Published Aug 22, 2009It's always a strange piece of business when our current trends snatch heartily from those of previous eras in an odd attempt by many to relive a past that, to be honest, they never truly knew. With soul music, for example, you don't simply wake up in the morning and decide to recreate the sounds of early Motown. Unless, of course, you're Michigan native Mayer Hawthorne.
With one of the most authentic '60s soul renaissance records to date in his instant classic A Strange Arrangement, Hawthorne has achieved on a whim what others have attempted as a serious career move, and you can thank taste-making Stones Throw kingpin Peanut Butter Wolf for lighting the man's fire.
"When I first started recording the Mayer Hawthorne songs, it was just an experiment on the side, and I was mainly focused on hip-hop," says the multi-faceted producer, DJ, and management company head. "I didn't take it very seriously [until] Peanut Butter Wolf asked me to record a full album of material. Prior to that, I didn't even have any plans to record an entire album."
From the two initial cuts that first caught Wolf's ear, the L.A. resident, who first found a taste for soul singing with rap trio Now On, has nailed his period piece exquisitely, a feat made even more impressive by the fact that it was all crafted in just six months.
"I'm definitely a serious student of the music, the kinda guy that will listen to a Smokey Robinson tune a hundred times in a row, and really try to pick it apart," he says. "But you know, I'm an indie artist on an indie label with a small budget, and I don't have state of the art recording equipment to use. I used pretty crappy equipment - I recorded a lot of my vocals for the album through a pair of old headphones instead of a mic!"