I’m super excited about our guest today – Harvey Mason, Jr. But before we get to the interview, I’m sharing something personal that has been a long-running experiment around my use of shampoo and soap.
I don’t use any.
Nope. No soap. No shampoo.
Did you make a face? Even for a moment? You wouldn’t be alone. The idea still makes me cringe, too. Ew, stinky, right? But the crazy thing is I really don’t stink – and there are enough people around (including my wife) that would be more than willing to let me know if I did. In addition, my skin and scalp have never been cleaner or in better shape (though I still have minor bouts of dandruff).
It’s been a two-year process of experimentation that I originally began to see if I could get rid of my dandruff naturally (since nothing else worked and I hated using super strong shampoos). Discovering that shampoo wasn’t really necessary led to researching and experimenting with soap alternatives. I’ve tried a lot of different combinations of ingredients over the years. Currently, I use apple cider vinegar (diluted) for my hair and a three-part oil mixture for my body (olive, castor, and coconut).
My point in sharing this really has nothing to do with soap or shampoo use. The point is to encourage you to be an experimenter – don’t take anyone’s word on anything. Want to know the impact of intermittent fasting? Try it out. Want to know if sprint workouts work for you? Do them. Want to know if dirt will work for toothpaste? Hmm, well, you need to be the judge of your own experiments, but sure, you could try that, too!
And now… on to the podcast.
Harvey Mason, Jr.: From the Hardwood to the Studio
We’re joined today by songwriter, music producer, film producer, and athlete Harvey Mason, Jr. His work has been nominated for Grammys, Oscars, Golden Globes, and AMAs, so if you’ve listened to the radio or watched a movie in the last twenty years, chances are you’ve heard the work of this mastermind. Working with superstar talent ranging from Michael Jackson to Chris Brown to Whitney Houston to Beyoncé and collaborating on some of the biggest musical film and television shows makes for some wild stories, and Harvey certainly delivers.
Despite his immense success in the business, music was actually on the back-burner for a big portion of Harvey’s life. It was more of a hobby than a life pursuit. His parents were musicians and he began piano lessons at a young age. His gifts were evident early on considering he wrote his first song with the guidance of his father at age nine.
Harvey was also a gifted athlete, though, and locked in on basketball as his sport. While still making music in his spare time, he played scholarship ball for the University of Arizona Wildcats under legendary coach Lute Olson, even sharing the court with baseball legend Kenny Lofton and current NBA champion coach Steve Kerr.
Once his time on the court had passed, Harvey used that same competitive energy and training discipline to form the foundation for his approach to music. He strove to become the best version of his creative self and perfected his craft through daily practice at songwriting and producing.
Once he “made it,” he naturally took on the role of leader. Just as sports teams need a leader on the court (as well as a coach), a music producer is the leader in the studio. Every day spent in the studio costs thousands of dollars, so the producer needs to be able to coax the creative process out of the artist by whatever means necessary, while staying on schedule and budget.
Though he’s not playing basketball at an elite level anymore, his competitive drive still manifests itself in CrossFit workouts and community-based workout programs he leads with friends. To give you an idea of how intertwined his passions are, Harvey has an actual gym inside his recording studio (check out the first photo in this article for proof). His diet is also worth modeling – he sticks to Paleo principles and credits his sobriety for giving him a competitive edge.
Check out Harvey’s music production in the Oscar-nominated Straight Outta Compton, and be on the lookout for the animated picture Sing, coming from the creators of Despicable Me and Minions.
- The competitive side of working out, specifically with CrossFit’s daily challenges.
- Benefits of community-based workout programs.
- Harvey’s many job titles in music.
- Differences between the role of a music producer and a music producer for film.
- Every day in the studio is thousands of dollars, so you need a leader among the chaos.
- Walking the tightrope between coaxing the creative process and staying focused and on budget.
- Growing up in a musical family, his parents were musicians and had him taking piano lessons at an early age.
- At nine years old, he wrote his first song with the guidance of his father.
- The evolution of his working relationship with his dad.
- Music composition is all about the layers, much like baking a delicious cake.
- The nuts and bolts of producing a music track.
- What comes first – music or lyrics?
- Harvey credits his strong parental influences for learning how to focus, sacrifice, and set goals.
- Playing NCAA Division I basketball, winning the Pac-10 multiple times, and going to the Final Four.
- Harvey’s transition from sports focus to music focus, courtesy of an ACL injury.
- How technology has changed what constitutes a demo track.
- Harvey’s intentional approach to writing music that comes from an athletic background.
- Working on Brandy’s Never Say Never record was an “I’ve hit it” moment.
- Dealing with the paparazzi fiascoes that flock to certain studio artists.
- Thriving under pressure, collapsing under pressure, and various approaches to different artist’s needs.
- Harvey sticks to the paleo diet, along with his daily morning shake.
- Using his sobriety as a competitive advantage since college.
- Spending quiet time thinking on what you want to achieve, so you can determine what you need to do.
- Harvey’s call to advocate musicians, and the ways audiences can help.
Note: Harvey’s morning shake ingredients are frozen kale, apple, protein powder, coconut water, BCAAs, mocha powder, hemp seeds, bee pollen, vitamin D powder, and glucosamine.
Movies, Books, Songs, and Links Mentioned:
Harvey Mason Media – Harvey’s company for film, record, music, and website ventures.
The Wiz Live! – Billboard piece on Harvey’s contributions to the live airing of The Wiz on NBC.
CrossFit – Workout program of varied functional workouts, performed at optimum intensity.
Clean and Jerk – Instructional on performing this Olympic weightlifting move.
Press Handstand – Instructional video on the art of the press handstand.
Woodway Arc – The self-powered manual treadmill.
My Power Supply – Locally grown chef-prepared food, directly to your door.
Progenix – Nutritional supplement company with a full line of products, including protein powder.
Lute Olson – USA Today feature on Harvey’s college basketball coach Lute Olson.
Steve Kerr – Insight to Harvey’s former teammate and his “back to the basics” principles.
Kenny Lofton – Another teammate, who switched sports to immense success on the baseball diamond.
Steven Pressfield – Author of The War of Art and Turning Pro.
Walter Isaacson – New York Times review of his Steve Jobs biography.
Quincy Jones – Musician, composer, and producer Quincy Jones’ autobiography, Q.
David Ritz – Author of Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin.
Sammy Davis Jr. – In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr. by Wil Haygood.
Wheelin’ on Beale – How Wdia-Memphis Became the Nation’s First All-Black Radio Station.
Muscle Shoals – Documentary about the legendary Alabama recording studio.