Mayer Hawthorne On His ‘Fun’ Album, Working With Pharrell And His Advice To Danny Brown


Mayer Hawthorne just wants to have fun. The bespectacled singer is prepping to drop his third major label release, Where Does This Door Go, on July 16th led by the single “Her Favorite Song” featuring Jessie Ware (sort of). Mayer spoke to VIBE about why this album is different, genre labels and his advice to Danny Brown about groupies. –Sowmya Krishnamurthy

You’ve said that Where Does This Go, more so than your previous work, came out of your desire to have more fun. Are you having more fun in your life?
I threw every rule I ever had before out of the window and I decided that the ONLY rule was going to be that I had to have fun. The record had to be fun. I’m having the most fun that I’ve ever had in my life.

Is this because you moved to L.A.?
I think it’s just a general attitude of you know, whenever there’s a decision to be made, I go with the way that is most fun. You feel that way when you’re here. There’s California in the new album.

How did your collaboration with Jessie Ware, “Her Favorite Song,” come about?
Uh. That was a song that I came up with pretty much…I recorded like over 45 songs for this record and I had gotten to a space where I felt like I had done everything. I went into the studio, thinking I had done it all, and decided that uh, all the pressure was of. Then that was what came out. Jessie was cool enough to lend her vocals to the song. I linked up with her in L.A. when she came to do Coachella recently. She’s actually not featured on the song as it has been reported by the Internet. She just came in to do some extra vocals, some additional vocals. She wasn’t actually supposed to be featured.

Why are people saying she’s featured on the song then? Did some intern mislabel the file?
Uh, well. Not to bash all journalists, but lazy journalism is what it is.

Pharrell is on your album. How was that experience?
That was an incredible experience. Pharrell is a creative force. He’s one of those guys like Rick Rubin. When he’s in the room, it makes you more creative. It was really a pleasure to work with him and I can’t wait for people to hear what we came up with.

Pharrell is like Rick Rubin… but with flawless skin.
[Laughs]. Yeah, I guess. Without the beard.

You’re friends with rapper Danny Brown. Did you two speak about that groupie fan that sexually uh, serviced him onstage recently?
We did and my only advice to him was to just be careful. Have fun. I love that. Nothing makes me happier than how much fun he’s having but I did give him a friendly reminder to just be careful.

Everyone categorizes you as “nostalgia R&B” or “old school.” Does that bother you?
I honestly don’t care what people are saying about me as long as they’re saying something about me. Um, I know everyone is going to label you as something. I don’t care if they want to call it “Acid Dubstep Fusion” as long as they’re talking about me. Call me whatever you want. Call me “Shirley.”