Willy Mason (born 21 November 1984) is an American singer-songwriter. He is the son of Jemima James and Michael Mason, both folk singers who - according to Willy - have influenced his music. When Mason was five, he and his family moved from New York to West Tisbury, Massachusetts on the island of Martha's Vineyard. He attended West Tisbury Elementary School and Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, where he participated in several local bands such as Keep Thinking, Cultivation, and Slow Leslie.
Mason's popularity rose after Sean Foley, associate of musician Conor Oberst, discovered his music on a local Martha's Vineyard Radio broadcast. Oberst would soon sign Mason to his new record label, Team Love and release his debut LP. Since then, he has toured with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Kweller, Unbusted, and Radiohead and played such venues as the Glastonbury Festival, South by Southwest, and the Offshore Ale House.
His first commercial release was a five-track EP, known as the "G-Ma's Basement EP". This included solo acoustic recordings of "Live It Up", "Hard Hand to Hold", "Waiter at the Station", "Not Lie Down" and "Oxygen". The CD was sold during 2004 live appearances and on the internet.
In the summer months of 2004 Willy and his brother Sam travelled to Old Soul Studios in the Catskills, New York to record the debut album Where the Humans Eat. Recording sessions were mostly live, in no more than three takes, featuring Willy's guitar and vocals, and Sam on the drums. Minimal overdubs of guitar, bass and other instruments were added later. The album was released on Conor Oberst's Team Love label in the USA in October 2004, and by Virgin Records in the UK in February 2005. Where the Humans Eat and its singles ("Oxygen" and "So Long"), charted in the UK Singles Chart and Albums Chart in 2005.
In 2004, he toured the United States, driving and sleeping in a diesel-powered camper van. In November of that year, it broke down in Death Valley. He paid a local mechanic $1500 to repair the van and flew to England for some scheduled tour dates. Upon his return he found the mechanic's garage locked up and the mechanic himself long gone. The van was tracked down to a street parking space a couple of blocks away, missing most of its key components, including the radiator. The engine block itself was sitting on the sidewalk. In an April 26th, 2006 radio session, Willy says he is hoping to invest in a 15-passenger school bus.
After many live appearances throughout 2004 and 2005, culminating with a performance at the Glastonbury Festival, Willy took some time off and returned to the family home in Martha's Vineyard. He began writing new songs and put a band together, featuring Nina Violet on viola and backing vocals, and Zak Borden on mandolin. In the spring of 2006, he began touring the USA and Europe with Nina and Zak, amongst other musicians. So far this year he has supported Beth Orton, KT Tunstall, Radiohead, and Sondre Lerche.
Willy released his second album, If the Ocean Gets Rough, in March 2007. Willy provided vocals the track Battle Scars on The Chemical Brothers album We Are the Night.