Masego is excited to be talking about his instrument, an African saxophone named Sasha. "She was born in Zimbabwe where a lot of saxophones are produced because of the dark metal found there. She's just travelled though different eras where she was played by the best people. She's now in my era so I'm playing her right now," he explains from Los Angeles where he is currently working on new music.
The time-travelling sax even has her own Twitter account. Her motto, "Only play on songs that make women twerk". "If you follow her you'll realise that she's really loud and really independent," says the 24 year-old Virginian who wears a miniature version of Sasha on a necklace.
Masego is making a name himself with his expressive music that's been dubbed 'trap house jazz', a style that blends Southern beats with more classic jazz elements. The self-taught saxophonist, pianist, singer, and producer began to make waves in 2015 when he and Sasha teamed up with Dallas based producer Medasin on Pink Polo, an EP that mixed jazz and future sound beats and integrated elements of house, soul, and hip-hop.
He has since collaborated with GoldLink, Louie Lastic, Abir and SiR, and recently celebrated his birthday by releasing "Navajo," a woozy love ballad produced by JLL, that had Masego rapping about an old college relationship. "It was a very interesting and complicated relationship. Like a lot of the stuff I've absorbed over the last five years, it came out randomly through music."
Masego was born in Jamaica to an American mother and Jamaican father. His father was a pastor in the military and the family moved frequently when Masego was younger, finally settling in Newport News, Virginia, where the young Masego was involved in the church and gospel music.
The country feels like a burning house but I'm kind of on the outside having a block party.
Though he reps Virginia, Masego says that he felt removed from the recent racist violence that erupted in Charlottesville. "To be honest I've never been to that part of Virginia. I have no idea what's going on over there. It's like a different culture and a different way down there. The country feels like a burning house but I'm kind of on the outside having a block party. Things are burning but I can only put love out. I can only involve myself in a positive vibe. There' a lot of weirdness going on but I try to distance my self from it."
Masego remains relatively positive when asked how he feels about the current political climate. "I feel that the internet makes things tenser than they really are. I'm black so I've been getting eyed by cops my whole life. It depends on what you allow to filter in. My father loves to watch the news, I don't. I like to produce music and put it out and hopefully it can help people through whatever crisis they have. I try to remain positive and hopeful through music."
YouTube has taught me more than anything, I learned how to tie a tie, and all my pick-up lines come from YouTube reruns of Fresh Prince.
Largely self-taught Masego says that he runs on instinct and in the studio sings and plays from the heart. "I learn things myself. I call it YouTube University, YouTube has taught me more than anything. I learned how to tie a tie, all my pick-up lines come from YouTube reruns of Fresh Prince," he laughs.
Masego says the Los Angeles culture is starting to flavour his music with Japanese and Spanish phrases creeping into newer songs and the environment helping fuel his creativity. "The West Coast really allows you to understand who you are. You come across so many talented people you have to look back at yourself and see what makes you unique."
Still, Masego's approach to music remains fun, positive and relaxed. "I'm blessed to have a studio at my house and it's there for me to make music when I want. We can go hiking or go for a walk to get some food and then make a song by the end of the day. That's what I love to do and I feel very lucky to be able to do that every day."
NOISEY presents Masego Australia tour:
Nov 16 - Sydney at Hudson Ballroom
Nov 17 - Tocumal at Strawberry Fields Festival
Nov 18 - Adelaide at Rocket Bar
Nov 25 - Perth at Sets on the Beach
Tickets and info through Astral People.