INTERVIEW: Jason Mraz
An artist renowned for his heartfelt tunes and affable stylings, Jason Mraz is a unique success story, transcending decades and permeating a volatile industry with effortless charm and boundless passion. From busking in New York to winning Grammy Awards and touring the world, Mraz may have tasted the dizzying highs of fame armed with his laid-back stylings and melodic whimsy; but perhaps his ultimate achievement is an unwavering drive to share his love for music and optimism on a global-scale, and it's this endeavour that presents front and centre on his upcoming sixth studio album Look For The Good due out this Friday June 19.
Taking a trip into a career-long love of reggae music, Look For The Good finds Mraz painting with new sonic shades, diligently exploring the style while mixing vintage and modern thematic influences into two distinct halves on the album. And while all the hallmarks of Mraz's sunny melodic disposition shine through on the upcoming release, Mraz also further expands his drive to inspire real-world change and positivity, renewing his own musical inspiration while also gifting a particularly timely thematic reminder to look for joy and silver linings in the world around us.
Previously sprinkling elements of his reggae affection throughout his career to date, from the offbeat rhythmic charm offensive on I'm Yours to the staccato lures on his recent 2018 album Know, it's little surprise to find Mraz finding new creative waters with the fully-fledged culmination of so many pursuits on Look For The Good. And today just before the brand new album drops later this week, we grabbed a moment with the man himself to chat writing, life's joys and being 100% happy where he is right now. Interview below.
LOOK FOR THE GOOD (JASON MRAZ)
TIANA SPETER: Hi Jason! So lovely to chat today, it’s been such a wild rollercoaster so far in 2020 for all of us - but you’ve forged ahead through the chaos to whip up some musical beauty, ultimately leading up to your brand-new album Look For The Good due out June 19th. It’s obviously not your first album rodeo, but how does it feel to be so close to release with this latest endeavour?
JASON MRAZ: It’s an election year in the US, so I knew 2020 would be an engaged year. I did not expect the level of intensity we have reached but I’m glad America is waking up, protesting, and giving itself an education. Music can provide support to all of that.
TIANA: This time round we really get a glimpse into your love for reggae. And I believe the album actually stemmed initially from a little side-project collaborating with Michael Goldwasser…was there a moment during this process when you realised this life-long passion for the genre was suddenly forming the foundation for a new album? And how did it feel to actually bring this passion to fruition?
JASON: Michael and I worked together for about 6 months before bringing in a band. We knew we had some good songs and great ideas. But when the band starting playing the songs we finally got to hear it – and it was bigger and better than I’d imagined. We spent two weeks with the band rehearsing, then recording, then ending the session with a backyard gig to see if our friends and family would like it. And they did.
TIANA: And from a writing perspective, did the album come to life easily? Was it ever a challenge to stylistically dip a few of your toes outside of your previous material? Or was it just an organic experience overall?
JASON: Writing felt easy – because we were searching for good things, and ways to sing positive messages for 2020 and because we gave ourselves a deadline. I also had help from Raining Jane & Abby “MC Flow” Dorsey, some remarkable female artists.
TIANA: You’ve also previously said that this album has made you feel renewed and excited… have you always relished getting outside of your “comfort zone” creatively?
JASON: Each album begins as a blank page with no sound. It requires a lot of work, a lot of thought, a lot of organization and collaboration. I have to stretch myself and learn things. That work always feels great in the end.
TIANA: You’re an artist who has never been afraid to sonically explore and evolve for decades now…but after such an enduring career, some truly incredible career milestones and countless live performances: what is it that you love most about what you do as a musician?
JASON: I love that I am trusted with a listener’s time and attention. That has made me respect my job even more. And it makes me want to sing positive, inspiring, even educational messages. I didn’t have that perspective at the beginning of my journey. Being on stage in front of audiences taught me how important my role is.
pic: Jason Mraz instagram
TIANA: Now, to slowly start to wrap us up here today – you’ve obviously got some amazing features on Look For The Good with Tiffany Haddish and Sister Carol…but if we stepped temporarily into a parallel universe and you could play any instrument with any band – who would you pick and why?
JASON: I like my band. I’m happy where I’m at.
TIANA: And I can’t resist a good old-fashioned desert island question. What’s the one album you’d take with you if you were hypothetically stranded on a desert island?
JASON: Legend, Bob Marley & the Wailers (Deluxe edition!)
TIANA: And lastly! The album title and continued phrase “look for the good” really has found significant resonance, particularly with what’s going on all over the world right now. What are some things in your life that help you look for the good, what never fails to put a smile on your face no matter what’s going on around you?
JASON: I think about my cats. They are in a different world, yet they come home every night and sleep on my feet. Plants & Animals are gifts from Mother Nature that we can interact with. They take us away from the human suffering and connect us to our deeper selves. In the human world, I look for the heroes. I admire the peaceful protestors. They help me see the good in the society, and they highlight the change that is necessary to make this world a more equal and just place for all people to live.
JASON MRAZ'S BRAND NEW ALBUM LOOK FOR THE GOOD OFFICIALLY DROPS THIS FRIDAY JUNE 19 VIA BMG, WITH PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE HERE. AND FOR MORE JASON MRAZ INFO, HEAD TO: jasonmraz.com
YOU DO YOU FEAT. TIFFANY HADDISH (JASON MRAZ)
OFFICIAL ALBUM 'LOOK FOR THE GOOD' TRACKLISTING:
1. Look For The Good
2. Make Love
3. My Kind
4. Good Old Daze
5. You Do You (feat. Tiffany Haddish)
6. Wise Woman
7. Take The Music
8. Time Out (feat. Sister Carol)
9. DJ FM AM JJASON
10. Hearing Double
11. The Minute I Heard Of Love
BY TIANA SPETER