Richard Mason and Laz have come a long way together since the ninth grade Hialeah High School science class where they first met. “I was in a talent show and Richard saw me perform,” Laz remembers. “He convinced me to join the chorus and we’ve been singing together ever since.”
The duo lasted longer than most teenage couples, and after high school the two continued to focus on songwriting and performing. In 2011, by then known as the Night Runners, Mason and Laz caught their big break when they became finalists on the first season of the Fox's reality competition, X Factor.
But more than the exposure received, the pair was most grateful for the lessons they learned during their time on the show. The group had the opportunity to be mentored by Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, but it was the words of songwriter and the show's vocal producer, Claude Kelly, that really stuck with Laz. “He told us content is fine and dandy, but if you don’t push them, those songs will just be sitting in your room.”
With that advice in mind, the Night Runners have been conscious not to oversaturate the market. The band has been promoting its first video, “Single,” for nearly two years and are working hard on the next single “Gone with the Wind,” which Mason describes as “a ballad with a hip-hop feel that plays with the themes of heartbreak and loss.”
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During the recording process, Mason usually writes the structure of a song on the piano and records it as a demo in his home studio in Hialeah. He then brings it to Laz, who splices it up and dissects it. The two then drive up to Lake Worth where their producer Zach Sharp helps them add the finishing touches in his studio.
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Like many emerging acts, they’ve also moonlighted writing songs for other artists. They wrote a song called “With You” for One Direction. “They loved it,” Mason says. “But the label wanted to go with someone else.” So even though One Direction never ended up recording the song, The Night Runners still enjoyed some runoff success for having written for the world-famous band of boys.
“Within a day we had 300,000 views,” Mason says. As a result of that viral success, the Night Runners got the opportunity to open up for Carly Rae Jepsen in front of 50,000 people at the Pride Festival in Washington, D.C.
The Miami duo's next confirmed show isn’t until next year when they plan to go to Austin for South by Southwest. Until then they’re going to keep working on their craft with plans to release “Gone with the Wind” in the first quarter of 2016. “We’re always working,” Laz says, “trying to learn the business.”