Lance Mascarenas writes songs and performs under the moniker The Wilt Family. The first time we caught him live he was just passing through town, but he returned to Phoenix with the intention of sticking around for a while and we think that’s pretty rad.
The Wilt Family presents pensive songwriting delivered with enough heartache to really make you believe it. He stopped by The Listening Room Phoenix to record a number for our ongoing series, “Songs from the Listening Room”.
Check out the video of The Wilt Family performing “Won’t Let Me Sleep Long” and then continue on to our Q&A with the Lance Mascarenas below…
So, please tell us a little about the song you chose to perform. When did you write it? Anything prompt its creation?
I wrote “Won’t Let Me Sleep Long” this past August while living on a very good friend’s couch, having just moved to Phoenix from the East Coast. It tuned itself in unexpectedly and very clear while I was rehearsing for a show. I had finished the music and lyrics in a couple of days, which is a much shorter time than usual to create a composition for me.
It’s a song about not being able to find what might make you whole, or content, and having no idea what that could even be. So endlessly you wish for happiness, love, or a purpose- and it never comes true, no matter how pure the intent. Whether it’s you or nature, you cannot figure it out, and your thoughts take your sleep and the possibility of truth.
Do you have a method in your songwriting? If not a formalized process, a habitual approach?
The way I work on songwriting is based on the unconscious mind. It’s never felt natural to me to ‘think of an idea’ and to try and form it. I usually start with the guitar to form a composition until it starts to imprint an image in my head. This will unsettle some memories and this is what sets the tone for the lyrics.
I write everything that comes to mind while finding the melody and phrasing, shaving off what’s unnecessary and evolving incomplete thoughts until I have something that feels complete. Then I play it over and over again, making every little detail sharp until it really feels born.
Do you try to keep to a regular songwriting schedule? Or is it a bit more haphazard? Maybe sitting down when inspiration hits or squeezing in time as you find it?
I do my best to rehearse or write every night, at least 5-6 evenings a week. Songwriting to me is a discipline and a skill to be honed. I rely much more on hard work than inspiration to complete a song. Inspiration I think is much more useful when I’m open to it beyond any task, and to let it settle quietly into my mind and to rest with the memories living there. For me, this is the only way I can think of inspiration as a tool. I like to sit at a table with my blue ballpoint pens, stare at a blank wall and wander.
Who are some of the songwriters that inspire you &/or your own work?
There are a lot of musicians and a few artists that inspire me, be it their lifestyle, work, or ethic. Right now, I think the ones I hold as sacred would be Vali Myers, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Christine McVie, Lou Reed, and Johnny Cash. I’ve also been listening to Lilly Hiatt a lot and think she’s something really special.
Any new projects in the works that we should keep watch for?
Right now I really need to start recording a proper full length album. I’m doing some research on how I can do the best job possible on my own, here in my home. I think I just need a card table and a second microphone to make it happen…