Talent search winner back for a taste of Main Stage
HE'S wearing his jeans backwards, a stubby cooler as a bracelet and bright red Christmas socks to tie it all together. Eighteen-year-old Mason Hope is not only a rising musician but an advocate for expressing difference.
"I make it a fact in myself that I will dress differently," he says.
Mason believes strongly that throughout history every society has been afraid of difference or change from the skin colour of Aborigines to the actions of the LGBT communities.
He says difference isn't something you should be afraid of - it should be embraced.
Mason has been able to spread his message for acceptance through his music.
His song "Cool" will appear on his latest EP which he planned to release at the Muster but will be pushed back for another couple of months.
"It's a song about embracing difference," he says. "It's like the anti-cool song its about not sticking to the stereotypes of the world and being yourself."
Mason is returning to the Muster's Main Stage after winning the Gympie Music Muster Talent Search competition last year.
His prize included being flown to the Norfolk Island Country Music Festival where he represented Australia and won the competition for Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year in May.
Mason will have his hands full during the Muster with ABC news crews documenting pieces of his life and people he'd like to thank after the media took a shine to the Sunshine Coast artist at the Byron Bay Bluesfest earlier this year.
Mason has also performed at the Caloundra Music Festival, Horizon Festival, Tamworth Country Music Festival and Urban Country Music Festival where he was crowned The Voice of Urban last year.
Mason has played supporting slots with some great Australian artists including Russell Morris, Christine Anu, The Black Sorrows and Travis Collins who is also performing at the Muster.
With the vocal likeness of Dave Grohl and a modern-day Elvis, Mason has always felt a form of comfort on stage.
"I never really thought of wow I'm up here because I always really thought I always should have been up there," Mason says. "I can sing to a few thousand people on stage but I can't present a school project in front of about 12 classmates, I'm that kind of person."
Mason's love for music began at age five when he first picked up the drums but now is close to a professional drumming level.
He later began playing the guitar for more of a challenge at age 10. He says he always remembers the story his grandmother told him that he used to be a tapper and couldn't help but tap everything in sight. Mason has been raised by his grandmother Liza since he was less than a year old.
"Dad left and moved to Adelaide. Mum stuck around but got ill and wasn't able to take care of me," Mason says.
The tough road continued for Mason as he entered primary school and was constantly physically and verbally bullied.
"I got into a couple of fights, it was a bad time in my life from grade 4-7 which was pretty harsh," he says.
His grandmother Liza says the bullies used to torment Mason saying that his father hates him and that's why he won't speak to him.
"They'd known how much he'd been through because he didn't have his parents in his life, why they would be cruel on top of that was beyond me," Liza says.
Mason believes that although some schools are more aware and proactive when it comes to bullying there are some that still need to pick up the pace. Mason has found his own way of combating this issue through helping kids as a National Ambassador for Headspace and founding member of the Maroochydore centre after joining at age 11 inspiring hope as his name suggests.
"I had a pretty hard situation when I was younger and I always found helping others would help myself in a kind of way," Mason says. "I guess I had that kind of mentality and I joined the headspace youth engagement committee at the time."
His grandmother says joining the committee made Mason feel like he was contributing and being respected, something he never felt at school. Mason is currently rejoining the committee again this year.
Not only was Headspace a platform for Mason to help others but also gave him the opportunity to perform his first live gig at the Headspace opening at Maroochydore.
Mason now entertains at three to four gigs on the Sunshine Coast each week while simultaneously completing his certificate four in music theory at TAFE and possibly a diploma in music performance next year.
Unlike many artists Mason one day wants to tour the world and sell CDs but most of all he says he wants a sustainable career that will support a life and a family in the future.
Mason's presence on stage will undoubtedly be noticed with his unmistakable Elvis inspired quiff hairstyle and matching side burns but those in the crowd with an eagle eye may spot the more eccentric aspects to Mason's appearance.
Playing at Muster
Saturday, August 27, Muster Club, 10.40- 11.40am
Sunday, August 28, Main Stage, 12.45-1.30pm