For most of a decade, Mayer Hawthorne has been showcasing his gift for making celebratory soul music. The Ann Arbor native, based in L.A. since 2006, has a weighty résumé that includes Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Arranger and DJ. His 2013 album, “Where Does This Door Go,” found him checking off some significant boxes on his bucket list: He got to work with Pharrell Williams and other top-tier producers, and the album was nominated for a Grammy and hit No. 30 in Billboard. Recently, Hawthorne switched labels to Los Angeles indie Vagrant Records. The move allowed him to take full control of production on “Man About Town“, a record he considers his quintessential collection of tunes. Mayer sat down with Freep.com to talk aobut working with Pharrell and his new album
“The last album, “Where Does This Door Go,” was a chance for me to work with all my favorite producers, like Pharrell Williams, John Hill and Greg Wells and all these talented people. That’s the benefit of being signed to a major label and having bigger budgets. But the flip side of it was that I didn’t have full creative control. That’s the give and take of being on a major label. … “Man About Town” is really the album I wanted to make. Basically, when I was working with all those producers, I was soaking up all their tricks and techniques and then went back in on (“Man”) and did it all myself. The best way to describe it, even if it sounds weird at this point, is that (“Man”) is the most Mayer Hawthorne album yet!
“I think something I picked up from working with Pharrell on the last record was just the importance of storytelling, telling stories in the most detailed and vivid manner possible. (Pharrell and I) bonded over Steely Dan’s songs. I never realized why I loved (Steely Dan) songs so much until Pharrell put it into perspective. Their lyrics tell a story that focuses in on certain details, and I think that’s what comes through on my new record, the richness of the stories coming through in the lyrics.”