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- Posted on Mar 8th 2010 11:00AM by Jesse Ship
A white boy who can rap? There's nothing new there. But a white boy who can sing and compose vintage Detroit soul and R&B as if it came fresh from '62? There is nothing so soothing and soulful as a dose of Mayer Hawthorne's 'Strange Arrangement,' released this year. So dim the lights, curl up with your lover and get some groove on Spinner's talks with the Motown man of the hour in advance of his SXSW appearance.
Can you describe your sound in your own words?
Fun. That's the magic word. My music is like Peewee's Playhouse. But seriously, I'm from Detroit so there's a lot of Motown. There's also a lot of Chicago, Memphis and Philly, but fun is the main ingredient.
How did you start performing as an artist?
This particular project began when I recorded a couple of demos for fun as an experiment in my bedroom. I was mainly focused on hip-hop as a DJ and producer for over 10 years. I recorded a few soul demos and moved out to Los Angeles to really pursue rap music. While I was there, I ran into Peanut Butter Wolf, the president of Stones Throw Records. He was not that interested in my hip-hop, but he was looking to branch out and was really intrigued by my soul demos. He then asked if I was interested in recording a whole album based on that for his label. I had never imagined doing something like that, but I couldn't say no, so here I am.
What are your musical influences?
Anything creative. My album is called 'A Strange Arrangement' -- I like music that is catchy and strange. I listen to a lot of music across the board. You could find me listening to a whole wide range of things from Frank Sinatra, Steel Pulse, Smashing Pumpkins, Gary Numan, I love Steely Dan. There is so much great music out there.
What would you say is your biggest vice?
I spend the majority of my life thinking about food and records.
Do you have any favourite remixes off your album?
Any of the Astronote remixes are really good; he's a beast. I just got a reggae mix recently of 'Your Green Eyed Love' that I hope to release.
What's your musical guilty pleasures?
I feel like I've lost track thinking about what I should feel guilty about. I love Janet Jackson's 'Rhythm Nation;' it's just fantastic.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
I loved the princess from 'The Never Ending Story' as a kid. I've always loved Christy Turlington. I still think she's the perfect beauty.
What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced on tour?
I saw a lot of crazy stuff on tour with James Pants and his band; they're wild. I've seen his bass player puke on stage in the middle of his set and just keep going like nothing happened.
What's in your festival survival kit?
Water. The main thing is staying hydrated at these festivals. Like I said, I'm also a big food guy, so knowing where the good food is at is essential.