knowing part. Believing that we are moving in the right direction and whether anyone really cares or not. Etienne is not quite halfway through his daily series and it will be interesting to see what comes of his efforts. But whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that what he is doing is unique, good quality and is a testament to what he is prepared to endure to see it through.
Tracks featured (in order) all performed by MaySun
2. Black Silver
3. White Peafowl
5. One Sky