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Cynthia G. Mason

How would you describe your music?

Suzanne Vega crossed with Iron and Wine. Quiet, melancholy vocals with finger-picked acoustic droning.

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

"I've mostly been the primary songwriter for lyrics, vocals, and my guitar part. My musical collaborators would come up with the rest of the instrumentation.

On my self-titled album, the producer had other musicians come into the studio to improvise on my voice/guitar part. On ""Quitter's Claim,"" my musical partner Larry Brown came up with his guitar part, to play along with my vocals/guitar. We recorded most of that one live into a four-track.

I made the business/marketing decisions on my earlier recordings and Dan from the High Two label made the business/marketing decisions for ""Quitter's Claim."" "

Describe your gear.

Martin acoustic guitar with Sunrise pick-up.

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

I think it is so much better for women now. Young girls are forming bands and being introduced to the mechanics of making pop music at a younger age. When I was in high school, I was one of the only girls playing in a band, and I didn't know anyone else who played electric guitar. I liked being "one of the guys," but it was sometimes lonely. There was also more pressure for the women in bands to be attractive, to be the lead vocalist, to be the token whatever. In the nineties, it seemed like every indie rock band wanted a girl to play the bass, even if she sucked. These days, it seems that there are more women who are in bands who can play their instruments, and if they can't play all that well, they are not afraid to be punk rock about it and take risks onstage. However, I still think there is more pressure for women musicians to be attractive and flaunt their sexuality as part of their act.

Related Themes: Onstage Off The Clock

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

"See above.

"

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

I got a lot of encouragement along the way from friends and the local music community. I wish I had gotten more advice, though. The music business is brutal. Showcasing for labels is brutal. Schmoozing is brutal, and I'm not good at it. My advice is that it takes a lot of determination as well as a whole lot of luck to do well. So, practice, play shows, "network", etc. I think networking is probably the most important thing if you want to make your way through the music industry. Most of us have to keep our day jobs along the way, so try to find a day job you like so you're not completely miserable. Unless being miserable fuels your creativity. : )

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

My uncle would come in from Santa Cruz to visit the family. He would walk around the house in the morning, with his acoustic guitar, improvising the most wonderful finger-style tunes. I would wake up to his music. I couldn't take my eyes off of the guitar. My parents bought me my first classical guitar when I was seven.

Related Themes: The First Time