Mayer Hawthorne Talks Beautiful Women, Motown, and Yacht Rock

Mayer Hawthorne is a Michigan-bred dude with a genuinely soulful sound. Undoubtedly, Motown influenced the young singer's timeless melodies. His falsetto vocals can sometimes sound straight out of 1971. But this producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist is making original tracks on Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw label in 2011.

Hawthorne will open for fun funk masters Chromeo at the Fillmore Miami Beach on September 20 before closing out the night with a DJ set at Bardot. Crossfade spoke with the artist about beautiful women, some of his favorite musicians, and what influenced his upcoming album How Do You Do.

Crossfade: Growing up near Detroit influenced your music. If you could sing with one Motown artist who would it be, living or dead?

Mayer Hawthorne: I would have to say Gladys Horton from the Marvelettes, she's one of my favorite singers of all time. I just think her voice is really unique.

Which artist at Stones Throw do you most admire or listen to? 

I'm a big fan of James Pants. I love James Pants. His music is really strange and creative, but it's still funky and dope.

Does any one thing or series of things inspire your lyrics? 

Mostly beautiful women, that's the main inspiration for my music.

No heartbreak or anything like that? 

No, it's mostly just sexy girls.

That seems like somewhat of a traditional musician's inspiration. You're not a trained singer, do you ever have points when you ever feel weird about not having been trained? 

It was difficult for me at first for sure, but I think I'm past the point of being uncomfortable with singing onstage. But I will say that I'm very much still learning, every  time I sing, I learn a little bit more about how to be a better singer. I will always be trying to learn and be a better vocalist.

You've played instruments on past tracks? Will you be doing the same on How Do You Do? 

I played the majority of the instruments on A Strange Arrangement and I think I played even more instruments on the new album. I definitely have gotten better at the instruments I play, too. Hopefully, people will notice that on the new record.

Is there any change in the sound on How Do You Do from past albums? 

Absolutely, without a doubt, there's a definite change. I think it's important to always be moving the music forward and progressing and doing something new. I've never been the type of artist that wants to take it back to the good old days, I'm always about moving the music forward and doing something unique and different. So, yeah, the new album is still very soulful, it's soul music, but I called it How Do You Do because I think it's more of an introduction to my real unique self and to incorporate all the styles of music that I love and not just soul music.

What other styles does it incorporate? 

There's definitely some yacht rock on there, there's some surf rock, and beach pop. There's maybe some new wave on there, there's definitely some hip hop on there. There's reggae, there's all kinds of stuff, jazz, Frank Sinatra. Definitely, the Beatles, it's all combining, it's all blending with the soul music to make it more of my own unique thing.

What were you listening the most when you were making the album? 

I was listening to a lot of Steely Dan, a lot of Michael McDonald and also Gary Numan, also new artists like Tokyo Police Club and Twin Shadow and Dam-Funk.

What can we expect from your live show? 

A live show is exactly that, it's a show. And I think that's the difference between my show and other people's shows is that we really, when you come to see Mayer Hawthorne, it's an actual show it's not a concert. A lot of artists get up there and play their songs but we play the songs obviously, but it's a real show and we make sure the crowd is involved. We work insanely hard to make sure that when you come to see Mayer Hawthorne, you never want your money back.

Is there anything about Miami that sticks out for you, anything you've enjoyed here? 

Besides the beautiful women, Miami's got really good food, and I'm a big food guy, I'm definitely looking forward to eating Cuban sandwiches and stuff that Miami's really good at.

Mayer Hawthorne, opening for Chromeo, presented by LG Ones to Watch. Tuesday, September 20. Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The babymaking begins at 9 p.m. and tickets cost $27.50 plus fees via livenation.com. Call 305-673-7300 or visit fillmoremb.com.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

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