Miami's Austin Mahone Is a Teen Dream With a Style All His Own

Austin Mahone is a teenage dreamboat. The perfectly adorable 17-year-old pop sensation went from YouTube cutie to VMA winner in almost record time. Signed to Cash Money Records, he was voted 2013's Artist to Watch by MTV and named the new Justin Bieber by everyone else. Mahone and his mom made their way from San Antonio to Miami about a year ago, and now he's thriving in the ridiculously hot Florida sun, though he says he misses Whataburger. He has 4.3 million followers on Twitter, and when he goes to the mall, preteens melt like butter at his Nike-clad toes.

But Mahone seems like a sweet kid who appreciates the adoration of his fans, whom he affectionately named Mahomies. He's careful with his words, but not phony. Mahone is rehearsing in the studio, getting his new album ready, and "working really hard just trying to get it perfect," he says. And with such support behind him and danceable pop tunes such as "What About Love," it's likely this kid is really worth watching.

We spoke with the young singer about the perks of South Florida, Drake, and whether he prefers blondes to brunettes.

New Times: What are your thoughts on Miami?

Austin Mahone: I love it. I think it's more fun than Texas, for me. Maybe it's because I lived in Texas all my life. The beach is nice. The girls are pretty. The weather's nice.

You're not a typical Cash Money artist. What's it like being signed to them?

Well, I mean, being signed to Cash Money is really cool. They paired up with Universal, and they're doing this joint thing together. It's really cool. And I get to work with a lot of amazing artists, some of the artists I grew up listening to. They're really supportive and helped me through this past year.

My editor's daughter is a big fan, and I asked her what she'd ask you. She wants to know what you order when you go to your favorite restaurant.

I usually get a pizza, because that's my favorite food. When we go to Olive Garden, I'll get the chicken Alfredo pizza, or I'll get spaghetti or something. I'm a big fan of Italian food.

She also wants to know if you have stuffed animals.

I don't have any stuffed animals with me now. But back in Texas, in my old room, I used to get so many stuffed animals in the mail. And my meemaw would put them on my bed for me. So I would sleep in a bed with a hundred stuffed animals around me.

Is there a dream person on Cash Money you'd like to collaborate with?

Probably Drake. He's one of my favorite artists, and I'd love to work with him.

What makes Drake your favorite?

For me, honestly, he's one of the biggest artists of my generation right now. He puts out amazing music. I see him everywhere. He's all over the place. I feel like his music is real. I feel like he doesn't just rap about money and girls and all that. He's actually really lyrical. He raps about real life, and I really appreciate that and respect that. So I want to do a track with him.

What are things about you that people might not know?

My favorite sport is basketball. I love to swim when I have time off. I love to go shopping. I'm a very impatient person. Like, I hate old-people drivers on the road. I think people over the age of 75 shouldn't be driving.

When you turn 18, what's the first thing you're going to do?

I'm going to start looking for my own house. Because then I'll have been living in the same condo for about three years. So hopefully by 18, I'll be making a good amount of money to where I can afford a decent house for me and my friends and build a bunch of stuff on it.

OK, blondes, brunettes, or redheads? Do you have a favorite?

I don't particularly have a favorite. But some days, I'm feeling blondes, some days I'm feeling brunettes, some days I'll be feeling another hair color. Doesn't really matter to me.

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy