Strolling in with an ammunition of charm and serious Seventies style, Alton Mason at PRM Agency isn't your typical 19-year-old. After being photographed by Cecilie Harris for our online Generation Z interview series, his velvet voice rippled over the issues that the young generation face today. Optimism is nailed into his psyche and proves to be the strongest medicine against the uncertainty of life today. Reaping the true benefits of modernity, he was scouted on Instagram a year ago, and now his commute to work typically includes an in-flight meal.
Having spent his childhood living in a conveyer belt of countries, it’s no wonder that the concept of unity without borders rests at the forefront of his mind. Far from his home state of Arizona, he was exposed to unfamiliar customs and learned to find beauty in the differences. Shedding the mask that we all have to wear, he takes the time to listen to those around him with the knowledge that everyone has the value of personal experiences to share. A conscious desire to express has streamed into dance and spoken word, where he scrapes away at the superficiality of online youth culture.
The rhythm becomes his meditation, taking him into an orbit separate from the physical. It’s no surprise that Gucci took notice, snapping him up for their latest Pre-Fall campaign video, where Alton shakes his celebration of life into some pretty major moves. With an aesthetic suited to the grit of disco infested New York; he not only borrows his look from the past but his entire ethos. It’s the rose-tinted pursuit of real interaction with others that diverts away from the realms of the internet and takes to the streets. Basically, he’s the type to dance shamelessly in the middle of a subway platform.
How would you describe your generation?
I think my generation is kind of like a generation of judgement, but on the bright side the people are overcoming the judgment by coming together through social media and being aware of everything happening. We’re kind of putting a stop to it slowly, day by day. We’re definitely the generation of phones and technology, the generation of overcoming any quality.
What would you say is different about this generation than previous ones?
Well, we’re learning from many things. One thing we’re learning is how to dress, because back in the day they had such a live style. I get my outfits of choice and my style and aesthetic from the 70s and the 80s, that’s one thing that I love to learn from the past. Also, the music back then put us in a positive mood - a feel-good mood. When I listen to music today it’s like ‘okay turn up, turn up’ but it doesn’t give me the same feeling of listening to James Brown singing ‘Get Up’ or Michael Jackson.
What are the good things about your generation?
Our method of communication, but sometimes that backfires, because if I text you at three-thirty and you read the text at three-thirty two and you don’t reply. I’m gonna think we’re not friends or that you’re throwing shade. I feel like a great thing about our generation is that we’re waking up and realising equality needs to be an every day thing. It’s beautiful to see and to realise that everyone is uniting - there’s not one type of person on this planet, everyone is different, so I do love that.
What are the challenges?
If you don’t have a strong enough mind for it, you might get distracted by how many opinions there are. Challenges through our generation with social media is that many people have likes and comments and dislikes, and now by the speed of second you can say what you don’t like and that may offend someone. The criticism that we give each other and all the judgments that we place on each other just, because we don’t understand a day in the life of that person’s shoes.
Who are you?
I’m Alton Mason, you know this little boy with a whole bunch of Melanin and a smile all the time. I like to make people feel good and I like to see people smile. I feel like worrying about the negative is so temporary, because that’s just a distraction from our destiny. I make sure to bring positive energy and good vibes like you said when I walked in, I just want to exude that and I make sure I do, because it’s contagious and it sticks with people.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I’ll probably be in Cuba selling fruit on the side of a little street, with some sandals and probably this tank top and some jean shorts.
Some random Prada jeans that you probably got from a show or something, you’ll be the most stylish fruit seller in Cuba…
I’d probably be selling some type of dragonfruit or something like that.
You were recently cast for Gucci's dancehall inspired video. How was that?
When I dance, I feel like I’m telling a story to whoever’s in the room, or just to myself. Most of the time I just get lost in myself when I’m dancing, it’s like I’m just moving and sometimes I’m in a different place in my head - the temperature is different, you know? It’s like a story, a dream.
With mental health being a big topic at the moment, is that something that’s close to your heart?
Yeah, I think your mental health exudes your physical health. It’s not even like eat your greens, it’s like be happy and laugh sometimes. Make a funny face and be goofy if you want to. A part of being mentally healthy is being able to experience almost every emotion within 48 hours. I’m not an expert, but that’s just the way I see it. It definitely is something that I struggle with, because I feel like insecurity is a part of it and feeling like you’re not good enough. When you’re going to these castings and it’s like; ‘ok thank you’, and they didn’t even watch me walk or look at my book, little things like that can dig into you, so I can only imagine what someone else goes through. That’s just speaking for myself.
Do you think it’s important to talk about?
Absolutely. I think people should talk about everything that they’re feeling because someone out there can help you. We’re all in this world to help each other, if you just say exactly what it is, someone will help you because they’ve probably felt the same way before.
Is that something that your generation is good at?
No! Everyone is so infatuated with appearing like something that they’re not, and social media plays a part in that.
What do you think your generation can do to solve that?
I think what we can do is actually talk to someone that’s nothing like you. Don’t think because this guy is learning this and he listens to something completely different, that you can’t learn from him. Tell your problems to a stranger and see what they say, you’re probably not going to see them again but you just let it out. Releasing it from your body and not keeping it in your mind is a different kind of power, that’s kind of overcoming.
As gender is becoming more fluid in modern society and fashion, how do you feel about it?
I like the shift ,because it’s opening doors for people to just do them. People are tired of hiding, and hiding is not fun. Just because you feel like you’re not going to be accepted or you’re scared of what someone’s going to say. I love it, so let people do what they want to do with themselves because they’re the ones waking up and looking in the mirror every morning. Let people make their own choices, you’re not God, we’re all humans and humans are one race.
Do you think that masculinity is changing in your generation?
Yeah, I think it is and it’s really fly. Masculinity used to be very fragile and we’re kind of lifting the barriers and we’re accepting it. Back in the day it was definitely like; ‘I’m a man, I can do this by myself’, but today it’s like listen - boys do cry, it’s okay.
What is your ultimate dream?
To be in The Kingdom with palm trees behind me and I can fly, and I’m wearing.... actually I’m probably not wearing anything. That’s my dream, I’m just naked and flying, flying naked in the sky, haha. If I was to tell you at this point in my life, that’s my dream.