Mayer Hawthorne On Making Steely Dan Sexy & Getting Schooled By Pharrell
Mayer Hawthorne makes no apologies for the fact that his new album, Where Does This Door Go, sounds nothing like his previous two records. At a concert on the eve of the album’s release (July 15), the soulful Michigan native showed the breadth of himself — his hip-hop background, his love of ’70s funk and Steely Dan, that soaring falsetto of his. All just a hint of his new release, which features production from Pharrell, among others.
“This is a very special night,” Hawthorne said from the Bowery Ballroom stage. “Tonight I have a brand new album that comes out worldwide in two hours. It is definitely a celebration in this mother f*****.”
And he wasn’t lying. As the smell of pot engulfed the room, his fans danced and bobbed their heads throughout the entirety of his set. Many sang along to the soon-to-be-released tracks and at times he conducted the room in a sing-along, outstretching his arms while teaching them the lyrics to his new material. They seemed to be receptive to the new sounds, despite what Hawthorne may think otherwise.
“This album is very different from my previous two records,” he recently told Radio.com. “Some people are not going to like that. Some of my fans that have been following, sorry guys.”
He added, “I could never go back and do another A Strange Arrangement [his debut album]. It would be impossible at this point.”
A huge fan of Steely Dan, Hawthorne wanted Where Does This Door Go to reference the ’70s smooth jazz-rock duo — only, you know, with a bit more sex. To achieve this, he acted in a way some might find counter-intuitive: he added hip-hop beats, 808s and drum machines.
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