People ask me what instruments I play, and usually, I respond with, “Whatever gets it out of my head.”
Music has been an outlet for me for more than half my life at this point. I come from Chesapeake, Virginia, a place where music (let alone any form of art or entertainment) is totally underrated, never even remotely appreciated.
Bugs are really cool. I own a bunch of bugs encased in glass and you can look at them and go “Wow, that’s cool.” My favorite is a flower mantis that sits atop one of my shelves. I like how it looks. I wanted to make songs about bugs, so I did. In my opinion, you wouldn’t call a crab, a spider, or a shrimp an insect, but I’m perfectly comfortable calling them bugs. I even think I am a bug sometimes too. We’re all bugs if you really think about it.
My story starts with my Mexican parents. They eloped from Mexico City then had me in Los Angeles. Their early gift to me was a stand-up piano for kids. According to my mom, I spent most of my time on it, writing songs and playing them over and over. When I was a teenager, I was the frontwoman in a punk/indie cover band, then played in a few post-rock bands. I became obsessed with the label Thrill Jockey, and moved to Chicago because they were based there. My sister was my biggest champion—she accompanied me on the long drive. Even though she slept most of the time in the passenger seat, her love and support meant the world to me.
It first began in 2019 with the release of ‘guilt.’ There have been three releases since.
The latest release, ‘too artsy for the footy kids, too footy for the art ones,’ was released in February 2023.
It was written and recorded in my bedroom as I moved across Melbourne, Bendigo, and Canberra over the last three years. Its title comes from a line in its second song, ‘michael cera, serotonin.’ It references how I fit in socially, growing up in a country town with an interest in sports and art.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I have the language. I can talk about what a particular song means to me, or I can talk about what that drummer is doing on the hi-hat that makes you know it’s them. Music history is an easy one – I’ve devoured all the rock bios, read all the critical analysis, seen all the interviews. I eat, sleep and breathe music. So why does it feel hard to talk about?
Not to sound all new-age about it, but music is elemental. Larger than life. When I was a kid, like most kids, I was into superheroes. The bright colors, the high stakes, the every moment of a story that meant something important to the larger narrative. As I grew up, music was the only “adult” thing that felt that exciting, that vital, that universal and yet intensely personal.
For me the most important thing about music and song writing is creating community. I have spent periods of my life feeling quite isolated. In 2013 after 12 years in Brisbane having convinced myself I was excluded from the local music community, I realised I was in fact very lucky to know many musicians who turned out to be so generous and supportive they recorded versions of my songs for what became the ‘You Do It I Can’t Be Bothered’ project.
Music has always been said to be a universal language, but I don’t agree. Music has as many meanings as people who listen to it. What for us can be a sad melody, for someone from the other side of the world, it can be the happiest of songs, that’s why I refuse to believe that music is universal. However, I don’t think this is a problem, but an advantage to be able to communicate with ourselves. Art shows us the reality that we need to see.
Being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when I was around twenty-six (being honest) was a relief. I had always known. The way my brain worked was neither sustainable nor healthy. The professionals who help me think I suffered from childhood-onset schizophrenia and that I could almost function with it for whatever reason.
My stage name is Mason Andrew Freak, but everyone calls me Drew. I have lived in my car, abandoned trailers, and isolation. And all with the dream that it was for a purpose. With hope, God had a plan for me.
My short 4 track EP, “2020”, first took form before the year it’s named after before all of this insanity took over. I often think it’s best to leave a song’s meaning up to the interpretation of the listener. But, if there were an outlet to air out my thoughts of my songs, it would be here. So I’ll go through each track in the lineage of which they’re recorded and break them down.