We had the good fortune of connecting with Mason van Kraayenburg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mason, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
For me, once that creative spark activated within and I found music to be the language of my soul, there was no turning back. It gave me purpose and direction which is something I had been desperately looking for my whole life. The closest I got before music was skateboarding but with that I never felt a sense of providing for others or like I was making the world a better place. With music and the guitar I feel a much more interactive and rewarding fulfillment within me. It’s my guiding light and my little contribution to society so I’m giving myself to it completely.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Creating and performing original music is my life’s greatest passion, particularly utilizing the guitar as my paintbrush. My musical journey began in 2001 when I learned to play the guitar with close friend Bobby Levy, ultimately birthing the band Enloom together. We taught each other how to play by ear and feel, hours upon hours of blood sweat and tears forging a strong chemistry and unique sound for the band. The group is most notable for its unpredictable and experimental nature both in music and performance, known as pioneers of bringing modern instrumental genres like post-rock and math-rock to the streets of Houston. After 15 years of exploration, the band is however now on hiatus with my attention now directed towards new horizons involving the most ambitious project I’ve embarked on to date. The project I’m referring to is an original music series titled “The Heavenly Scrolls” sonically charting 88 compositions for the 88 modern constellations. It is set to be released as 8 unique albums each highlighting different genres in the instrumental music spectrum. Various musicians and artists worldwide are helping to collaborate on this series due to its diversity and scale. Currently 5 years into the project, having written close to 70 of the 88 pieces and having performed most of those live across Houston, I am only now on to the recording phase of the project. It was my intent to create this music series over three specific and separate phases including composition, performance and recording. This is because I wanted the songs to have time to breathe and be explored and expanded upon before finalizing them into their versions that would be recorded. Now that live shows are off the books, I can whole heartedly focus on recording this series and begin sharing it with the world at large. I hope to release the first album next year in 2021 followed by at least one album each year after that, so stay tuned! This would be a good time to mention “Three White Doves”, my new band formed in 2018 with drummer and childhood best friend, Joey Kosar. We’re a high energy instrumental drum and guitar rock duo that plays with our hearts on our sleeves. Currently one of the cities go to acts for touring indie bands, we’ve performed with inspiring groups including Outrun the Sunlight, Aviations, Coastlands, Howling Giant, The Human Circuit, Dead Country Gentlemen, Regulus, Granite Hands and more. We are in the process of recording our debut album which will actually be one of the installments for “The Heavenly Scrolls” music series. When things clear up come kick it with us for good times. I’ve also recently recorded a collaboration with prolific ambient artist Brother Saturn titled “Night Owls & Hummingbirds” on the latest installment of his “Tales of Space Exploration” series that you should definitely investigate.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll give you a hypothetical perfect day in Houston filled to the brim with splendor. Upon the break of dawn we’ grab some coffee, maybe at EQ Heights then liberate the soul by joining a morning Ecstatic Dance gathering igniting the senses. We then head over to Montrose and get lunch at Aladdin on Westheimer for their Mediterranean delights, afterwords meandering around the areas strip malls and thrift shops finding odd trinkets. Friends happen to be playing music across the street so we stop by Brasil Cafe on Dunlavy for a quick meet and greet and pick me up. Then I’d take them to Rothko chapel a few blocks over for down time and to recharge before heading next door and seeing what inspiring art The Menil Collection has to offer. It’s now dinner time so we go to Green Seed Vegan on Almeda for a fresh raw meal to properly energize before the nights festivities. Turns out there’s a rad concert tonight so we head over to White Oak Music Hall and let loose. A stranger tells us their doing stand up after the concert, so we meet friends at Secret Group for drinks and some comic relief. It’s late and fourth meal beckons. We now find ourselves at Mai’s Vietnamese restaurant on Milam and that concludes our tale.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It might be cliche, but I couldn’t do a shoutout without mentioning my parents Leon and Loree. It’s undoubtedly their unconditional love and support that gave me the foundation and strength to pursue my dreams. They instilled in me at a young age, and to this day, to be true to myself and to follow my hearts passions. They also taught me how precious it is the gifts and talents we have in life and how important it is to actively nurture those aspects of ourselves. In addition to their unyielding support and understanding as parents they reinforced in me these ideas through leading by example, being expressive and creative albeit in differing ways. When I was a kid my mom was always playing the piano, she’s a wonderful player and composes beautiful music herself. I think that played a big role in the shaping of my intuition and feel for music, making it more natural once I became infatuated with the guitar. She’s a naturally free spirit and her gentle guidance and open heart influenced me greatly. My dad on the other hand was intense as they come when I was young, but in a good way. He’s always been an active force in my life, taking interest and providing a helping hand throughout. For instance, he coached my soccer team for several years and helped push me athletically. It was through these more physical avenues that I first learned to enjoy expressing myself. He’s also started exploring his more artistic side in recent years, shifting from the business world into a life more focused on spirituality, which has been an inspiring venture to both observe and take part in. It’s between their unique personalities and approaches to life, I’ve been given the greatest of platforms to pursue my dreams and hopefully bring some beauty into this world. I’d also like to mention Micah Jackson of Visionary Noise. In my 20 years of musical service, particularly in the Houston area, being such a massive and diverse city, it can be daunting traversing the various music scenes and hot spots. I think they’re doing something wonderful with their hands on initiative of discovering, gathering and connecting the plethora of talent Houston has to offer into tangible events as well as providing a platform for up and coming and aspiring artists. One of the examples of Micah and Visionary Noise’ contributions to space city is the free festival known as “For The Community” which has over 15 installments I believe. I’ve personally had the pleasure of performing at “FTC” on three or four occasions and it’s been an eye opening adventure each and every time. I know with the current measures of social distancing, these experiences are all but a memory to most. Which is why I want to share the love for something that I think I can safely say we have all taken for granted. Be sure to follow them, when things bounce back I know they’ll be weaving more magic for the masses.
Featured photo by Nick Boyer