dreamcastmoe, AKA Davon Bryant-Mason, is sitting comfortably in Heat Da Spot Café, one of his favourite places to get food in Washington DC. As a native who still lives in the city, he’s convinced there’s no better brekkie joint in town. “They do everything here!” Bryant-Mason says proudly, tilting his webcam towards a tasty-looking breakfast bowl – one of the American and Ethiopian café’s most popular dishes.
But Bryant-Mason isn’t just a foodie. It’s been an exhilarating few years for the singer-songwriter, producer and DJ who, since 2017, has established himself as one of new-age R&B’s most prominent voices. His music is soulful and grounding, emotional without ever feeling saccharine, and sometimes even fit for the dancefloor. Today marks the release of Bryant-Mason’s Sound Is Like Water — Part 1 mixtape, a four-track collection of dreamy late night jams subtly influenced by jazz and hip hop.
“Are you ready/To let your hair down?/Ride me steadily/If you take over, I just might drown” he pines on RU Ready, drums and cymbals gently simmering in the background. Meanwhile, the introspective Complicated shows off Bryant-Mason’s vocal ability as he pleads for things to be that little bit easier: “I don’t wanna take it/So complicated/I said”. If you hadn’t guessed already, he’s a romantic at heart.
Though still at his versatile and contemplative best, Sound Is Like Water ushers in a new era for Bryant-Mason – one where he feels more secure in his artistry and musical ability. “I take myself more seriously now,” he says. “I have to believe that I deserve to be at this point in my life. Living in general can be traumatic sometimes. Putting music out might make somebody’s day. I didn’t even think I’d make it here! I didn’t have a passport until I was 25. Now I’m bringing everyone along for the ride.”
10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
I was born and raised in Washington DC, and I’m still living there. I’ve been able to travel over the last five or six years, but I always end up coming back.
20% Do you think you’ll stay forever?
I know for sure that I’ve always wanted to raise a family here. As much as this city is overpriced, there’s so much rich Black culture here. Even though it’s the capital of America, they don’t really show people on the news that DC is historically a Black city. It was called the Chocolate City for years.
30% What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
Love. I’m definitely a lover. I’ve had moments in life where I’ve valued relationships and connections with people more than my own art. I think we can be so focused on ourselves sometimes, that when we do meet somebody we want to share a life with, that takes precedence over anything else. As I’ve gotten older, I now realise there has to be balance. A lot of my songs also deal with grief I’ve experienced and how to move through that wave of emotion. The lows of that versus the highs of love. Music brings me back to a good place.
40% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
It’s in you, not on you. It’s not about the outfits that you wear, it’s about who you are, your story. That’s been instilled in me for sure, and I’ve held it close to my heart.
50% What’s the most pointless fact you can share?
I just learned that if you want to flip an omelette in a pan, all you have to do is take the pan’s cover and slide the omelette onto it. When you put the pan back down and flip the top over… You’ve got yourself an omelette.
60% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
I’m big into food! Before I was able to pay for my rent with music, I was working in kitchens and restaurants. But definitely steak, if they eat meat. If not, maybe a vegetable curry with chickpeas and mushrooms, some spice and white rice. And I’d lay the table with a little bit of wine.
70% You rule the world for a day. What went down?
I would bring Brittney Griner home from Russia. I don’t think anyone should be in prison over weed. I’m obsessed with basketball and that story’s been really tough to hear about. If she were a male athlete who had weed oil on them, she’d be home by now.
80% If you could travel back in time to see an iconic music act perform, who would it be, and in what era of their career?
Jimi Hendrix when he used to play guitar for The Isley Brothers. They’re one of my favourite bands and apparently he used to tour with them, before he was a superstar. I’d have also loved to see Duke Ellington in his prime – he was from DC and had such resonance in terms of how he pulled everything together. Everyone was so well dressed. He put so much money into young Black musicians and started so many careers.
90% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
Eating late. Saying that, I’ve had so many great conversations over late meals, and food tastes great after 3am…
100% Love, like hate?
I love getting a really cheap croissant and espresso when I’m travelling. In America, that costs $15. I was in Verona recently and ended up in this random little bakery where they served these fluffy ass croissants and a shot of espresso. I was like, this is breakfast! I like when people aren’t afraid to talk their shit. I hate people with Twitter fingers who never say anything in public. Keyboard warriors. I won’t say much online, but in person, I’m gonna show love. All that fake internet shit, I’m not with that. My personality is felt when we’re in the same room.