Photo gallery of Mayer Hawthorne at Webster Hall in New York City, with interview (March 4, 2010).
After the first stop of his U.S. tour, which kicked off Thursday, March 4, in New York, Mayer Hawthorne, a.k.a. Drew Cohen, talked with us — complete with a husky, post-gig voice — about his move to L.A. and some of his favorite music and songwriters.
How are you finding L.A. after your move from Michigan?
I love L.A. I don’t want my people in Detroit to feel that I don’t have love for Detroit anymore. I love Detroit, but I’m having a really good time in Los Angeles right now [laughter]. It’s really nice out there.
What is it that’s so seductive? The weather? The people?
The weather does not hurt, I will say that. When you wake up and it’s 80 and sunny every single day, it feels pretty darn good.
What part of L.A. do you live in?
I’m in West L.A., the Westside, so I can be close to everything but still get to the beach. I feel like if you live in Los Angeles, you better be going to the beach, because, you know, otherwise, what’s the point?
How do you think L.A. is going to affect your sound on your next record? Your sound is very Detroit.
Yeah, it’s definitely very Detroit. But I don’t know. Obviously Detroit has a huge influence on me and my music and everything, but there’s also quite a bit of L.A. in there, and Philly and New York and Chicago and Memphis. I think Detroit and L.A. are similar in a lot of ways, which explains the kind of symbiosis that goes along with those two cities. So many Detroiters end up moving to Los Angeles, and I think it’s because the hustler mentality is still there, but it’s not as aggressive and fast-paced as it is in New York; it’s more laid-back, like Detroit is. I think that’s why so many Detroiters end up out there in L.A.
I saw the whole Blue Note family in the audience tonight. Do you want to talk about that at all?
Right now there’s really nothing to talk about. That’s family right there, for sure. Eli [Wolf] is the homeboy; he’s been a big supporter forever of Mad Lib and Peanut Butter Wolf. Eli’s the coolest.
Would you like to be part of that “family”?
I would love to record for Blue Note. It’s a label that has an unbelievable amount of class and history. It’s just so well-respected. I have a million Blue Note records at home. I’m a big vinyl collector. Some of my most treasured albums are those Blue Note classics.
If you could get Lamont Dozier to write with you, would you be very excited about that?
I’d be super excited. I got a chance to meet him. He came to USC and did a little talk, and I got to chop it up with him for a sec, and he was a perfect gentleman. He’s just one of my absolute heroes in life and possibly the greatest songwriter of all time. He’s right up there.