Mesonjixx’s music has influences of R&B, jazz, and soul, with a whole lot of heart mixed in. Growing up, she says she drew a lot of inspiration from listening to different artists her parents played around the house, such as Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. As her musical interests developed, she started listening to more jazz and reggae, and eventually started producing her own.
The name Mesonjixx (Mee-son-jixx) was born in 2014 when Mary Elizabeth Jo Dixon Lawson cleverly combined different letters of her name to represent her musical self.
While Mesonjixx started out as a solo venture, it has grown extensively. Over the years, Lawson built around the project and says she has been fortunate to work with talented musicians from Lincoln and Omaha, including Myles Jasnowski, Nate Asad, James Fleege, Jacob Sorenson, and John Evans, just to name a few.
In 2017, Mesonjixx (the group) recorded their first EP in Omaha at Make Believe Studios. In the Middle features the songs “My Body,” “In Motion,” and “On Repeat,” as well as the title track.
Recording that first EP, Lawson says, felt like a weight being lifted. “With any type of thing you’re creating, it is really nice to let it go instead of holding on to it. I am learning to let things go.” She says the experience taught her that while change is constant and exciting, it’s also scary. Learning to believe in herself has helped her get through the scary parts.
She says her creativity doesn’t necessarily strike during big life moments. Sometimes lyrics just come to her during band practices. “In the Middle” and “My Body” were written during a rehearsal. She says often she’ll start writing a song on the keyboard, or an idea will strike while the band is just jamming. From there, she’ll collaborate with her bandmates to improve the lyrics and melody. But as Mesonjixx grows and changes, Lawson says she is trying to challenge herself more creatively by getting inspiration in different ways.
“It just depends on where I’m at and what experiences I am pulling from,” Lawson says. While with the previous incarnation of the band, she says, “I was in a very romantic and blissful time in my life and so I was pulling from those experiences. The newer songs [such as “Pele” and “August Manchester”] in my set are a little cryptic and mysterious. It still has this empowering vibe to it, but it is a little less accessible.”
Writing about love and romance can be a great source of inspiration for Lawson; however, writing a song that tells a story about someone else requires her to test her creative skills. The new songs will be released next year. She hopes her audience will listen to their stories and visualize who these people could be.
Currently, Lawson says, live Mesonjixx performances are the most gratifying part of her career because she gets to share the stage with talented musicians. She adds that it is especially rewarding to see people in the audience singing along to her songs during shows, which is a recent development.
In May, Lawson says she had one of her most memorable performances with one of her favorite local R&B artists, CJ Mills. Mesonjixx and Mills performed together at Mills’ farewell show at Reverb Lounge. At the end of the show, several other female vocalists came onstage and improvised lyrics with the two bands.
Seeing others challenge themselves creatively in that way is really inspirational for Lawson. She says she hopes to collaborate even more with other musicians in the near future.
For her, creating is an act of fearlessness. “I hope they [the audience] come out of listening to [our] music feeling a little bit more empowered—feeling encouraged to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable and strong. And fearless.”
For more information, visit mesonjixxmusic.com.
This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Encounter.