Harvey Mason Jr: Quality Music, Quality Films

Most people look at their back-up plan as something they hope they never have to resort to, because it means that you could not make your dream come alive. Harvey Mason Jr. executed his plan B when he sustained a basketball career ending injury. Instead of playing in the NBA he ended up making hit records for Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Jordin Sparks, going on to achieving Grammy and ASCAP Awards for his work. Not bad for a back-up plan. In our interview with Harvey, we discuss what lead him to the music business and how he became the executive producer of ‘More Than A Game’ documentary featuring LeBron James.

Singersroom: You are a very busy man these days, I went through your discography and it’s like endless. Where did it all begin what brought you into the music industry?

Harvey Mason Jr: My dad was in the music business, I grew up around it my whole life so I started taking piano lessons when I was really young, and just hanging out in the studio and always having instruments in the house. So that’s how I was introduced to music, and song writing and music production.

Singersroom: I also read that you played basketball, on the 1988 University of Arizona Final Four team, what made you leave basketball and pursue music full time?

Harvey Mason Jr: Well actually a knee injury led me away from basketball. I hurt my knee senior year and I had to have surgery and at that point it was kind of a career ending deal. So I got more focused on my music…that’s kind of what determined the direction of my career.

Singersroom: In terms of the music you create you said in your bio that ‘one of the reasons why you think artists and execs like what you do is because you tailor make each song for each artist.’ How do you do that?

Harvey Mason Jr: Well in the past I always try to do songs specifically for artist so that you’re not just writing random songs you’re writing songs with somebody in mind. You’re trying to consider their history and their audience…their state of mind, where they are in their career…things that are relevant to them. I find with the artist when they sing those type of songs, they sing them with more conviction, more feeling because it’s actually something coming from them. Even though they don’t write it, it’s coming from their life and where they are in their career. So rather than just sticking a random song on an artist, it allows them to relate to it better and it allows them to deliver the story or the message of the song better. I’ve had a lot of success doing it that way; hopefully I can keep doing it.

Singersroom: That way sounds very effective and that would explain how you capture the emotion in your music, correct?

Harvey Mason Jr: Exactly

Singersroom: Do you notice a change in R&B music, like the lack of ballads in today’s songs compared to back in the day?

Harvey Mason Jr: Well yeah even in that last few years there is less ballads, less chord structure, less melody…but you know everything kind of goes in phases and in trends. I think real music will always be in style, it just takes a minute to for things to kind of circle back around. I think there’s some great stuff being done musically right now; I think there is more great stuff on the way. There’s some stuff I don’t like, there’s some stuff I don’t think is great…but I think that’s the case all the time, some good some bad, but I have to say that I think the good stuff will always return.

Singersroom: What is your favorite kind of song to produce?

Harvey Mason Jr: You know I don’t know; it kind of depends on the artist as far as stuff I enjoy making the most. I think in general I like making records with confidence behind them. I’m not so much driven by the tempo or slower ballad or fast…it’s more the songs. I really love to write and love to produce the songs that have a really cool concept. They’re not just talking about walking down the street or going to the club, it’s a song that has a little bit of depth to the lyric and cool melodies and great opportunities to do harmonies and things like that. Those are the songs I love and it doesn’t matter the tempo so much.

Singersroom: Switching gears tell us about your current project ‘More Than A Game’, how did that come about?

Harvey Mason Jr: I met a young film student who had the idea for the film and he brought me some footage, a little trailer, and showed it to me. I was blown away by it; I thought it was an amazing story, an amazing opportunity. I had never made a movie, he had never made a movie, but we decided to go at it together and try and finish this film. It was just circumstance, luck and good fortune that we ran into each other. That was a little over four years ago I think, so it’s been a long road, but very exciting and a lot of fun.

Singersroom: Prior to this project falling into your lap, were you considering film producing?

Harvey Mason Jr: No I had always thought about it; I thought it would be a great evolution from record production to film production. So [it] was something I had always dreamed about doing, then this opportunity came and it was perfect timing.

Singersroom: So do you have the film making bug now? Which one do you like better, music or film?

Harvey Mason Jr: Oh I always love music first, that’s my home. I’ve done other things, a little bit of dabbling here and there but I always come back to music. I love making records.

Singersroom: You already have a very illustrious career, if and when you retire, what legacy or impact would you like to leave on the music/entertainment industry?

Harvey Mason Jr: Well first of all I’m never retiring (laughter), no I’m just kidding, I hope I’ve leave a good string of songs, a good quality work that people will listen back to and say “man that was good music.” Hopefully my kids and my kid’s kids will think that their grand dad did a good job in making quality records and maybe a nice film or two. —— By: Interview By Lauren Walker

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