Interviews
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Interview: Mayer Hawthorne

on April 17, 2010, 12:01am

If you haven’t noticed, Consequence of Sound enjoys sitting down with its share of artists. Mark our words: We’ll take any chance we can get to sit down and discuss music. It’s sort of our “thing” and we have no qualms in doing it.

Recently, CoS had the chance to sit down with charismatic up and coming soul singer Mayer Hawthorne after his set in SLC opening up for Passion Pit. He gave us an interesting perspective on today’s music scene and what it all means. We talked everything from hip hop to cheap cruise ship imitators.

Here’s how it went down:

Well, first things first, you guys killed it out there. I was very impressed. How long have you been doing this?

Well, I’ve been making music and doing shows, performing, my whole life. But I just started doing this, this Mayer Hawthorne thing like just over a year ago. This is definitely my first, like, foray into being the lead singer. The frontman. I’ve always been the DJ or the bass player or the drummer or something in the back, you know? So this is brand new for me.

Yeah, I had read that you had been doing this project, so I was impressed at how well you can work a crowd given your relative newcomer status, you know?

I kind of had no choice but to learn quickly, you know? It was just like dive in the sharks and start swimming. I was on the road touring before my album even came out.

You kind of had a whirlwind year in 2009. You dropped that album and it made all kinds of best of lists and just praise all around. I mean, from cool places, too. From like Snoop Dogg and Ghostface, to like, Lily Allen and John Mayer. How does that feel to be getting praise from such prestigious artists?

It’s cool, I mean, it’s totally surreal, but you can’t really think about that shit or you’ll go crazy. It’s dope, you know, and I’m really thankful because for the most part, the quote unquote “celebrities”, high profile people that have spoken out about my music have all been people that I really respect. It’s like everybody that I would wanna be working with, so, you know, I was juiced. It’s great because, it’s all been artist that are really creative and pioneering themselves, which is something that I’m all about. Being innovative and pushing the envelope; doing something new.

The New York Times called you an “expert imitator” as well as a “performer”. What are your thoughts on that?

Well, it’s definitely not about imitation for me, but innovation. So I don’t know.

So, you’d say it’s all authentic, then?

Well, I don’t know, I mean, it’s all fun. I know that. It’s all me.

And that’s what it’s all about, essentially. You do have a very unique style. I mean, I haven’t heard contemporary stuff like yours except for like, in a casino or on a cruise ship. You know the cheap imitators I’m talking about. I mean, obviously you guys are leaps and bounds ahead of those guys, but that’s the only comparison I can come up with.

Well, yeah we’re ahead of those guys because we’re doing something new. We’re actually moving it forward rather than doing the same old stuff.

mayerhawthorne 187x260 Interview: Mayer HawthorneYou grew up in Detroit, right? Would you say that a lot of your influences come from that Motown finesse?

Well, yeah I grew up in Ann Arbor, 20 miles west of Detroit. And most of it was before my time, but the history is still there, the legacy’s still there. Even some of the people are still there. And it’s something we’re really proud of, that legacy.

So do you take a lot of those individuals and use them as influences?

Of course. You know, like Mike Terry, who’s my favorite arranger of all-time. A cat named Herman Weems who I just got to meet recently. Lamont Dozier, Holland Dozier Holland, Smokey. I just got to do a show with Smokey Robinson, actually. It was amazing. Totally nuts.

You mentioned DJ-ing earlier, what did that entail?

Well you heard our Biz Markie tribute during the set, I love to see how many hip hop head are in the house, ‘cause I’m a hip hop head, myself. I’ve been DJ-ing hip hop and producing rap music for the past ten years of now.

You’re playing Coachella this weekend. Who are you most excited to see/meet?

I’m excited for that whole thing. I’m hyped to play with Gary Numan. That’s who I’m most excited to see. Gary Numan is the shit, yo. One of my favorites out there. I don’t know how many people I’ll get to meet backstage or whatever, but I’m playing day three, so the De La cats are cool and they’ll be there that day. Phoenix is playing that day, too, and I’d like to meet them, I don’t know them. I really liked their record. Miike Snow will be playing with us too. I did a show at SXSW with them, and they were really cool.

What you’re doing has been called a revival of that funk/soul scene. Where do you think it’ll go? Do you think it’ll catch?

Man, I don’t really know. I mean, I can’t call anything but me. I know I’m gonna catch, and I’m gonna keep writing good songs and doing what’s important, which is having fun. And you know, hopefully people will keep having fun with me. And I’m gonna be making all kinds of music and putting all my influences out there. All I can guarantee is that I’m gonna keep doing it big. I really hope that the revival of good songwriting sticks. Honestly, I could care less about the revival of a genre. It’s all about songwriting. I hope people continue to be creative and make something new and keep making good songs. I’m trying to make timeless music, so people can dig for my records in thirty years like I’m digging for records from thirty years ago now.

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