Verum Magazine, January 2012
Mayer Hawthorne represents Detroit better than the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, a show he offered to sub in for Nickelback this past year. Recording his albums in his apartment in downtown Motor City Mayer came to prominence on the strength of his initial indie release A Strange Arrangement in 2009 on Stone’s Throw Records. Since then Mayer has been busy working on his follow-up which dropped late 2011. How Do You Do is a solid development for a new artist with a unique sound. Verum recently had a chance to catch up the soul singer.
Verum: What was the process of putting How Do You Do together compared to your last work, A Strange Arrangement?
Mayer Hawthorne: I went back to Detroit to record the majority of this new record. A lot of it was that dirty Detroit soul. Basically I just set up my own little bedroom studio in downtown Detroit. I played more of the instruments myself on the new album. Everything is definitely elevated on this album. The playing of the instruments is better, I learned to play better. I also learned a little bit more about how to sing so I hope people notice that on the album.
Verum: How do you keep your sound constant from playing the instruments to having a full band live?
Mayer Hawthorne: Well it’s all about the guys I have playing with me. My live band The County is pretty much all guys I grew up with in Detroit. We’ve got one or two guys from L.A. It’s all about my guys in my band. They’re my favorite musicians and they’re all handpicked by me. A lot of them like me grew up in Detroit so they all know the vision.
Verum: Tell us about your relationship with Detroit.
Mayer Hawthorne: I wrote a song about it (A Long Time). I did a whole video based on The New Dance Show which was a show I used to watch everyday after work. I’m going to continue repping for the D always, it’s a fantastic city.
Verum: Tell us about your unique style
Mayer Hawthorne: I’ve always had the motto “flashy but classy. That was always been sort of my thing. I always wanted to be original and unique and stand out from the crowd but I was always brought up to keep it classy. That’s really what the formula is for me. I really borrow from and I’m influenced by everything that I see.
Verum: How does your music follow that motto?
Mayer Hawthorne: It’s definitely about being original and unique and doing something new and moving the music forward and not taking it back. The same goes for style.
Verum: What’s new on your latest album?
Mayer Hawthorne: This new record I really feel like I found my Mayer Hawthorne sound. It’s obviously very soulful and its rooted in Detroit soul music but it incorporates all the other styles of music that I grew up listening to and love like hip-hop and Jazz and Surf Rock and New Wave, all those things are blending together now are blending together to create that sound, It’s exciting.
Verum: Was it important to you that you carve out a new sound on this album?
Mayer Hawthorne: Absolutely, it was very important to me to not just be a derivative of anything. I hate when people say ‘lets take it back to the good old days. I don’t want to take it back to the good old days that shit drives me nuts. Let’s make the new good days and those that move t forward and do something new for our generation.
Verum: How did you enjoy your time at Stones Throw Records?
Mayer Hawthorne: Working with Stones Throw was fantastic. Those guys are all so much fun and they’re just really creative and that’s what I’m all about. We got along really well. I’ll always put on for Stones Throw.