Film Courage: Harvey, you have seen so many worlds. You’ve seen the music world growing up with your Dad, you’ve seen the basketball world, advertising world, and now here in Los Angeles, which is a totally different ball game in many sense (no pun intended by the way). At the risk of sounding too cliché with this, can we talk about the dark times [in someone’s career journey] and how you can come out of them? Because you’ve seen a lot, whether it is from your own life or from other people. How do you maintain a balance, because [Los Angeles] is a very, very up and down town?
Harvey Mason, Jr.: It is a very up and down business, up and down town. You can get caught up in a lot here, specifically in Los Angeles, about the approval of other people. I think our whole industry is built on the approval of other people because you don’t get paid if other people don’t like what you do. You are literally exposing yourself everyday hoping other people like what you do and ultimately hoping people they like you. That’s dangerous to a person’s psyche, to their personality. It is almost better that we lived somewhere else and didn’t have to deal with that. But it’s just the reality of art, right? It’s subjective. And you’re not going to be successful if people do not give you their approval and say “I want to buy that record or that painting or that sculpture or that film, whatever.” So that’s the dangerous part. That is when it gets dark is when you don’t have enough success to support your…your…not ego…but just not enough support to feel good about yourself and you start doubting your art or your passion or “is this what I’m supposed to be doing, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it?”
“If anybody told me that they didn’t like what I did, I took it personally and I would go back to work. I would sit in my studio at the time which was in a bedroom and I would just bang on my keyboard and make another track. And then do another one….and “Nope, don’t like it”…. do another one…get better…get better. I would really take a competitive approach to it. I was an athlete and to me it was like “I have to beat the next person.” So rather than start doubting myself or questioning myself, I took people at their word.”
A funny thing is, that is a part of Buster Moon (from the movie SING). There’s a part in the movie where he talks about that and that’s so real and so true. It pertains to anybody who has ever moved to LA to try to make music or try to be an actress. It can test your will, it can test your dedication. A lot of people give up and they don’t make it. I don’t have the answer on how to push through it other than believe in yourself and continue to try and improve.
If anybody told me that they didn’t like what I did, I took it personally and I would go back to work. I would sit in my studio at the time which was in a bedroom and I would just bang on my keyboard and make another track. And then do another one….and “Nope, don’t like it”…. do another one…get better…get better. I would really take a competitive approach to it. I was an athlete and to me it was like “I have to beat the next person.” So rather than start doubting myself or questioning myself, I took people at their word. It’s probably not good enough, let me get better. And I think that served me well and I still try to do that. When I’m doing a project, in the back of my mind, there are people I’m thinking about that I want to do better than and other people who I want to hear this and I want them to be mad because I did such a good job and other people I want them to be proud that I did such a good job. So that is definitely a constant motivation for me.
Film Courage: You can even see in SING that some of them [the characters] have a few chips other shoulders and that this is not really a bad thing. We always hear that [having a chip on one’s shoulder] is a negative thing but it could actually be good to have it because it’s a driving force and if you don’t you’ll get pummeled?
Harvey Mason, Jr: I don’t know. Different people have different ways of coping and dealing with it. Some people make music or make art just for themselves and they’re happy with that, forget what everybody else says and I’m just doing this because I love it. This is one way of doing it. I just chose to be very competitive and I have kids. I want my kids to be proud. I want to leave a legacy after I’m done. I want people to think I did good work. I want to be able to lay down at the end and say “Yeah. I’m happy with what I did. I’m happy with what I’ve left behind.” I think art is a really important part of our culture and our society and if I can create anything that lasts beyond my life, I think that will be great. Not to get too philosophical but some of that is my motivation, it’s not just about sitting in a vacuum and making music that pleases me. I’m trying to do things that might affect other people in a positive way.
QUESTION: What motivates you, money, achievement, personal growth, recognition or the work itself?
Watch the trailer to SING here on Youtube
About Harvey Mason, Jr.:
For the past twenty years, Harvey Mason Jr. has not only penned and produced songs for both industry legends and today’s superstars including Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown, but he has been instrumental in producing music for many of the biggest musical films and television shows of the past decade. Everyone from Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls, Whitney Houston in Sparkle, to the eclectic cast in Pitch Perfect, and Mary J. Blige and Neyo in The Wiz Live! have called on Harvey to deliver music of the highest standards for blockbuster musical productions.
Harvey was born in Boston, Massachusetts where his parents attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Harvey’s father, Harvey Mason, Sr., is a noted jazz drummer and founding member of the group, Fourplay. Mason Jr. grew up in Los Angeles where he tagged along to his father’s recording sessions with the likes of Quincy Jones, Carole King, The Brothers Johnson and Herbie Hancock. Harvey wrote his first song, “Love Makes It Better” for Grover Washington, Jr. at the age of eight. Besides being a gifted musician, Harvey was also a gifted athlete and attended the University of Arizona on a basketball scholarship and played in the 1988 Final Four with teammates Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr.
Harvey’s first success came when he wrote the song “Truthfully” for Brandy’s 1998 release Never Say Never. He then joined forces with Rodney Jerkins’, Darkchild Entertainment, and continued to write and produce hits for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. In 2000, Mason Jr. formed the production company, The Underdogs, whose first hit was Tyrese’s “I Like Them Girls”. They continued to top the R&B charts with hits for B2K, Marques Houston, Ruben Studdard, Joe, Avant, and Omarion. Harvey topped the charts in 2009 with the number one hit, “No Air” with Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown and again in 2012 with Chris Brown’s “Turn Up The Music”.
In 2006, Harvey produced the soundtrack for the movie musical Dreamgirls. His work on Dreamgirls was the first to produce three Oscar-nominated songs from the same film in the same year. In 2008, Harvey Mason Media produced the major motion picture More Than A Game documenting the incredible journey of LeBron James’ high school basketball team. The movie garnered a second place People’s Choice Award at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival behind the film Slumdog Millionaire. Harvey also composed the score to the film and served as executive producer on the soundtrack Music Inspired By More Than A Game released on his label Mason Music through Interscope Records. In 2012, Harvey was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the song “The Living Proof” with Mary J. Blige featured in the movie The Help. Sadly, he was the last producer to work with Whitney Houston when he produced the songs “His Eye On The Sparrow” and “Celebrate” for the movie Sparkle. Later in 2012, Harvey produced all of the a cappella vocal performances for the hit film Pitch Perfect featuring Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick. In 2014, he produced the music for Get On Up, the film about the life and music of the legendary James Brown. Harvey again joined with the cast of Pitch Perfect with the addition of Hailey Steinfeld to produce new a cappella hits for the movie’s 2015 sequel. In the summer of 2015, Harvey arranged and produced all the legendary NWA music for the theatrical release of Straight Outta Compton. Most recently, he wrote and produced music for the top rated NBC broadcast of The Wiz Live!. Currently, Harvey is in production on music for the animated film Sing from the creators of Despicable Me and Minions to be released later in 2016.
Harvey proudly serves on the National Board of Trustees for the Recording Academy and serves as co-chair of the Producers and Engineers Wing and the Advocacy Committee. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for his Alma mater, the University of Arizona. Harvey donates his time and resources to several charitable organizations including GRAMMY in the Schools, MusicCares Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, the American Cancer Society, and Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. Harvey received the Spirit of Excellence Award in 2012 by the T.J. Martell Foundation for his philanthropic efforts.
“Hi, Mom!” Zooppa has partnered up with T-Mobile on a brand new project! T-Mobile gives its customers unlimited data and texting in over 140 countries and destinations—at no extra cost. T-Mobile wants to inspire those customers to travel and get off-the-beaten path—to be explorers, not tourists—and unlock adventures they can share when they take their phones. The ‘Hi, Mom’ project focuses on sharing the most extreme moments of adventure outside of the United States with family and friends back at home.
The project is open for submissions until February 21st, 2017 at 4:00 PM PST. There are $40,000 in total cash awards available that will be assigned to the top eight videos chosen by T-Mobile. In addition to the cash awards, all winning videos will also be featured on T-Mobile’s social and web platforms or as a part of a compilation celebrating adventurous moments from around the world.
THE WEEKEND SAILOR is a new feature documentary about the unexpected victory of the Mexican yacht Sayula II in the first crewed sailing race around the world in 1974. The most demanding sailing quest in history.
Sailor, Ramon Carlín visits his rebellious son, Enrique in the United Kingdom and comes across a magazine advertising a sailing race around the world. Although he had been sailing casually for two years, Ramon embarks on this race and brings his son along as an opportunity to not only teach him discipline but real life experiences as well.
Catch 22: based on the unwritten story by seanie sugrue: With Hurricane Sandy looming on the horizon, five hard-lived friends come to from a send-off celebration alongside an unexplained dead girl. What are friends for?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT): Zooppa and Nickelodeon are inviting filmmakers and motion graphic artists from around the world to reimagine TMNT on a global scale through depicting what they are up to in various home towns or cities. The goal is to show how the Turtles would come to life in any given location, using local city or pop culture influences to help tell the story. Zooppa and Nickelodeon are looking for imagination and creativity, the videos made should be a fun way to share Turtle stories from across the globe––authenticity is key!
The project is open for submissions until February 23rd, 2017 at 4:00PM PST. There are $25,000 in cash awards available to the top 10 videos that will be chosen by Nickelodeon.