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Interview:
Home is where Mayer Hawthorne's heart, and music, is
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Mayer Hawthorne hasnt been on stage in Detroit for a while.

But hes certainly been around town.

The Ann Arbor-raised R&B singer (real name Andrew Mayer Cohen and a former member of the hip-hop group Now On) recorded much of his second album in Detroit, in the bedroom studio of an apartment he rented in downtown Detroit.

It was off Third Street, pretty close to downtown, says Hawthorne, 31. I wanted to be right in the heart of it. I wanted to make sure that I captured that essence of that Detroit soul, so its still very rooted in that.

That said, Hawthorne adds that fans can also expect to hear a lot of my other influences coming through on this record. Youre going to hear more of my affinity for Steely Dan and the Beatles and the Byrds and the Hollies and the Doobie Brothers probably some Public Enemy and N.W.A., too.

It just happens kind of naturally. Its not something I kind of really have to plan or orchestrate. I was making rock music and hip-hop long before I was making soul music, so those influences automatically come out in everything I do.

The new album, which Hawthorne plans to release in 2011, will also feature guest appearances by Snoop Dogg and Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey; Hawthorne returned the favor to the latter by recording a track for Coffeys forthcoming album. And unlike his critically lauded 2009 debut A Strange Arrangement, which spawned the hit single Just Aint Gonna Work Out, Hawthornes next release will be put out to accompanying expectations.

But he says hes not feeling the pressure.

I played a couple of the (new) songs for my close friends recently, he says, and the reaction, which I thought was hysterical, was that, We didnt think youd be able to beat A Strange Arrangement. Even my closest friends didnt think Id be able to top it. They were reluctant to admit they thought the new material was better. So Im feeling good about it.

Its definitely my favorite material Ive recorded to date. If everybody likes it as much as A Strange Arrangement, then fantastic. If not, thats OK, too.



Mayer Hawthorne, Macpodz and 14kt perform Thursday, Dec. 23, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 at the door. Call 3130833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.



Web Site: www.majesticdetroit.com

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