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  • Writer's pictureSophie Smith

Genre Fusing Bristol Based Band, Masca Release Debut Single, 'Unsure'

Masca promo picture for Unsure by Ania Shrimpton
Image via Ania Shrimpton

After having sold out their Bristol headline show in 2020 , with no material released we knew we'd be in for a treat with their newly released debut single, Unsure.

Watch the video for Unsure, here:

What was the inspiration behind, Unsure?

  • TINA - It’s a song about unhealthy relationships, not necessarily romantic ones, and how sometimes the force that pulls two people together can be negative, like an addiction. We wrote it and then realised afterwards that there were all these references to burning and flames in the lyrics, which is where the idea for the video came from.

How did you come up with your band name?

  • JACK - Masca is actually a place in Tenerife. We went there once on holiday and rode in to the Masca valley on a little motorbike and were just blown away with how amazing the scenery was. We were trying to think of a band name at the time anyway and it is so difficult to find a good one, we both just liked the word and loved the place so it seemed to fit!

Masca by Ania Shrimpton
Image via Ania Shrimpton

You’ve both been in musical projects before, how has that shaped Masca? What have you learnt along the way?

  • TINA - We wouldn’t be the musicians we are today without having been in those previous projects so I think it’s important to appreciate that even if you think you would have done things differently though. We’re older now, we’re more sure of ourselves and less self-conscious.

  • JACK - Being a musician is such a journey. I dread to think of some of the mistakes I’ve made in previous bands, bad attempts at songwriting, deciding to ‘have a jam’ as part of our setlist at gigs, the list goes on. I think the most important thing I’ve learnt is that you have to be an all rounder, you can’t just focus on one skill, like your instrumental playing, and expect to have any success. You need to try your hand at everything, marketing, songwriting, production etc. That’s what makes it such a hard industry but also so rewarding.

You’ve been writing together for 6 years, why was now the right time for Masca?

  • JACK - I mean, for us, the right time was about two years ago but covid… To be fair though, it gave us loads of time to write and it focussed us. We’ve got loads of songs now and quite a few recorded too. It feels like the most organised band we’ve ever been in in terms of getting all our material ready before putting anything out, which actually feels really nice!

  • TINA - Before Masca we had always been in different bands and it took a long time for those to run their course. This is the first time in our lives that our timings have lined up and both of us are in a position where Masca is our main focus which feels really exciting.

Masca straddles pop and rock, did it always start that way?

  • JACK - Yes absolutely! Our big thing is that genre is dead - the way people consume music now with playlisting and the sheer amount of choice available means that the days of mods and rockers and goths and being a diehard for one type of music are over. It’s really refreshing as songwriters. Both of us love rock and also love pop and we feel like we’re allowed to do both, if the songs are good and they sound good then that is what will resonate with people, not just whether they fit into a certain genre template.

  • TINA - Some of our favourite artists straddle both sides; De Staat for example don’t fit nicely into a genre box. We just love them because they are amazing!

Masca by Ania Shrimpton
Image via Ania Shrimpton

How did you sell out your first headline show with no music released?

TINA - To be fair it wasn’t technically our first show, we’d been doing these live stream gigs from our living room throughout Covid, not sure if they count! We thought it was mainly friends and family who were watching but way more people saw them than we realised. Miles booked us for a show at The Lanes in Bristol and I only just managed to reserve tickets for my mum and dad before they all went.

How was the recording process of Unsure? What made you go with Elliot Vaughan?

JACK - Great! Literally the best studio experience either of us have had yet. Elliot is an old friend of Tina’s from playing on a tour together with CJ Wildheart which is how we know him. It was kind of an easy choice to be honest, he’s really good at what he does and is committed to the project. Being DIY and in the early stages, it really means a lot to us when someone decides to get behind what we’re doing. We’ve both recorded with lots of different producers in the past so we really appreciate what we’ve got with Elliot, I honestly don’t know what we’d do without him!

TINA - Yea he’s sort of another band member rather than just a producer really, he gets what we’re trying to do and it’s just really fun working with a mate. Otterhead studios is a dream as well, it’s a residential studio in the countryside not far from Birmingham, great gear and loads of space. We did five days, the weather was amazing, we could swim in the river and had this amazing little apartment, honestly the best experience!

You’re both also part of Choir Noir who have sung on Bring Me The Horizon tracks, Architects and other big names. How did you get involved?

TINA - Yea Kat, who runs Choir Noir, is just a complete badass and her own project ‘Cestra’ is insanely good. I was just chatting to an old friend about getting into singing in groups a bit more and he put me onto Kat. She’d heard of my old band Soeur so I didn’t even need to audition. YES.

JACK - I just piggy backed onto that really! Luckily for me choirs are usually in need of blokes because most blokes are too busy playing sports. It’s really fun to be a part of though, that Architects session especially, listening with the headphones off and actually hearing Sam sing in the room was insane, his scream is absolutely mental.

Masca by Ania Shrimpton
Image via Ania Shrimpton

How would you like the music industry to change for women and gender minorities?

TINA - That is a big question! Obviously, I’d like for women to be more represented in the music industry but I think the change needed is pretty complicated. The music industry is a reflection of where our society is at; we reward people who work 80 hour weeks and sacrifice time spent with their families. Because of the unpaid care burden on women, especially childcare, those people are mostly men. The music industry is probably one of the worst industries for unsociable hours and sacrificing time with your family. It’s made even more difficult compared to other industries because the competition is so fierce and the pay is often low or non-existent. I think this is the biggest barrier to women in music - they often have to choose music or family and men often don’t. This is a really difficult issue to solve.

JACK - Yeah and I think it’s really important that we (as a society) don’t just say ‘this is a difficult issue to solve’ and then do nothing about it. There’s nothing inherently more musical about men than women, it’s just that the industry is set up in a way that happens to favour men. If you agree that men and women are ‘equally musical’, then the fact that there are way more men than women in music means men are being given little leg-ups and extra help which women are not being given. Realising this has made me feel way better about having quotas for festival lineups and other events. Like yea, maybe it’s not a perfect solution but it’s better than just doing nothing about the inequality. We as men need to get on board with these kinds of initiatives and understand that accepting a status quo that clearly works in our favour is kind of cowardly. I’m really excited to hear the music which comes from a music industry which has equal representation.

What advice would you give to women entering the music industry?

As it stands, you’ll have to make a lot of sacrifices and it’s really hard work. But the payoff is incredible and worth it. Stand your ground, be assertive and you will be fine.

Sink Unsure by Masca artwork
Image via Masca

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