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Courtesy of Jeremy Dupetat

Mayer Hawthorne: Makin’ music and havin’ fun

The R&B artist will bring his energy to The Blue Note on Monday night.

By Colin O'Brien | Sept. 14, 2013

Tags: Concerts Downtown Columbia Music

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When: 8 p.m. Monday Where: The Blue Note Tickets: $18

Anyone who has heard the work of Mayer Hawthorne can attest to the fact that he likes to have fun both on stage and in the studio.

In a phone interview with MOVE, however, he says his newest album, Where Does This Door Go, is “The most ‘Mayer Hawthorne’ album yet.”

“It’s quite a bit different,” Hawthorne says.

Perhaps that has something to do with the creative process the Ann Arbor, Mich.-born, LA-based artist created for this album.

“I threw all the rules away, all the structures, and the only rule I had was that I had to have fun,” Hawthorne says. “I don’t only listen to motown and soul music, you know. I’m inspired by Steely Dan and The Cars and Black Sabbath and J Dilla, and so all that stuff should be a part of my music.”

His work is a behemoth: a mix of genres and styles that, on the surface, seems like it wouldn’t work. Hawthorne turns this assumption on its head, though, keeping his music enjoyable and, of course, fun.

“That’s the cool thing,” Hawthorne says. “I have yet to find someone who can tell me what genre it is. It’s a rare and awesome thing.”

Another reason for the album’s rule-abandoning, groundbreaking sound is the appearance of Pharrell Williams, one of Hawthorne’s collaborators on Where Does This Door Go.

“You know, the people I work with — I don’t work with them because they’re famous,” Hawthorne says. “I work with them because I really, truly think they’re great.”

And work with them is exactly what he did.

“I sort of took a back seat on this record as far as production went, and I brought in all these amazing producers for the first time,” Hawthorne says. “It was a very different experience for me, but one that made me a much better producer myself. It was awesome.”

Hawthorne’s fans know that a major part of his songwriting in his first works was the theme of heartbreak, whether it be the giving or taking of it. When asked about heartbreak and its role in the new record, he says it’s a theme that he’s now trying to avoid.

“Actually, that was kinda the only other rule I had on this record,” Hawthorne says. “I couldn’t have any bitter breakup songs. It was just time to do something new. And the songs on this record are (written in) more of a storyteller style, much more like coming-of-age stories about being a dumb, wild kid.”

“These songs are perfect for college,” Hawthorne says. “They relate to me being in school and wanting to party.”

Though he’s never been to CoMo before, Hawthorne is excited for his first visit.

“I can’t wait,” Hawthorne says. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

In the end, Hawthorne is just having a good time, and enjoying the ride on which his career takes him.

“I’ve been really, really lucky,” Hawthorne says.

That’s true. How lucky would we be if our only rule was to have as much fun as possible?

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