By Ruby Gates
I had the pleasure of meeting with former KPH manager Mason Kirkpatrick to discuss his new record, These Are the Good Old days (OUT TODAY, March 4th), and what life as a musician is like post LC. During his time at Lewis and Clark Mason majored in History, spent many hours archiving the KPH radio collection, and poured his heart and soul into KPH radio as the general manager, among other roles. As an active musician, he worked on various projects and brought his own full record to life over the last two years. In conjunction with its release, here is what Mason…Echo, Bravo… is up to in life, work, travel, and music:
Mason began his new job in Brooklyn on the morning of this interview. Having just gotten to the studio, he sits in front of a wall of windows.
Ruby: So tell me about this new job!
Mason: I’m working for Andrew Savage from Parquet Courts. I'm his archivist now…so I'm in his studio, like, going through all of his art and stuff for all of the records, which is pretty crazy…certainly a dream situation.
R: Wow. How did you land that?
M: His email’s on his website, so I just emailed him, like “hey, you should pay me to archive all your stuff,” and he was like “yeah, actually”.
… and he has a radio show at this community radio station that my friend works at a bunch, so I ran into him a couple of times there.
R: What else have you been up to, has life looked like in the last year post LC and KPH?
M: Like, I graduated from Lewis and Clark in May and then moved home to Chicago and worked at a bar to save up money to move to New York. Then, I moved here to Brooklyn in August and started working at an art gallery in Chelsea, which was… interesting. I was doing an archiving project for them, but I was doing art handling, too. Basically anywhere from driving a van full of art to Miami to changing my boss’s Netflix password. Got to go to Miami for the art fair…I don't think I've been to a crazier place, ever.
R: And then…
M: I heard from Andrew, so I put my two weeks in, and here I am.
R: Is this something that once the project is done, you’re done? Or is it an ongoing project?
M: That's a great question- I was thinking about that earlier today, because I proposed it as a three-month-long project because he has a huge file cabinet full of his art since, like, Light Up Gold…all of the drawings from the records, and all of the tour posters, t-shirt designs…
…we were talking, like, when he’s here in the studio, I don't want to be here because I don't want to be in his way when he's in the zone, really, so it seems like it has the potential to be a longer thing….and I’m sure he knows other people who need a similar thing done, and I want to get into audio, too, so this is a really great first step that I'm really excited about.
…And he’s a super nice guy. He totally could have been super mean to me and I would have been like, “okay”...I still would have done it. I really lucked out…and all from a cold email, too.
I’d love to find another gig pretty similar to this…and I’m working at a flea market selling records on Sundays. So, I’m feeling pretty good about my work situation.
R: And in the meantime, you’ve been working on your new album…
M: yeah! It’s finally done and coming out next Friday which I'm really excited about! Yeah, it took so much longer than I thought it was gonna. Because you know like…I talked to Max about it…I asked him to formally help and produce and record it, but I had no idea. I think if you’d asked me last January I would have told you April of 2021, and here we are in March of the next year!
…I had no idea what it took to make a record and make one that I think I'm happy with. I had no idea how to do it. The only way to know how to do it…is to do it. How many songs do I need to make to get ten that I'm pretty happy with?
R: Yeah I think that’s something people don’t think about in music. How much more is there that’s not on this record?
M: It’s a conversation I had a lot with Aidan Mackie, the old KPH manager before me, which was just before your time, but we were talking about how many songs do you have to make to have just one that you think is worth polishing up and putting into the world…and his number was like 30. I probably did like 5 that I didn’t feel fit on the record, or happy enough to put out….It’s good that it exists as an idea that I can return to later.
R: Do you think you’ll finish them at some point?
M: I think it will be more something that I have on my computer as a reference, like, “oh I really liked those chords” or “that synth would sound good here”. Sort of deconstruct for the individual idea when I'm in a rut.
R: You worked with Max and Aidan…were there any other LC connections you used?
M: Yeah, so Eli played drums for half the record, and Max played bass on all those songs. There are really two batches of songs…the first half was recorded at the KPH studio, and the other half I sort of wrote in New York because I didn't have a job and all my friends did. I don’t wanna sit here and write more cover letters. And I started working with my friend Carter, who started and really runs Mount Orange records at his apartment in savannah… so I flew down there before I started working full time to sort of finish the recording.
So all of the synth work was Carter. And then my really good friend, Jack Hawkins, who is also in Mount Orange and does stuff under babycreativestars…he played drums and guitar, which I was really excited about, because I've always really admired him and he's probably the best musician I know, so I was really excited I was able to convince him to play a guitar solo.
R: Why did you make this record?
M: It was something I always really wanted to do. I only started making and recording music my freshman year at Lewis and Clark, very aimlessly, then the summer of 2020 when covid happened I got pulled back from abroad and was living with my parents… and had to get out of there… so I impulsively moved to Montana with some friends for the summer.
…Carter was the first person who was like you should actually do this. Because we made a record and a half that summer and essentially scrapped all of it. It didn’t feel like an abstract concept anymore…this is something I can do.
R: I was wondering if you could describe what the “cohesiveness” is for your new album?
M: Yeah, I recorded… I mean, all the effects on my guitar were the same for every song and I think that that’s something that helps bring all the songs together because sonically it makes sense like that and follows through it. And before I even started I made a playlist for Max that I wanted to sort of serve as a sonic palette.
…And writing the songs, I wanted it to be my voice. It was recorded in a handful of different places with a handful of different people, so the only thing that really carried through all of that was me. So I wanted to focus on sounding like myself.
R: Do you have a favorite?
M: Yeah, I really like Brown Study…it sticks out to me because I wrote the lyrics with my old roommate because he's a really awesome poet…incredible writer. That was the most fun one writing words-wise. That's something I'm always really hard on myself about…On the Nature of Things is great…that’s the one that Jack played guitar on, and it was like… in the studio, ear to ear grin. Finally.
R: If this record were a person, what would it be wearing?
M: That is a really good question. I think it would be like, hoodie under a long formal-ish jacket. that, probably black pants and some boots, and some sort of a silly hat. I think something really semi-formal with a little bit of quirkiness.
R: And what’s next after this?
M: I think I’m gonna play a show for the record release on Friday and I'm tabling at an art fair. And really the big next step that I've been working on aside from the record is getting a band together here. Like Max, John, and Eli are always down to play in my live band, but we happen to live on opposite sides of the country. Also learning how to have a set that I’d be happy with if it were just me.
…As soon as this one’s done on Friday…I'm excited to be done with it, but also I know 2 or 3 days later I'm gonna start working on the next one. I needed to learn about the process and take what I've learned to make a better one, maybe even faster. And focus on getting Mount Orange more out there and getting more people into that, because we've got a great group and all the people who play in the bands are just good people. I’d like to know more people in NY who do music.
After graduating from LC, living at home, bartending, applying for “probably 60 jobs”, Mason is living in Brooklyn working for Andrew Savage on an archiving project, all while making music in a way that is true to his voice and no longer an abstract project. The new album, These Are The Good Old Days, is out today. Go support a rockin’ LC and KPH alum and listen on Spotify!