Take Five: Masego’s Whirlwind SXSW Calls For A Much Needed Break

If you saw Masego—the rising Virginia saxophonist, singer and producer with a vibrant, carefree personality—walking around SXSW with his sax at hand, it was clear he had a ball. Aside from his infectious cheek-to-cheek grin, it was evident in his shoulder-rubbing moments with other musicians, solo sets and myriad crowd appearances during the bustling Austin, Texas fest.

Committing to a heftier amount of shows—at least seven events had Masego’s name on the bill—sounds like a draining endeavor to most, but the experience proved to be more rewarding than anything for him. He made sure to find the fun in all he attended and convey that sense of amusement to his crowds. While catching a breather at VIBE’s Artist Lounge at the Bud Light Factory, Masego chopped it up about throwing (fake) money at his shows, sipping on fancy cucumber water and not saying “no” to shows.

Masego
CREDIT: VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

VIBE: South-By has been a whirlwind for you this year.
Masego: Yes, yes it has!

Please tell me what your experience has been. I saw you yesterday turnin’ up at Fader Fort in the corner. Losin’ your mind. Throwin’ money!
Here’s the thing! I feel like I’m in the stage where I have to prove myself with every show, like everyone doesn’t know who I am yet, which makes it fun. Everything’s introductory. With that, Fader Fort, I wasn’t allowed to have a mic, so I just got creative with it. I had pre-recorded things that I had said, being triggered at the performance. I just wanted the challenge! I’m not even a DJ, but I wanted the challenge, so I DJ’ed, I got a huge crowd, and then I just played the sax for everyone. It’s all about destructing reality, and I feel like I’ve done that while I’ve been here, so I’m really happy about it.

And how’s the reception been? I actually saw you get out and walk through the crowd. You were flooded by fans afterwards.
It’s weird like that, I don’t know. You know the young folk. But it’s been good reception. I’m trying to think of what else happened with it. Everyone here has seen a show before, so the challenge is, “What can I do to make you be a part of it, make you appreciate it?” You turn everything into an inside joke. When you tell someone about the show, “Man, he was next to me! He was right next to me, he bumped shoulders with me playin’ the sax!” It just makes it a better story to tell and something fun.

Who have you already seen, or want to see, that you just wanna and enjoy their show?
Snarky Puppy. They inspired a little bit of the sound. Back in college, I first heard them and I was like, that’s somebody that I could kind of fit in with musically. I wanna see them. I wanna see Anderson [.Paak]. Gotta dap him up. I’m just gonna dap up every celebrity and then turn into one.

It’s already on the way!
We don’t know that!

Masego
CREDIT: VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

I know you’re going from place to place to place, and a lot of people don’t get breaks at South-By. How have you seen spending your downtime if you’ve had any? How many shows overall?
I feel like we’re on like nine shows maybe. We just don’t say “no” it seems! When you’re grindin’, you’re just kind like… But downtime? I just feel like we joke on each other, we just step back and enjoy the moment. We went to see Jazzy Jeff’s performance, and his was great. I brought no phone, I had a notepad and I just was takin’ notes. That’s what we’ve been doing, just watching other people’s sets and seeing like how we can tweak ours. And just joke on each other. Eat some random places, but just step back and be like “This is some good weather, I’m healthy,” and just chill.

That goes into my last question, the most important question of South-By: what food spots are lit? Where have you gone? Where is the best food that you’ve had?
I mean, that chicken taco spot in that little Fader Fort area, that took me in. I don’t know if it was because I was, like, dead hungry or whatever it was, but it’s like, everything else. I don’t know. Austin got a lot of salt in the food! Can we talk about that?!

They don’t have salt in Virginia?
I don’t know, it’s like they just dumped it on there like everybody haters in the food. But, naw, we did all the cool stuff. What-a-Burger. Stuff where you roll the R’s, I don’t know. I’ve been enjoying this cucumber water! You know what I’m saying?!

Mr. Bougie over here!
Pinkies up!

I can’t support the pinkies up, but I feel you. When are you leaving here?
I’ll put my thumbs up then. But Monday.

Oh, you’re in here for a long time!
Shows on shows. So we added two shows, like, yesterday. That’s what a turn up do!

You drinking your water?
Cucumber water! Keepin’ my thumb up!