Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who is Mayer Hawthorne?

In the event that you have not yet heard of Mayer Hawthorne, we at The Showbiz Kids wanted to make sure that our readers were aware of this extremely talented and retro-sounding, soul artist.  Mayer Hawthorne (born Andrew Mayer Cohen; February 2, 1979) is an American singer, producer, songwriter, arranger, audio engineer, DJ, rapper and multi-instrumentalist currently based out of Los Angeles, California.  Hawthorne’s sound is certainly reminiscent of some of the great music from the golden era of Motown and Soul, while remaining fresh and new as is evident on his  2nd studio release, How Do You Do.

Cohen took his stage name "Mayer Hawthorne" from a combination of his middle name (Mayer) and the name of the street he grew up on in Michigan (Hawthorne Rd). "Mayer Hawthorne and The County" is a name Cohen often uses when performing or recording as Mayer Hawthorne with other artists.  According to Cohen, "The County" is basically anyone who plays an instrument or sings on his album and “The Country” is also his band when he performs live. 

In addition his solo career, Cohen also performs and records hip-hop under the name “Haircut.” His DJ name, “Haircut,” is an ode to his childhood. He would get upset and throw a tantrum every time he had to get a haircut as a child, so his parents would take him to buy a record to take his mind off the trauma.

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan,  Hawthorne moved to Los Angeles in 2008 and was eventually signed to Stones Throw Records by label head Peanut Butter Wolf.  Originally, the Mayer Hawthorne tracks were meant to be just side projects for pleasure, but upon hearing them Peanut Butter Wolf insisted they be made into an album.

Mayer Hawthorne draws influence from the music of Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Leroy Hutson, Mike Terry, Barry White, Smokey Robinson and the legendary songwriting and production trio of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, and Edward Holland, Jr. (known collectively as Holland–Dozier–Holland).  His debut album, A Strange Arrangement was released on CD and Vinyl on the Stones Throw Records imprint on September 8, 2009.

Discussing How Do You Do, Hawthorne says, "I found my own unique sound on this album, which I'm excited about." The album has a vintage sound, which involves twelve '70s inspired tracks, filled with orchestral pop and funky bass lines—"I've taken what I can from the classic heroes of soul and updated it with the music I grew up listening to and loving like Public Enemy and Juan Atkins and Cybotron." Despite Hawthorne's jazz sound, he first found his musical voice in hip-hop and rap from his father, who plays in a band in Detroit, Michigan.

On July 15, 2011, Mayer Hawthorne was a guest, along with famed Memphis/Stax Records keyboardist Booker T. Jones, on Episode 43 of Daryl Hall's "Live from Daryl's House" Webcast. Hawthorne, Hall, and Jones combined with Hall's house band on "Strange Arrangement," "No Strings," "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out," and "Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'" as well as the Hall and Oates classics "You Make My Dreams Come True" and "Private Eyes." During Hall's dinner for the group, Hawthorne stated that, when working as a hip-hop DJ, he began recording his own Motown-style tracks to avoid paying fees for sampling other artists' work. He also played all the instruments on each of those tracks, in addition to recording all his own vocals.

Mayer Hawthorne and The County were musical guests on the Conan O'Brien Show on October 17, 2011, and the David Letterman Show on October 25, 2011. On both shows, the group performed their first single from How Do You Do entitled "The Walk."

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