Two years ago, Leah Marie Mason catapulted herself onto the country music scene with her debut single, “Far Boy.” Millions of streams later, she followed with her almost equally viral sophomore single, “I Wish,” which cemented the North Carolina native’s slot as a rising star to watch.
Though she enjoyed that success and the foundation those songs laid for her, Mason admits that same success and attention hindered her opportunity to full realize who she was as an artist. Now, two years later, Mason has put in the work behind the scenes and returned with a clear vision of her next musical chapter, which she has encapsulated in the release of her debut EP, Honeydew & Hennessy.
We caught up with Mason to talk all about Honeydew & Hennessy, growth, taking her music on the road and more!
Pro Country: The last time we talked, you had just released “I Wish.” Since then, both “I Wish” and your debut single, “Far Boy,” have earned millions of streams across platforms and catapulted you onto the country music scene. Now two years removed from those releases, how do you look back on the success of those two songs and the foundations they laid for your career?
Leah Marie Mason: I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish independently and the audience those songs have allowed me to build. I think they were really important stepping stones, but I’m truly excited and passionate about the music I’ve been making the past year or so. I entered the music industry so abruptly, I didn’t really have time to discover myself as an artist fully, and it was honestly really hard to navigate having so much attention on me for the first time in my life. In all honesty, I’m not even sure I was ready for it, but I am grateful it happened, because it’s led me to where I am now. I’m writing the best songs I’ve ever written and working with people I never thought would know my name because of everything that’s happened the past two years, so even though I’ve evolved so much since those songs were released, I’ll always be able to appreciate them and where they got me.
PC: You’ve released a handful of singles in your career, but your new EP, Honeydew & Hennessy, serves as the first collection of songs you’re releasing. Why did you feel it was the right time in your career to release an EP, and leading up to release day, how much were you looking forward to presenting music that way?
LMM: I feel like this past year has been a lot of self-discovery as an artist, and I really wanted a full body of work to showcase what I’ve been working on and going through, which I feel is fully encapsulated in Honeydew & Hennessy. It truly is a new era for me, and I’m so excited for my listeners to finally have a cohesive collection of songs to listen to.
PC: You released “Trust Fund Cowboy” last October. What went into the decision to release “Trust Fund Cowboy” as the first single from Honeydew & Hennessy and have it serve as the introduction to the project?
LMM: This was the first song that I felt best bridged the gap between what I was doing and where I am now as an artist. I feel like it eases you in and is a great introduction into the musical world I’ve been creating over the past few months.
PC: “Holy Water” was the second release from Honeydew & Hennessy prior to its release, and its blues/R&B melody was sonically different from anything you had released previously. How important is it for you to pay homage to your diverse influences? What did the streaming success of the song tell you about that approach?
LMM: I grew up listening to all genres of music. I remember my parents playing everything from Ella Fitzgerald to The Beatles to Led Zeppelin. I even played in a 70s rock band myself when I was 10-13. I think genre lines are so blurry nowadays, I don’t really even consider it when I’m writing. I just kind of write for myself and don’t worry too much about where it fits on the spectrum of things. The streaming success really speaks to the fact that music doesn’t need to fit any niche category to do well. Good music is good music, and that’s what I care about more than anything.
PC: “Honeydew & Hennessy” opens the EP, and you’ve said that it was a pivotal song for you and your artistic identity. What does “Honeydew & Hennessy” say about the artist you want to be, and why did you feel it was the right title track for the EP?
LMM: I think it was one of the first times I had written without thinking about anyone but myself, which was such a freeing feeling. I really do think you make the best music when you’re making it for yourself first and not trying to cater to an audience. I knew I loved this song the moment I wrote it; it felt perfectly nostalgic, emotional and poetic, and was just very me. I’m really proud of this song, and Honeydew & Hennessy is just too cool of a title to not be heard more than once.
PC: You co-wrote “Me Or My Hometown” with Jason Reeves and Nelly Joy after a sobering trip back to North Carolina. Can you take us in the room and talk about the emotions that went into the song and how it came together?
LMM: I remember going into the room that day really wanting to go with this idea, but I could sense some hesitation, just because the “hometown” thing can lean a bit cliché. That being said, once I told them more of the specifics and more of what was going on inside my head, they were super on board, and we wrote the song in under an hour, which is pretty crazy since it was our first time writing together. It was such a special day, and this song is probably one of the more personal ones I have on the EP.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Honeydew & Hennessy after listening all the way through?
LMM: I just hope it makes them feel something. Maybe everything: sad, angry, powerful, hot. I feel every emotion very deeply, and I really believe that comes across in this project.
PC: Along with promoting Honeydew & Hennessy, what do you have planned for the rest of 2023?
LMM: I’m going on my very first headline tour, which is so exciting! I’m doing a quick little three date run in May, and I’m so excited and so happy that I finally get to be out on the road and meet some fans in real life!
*Images by Preemo*
*Leah’s music is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**
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