Mayer Hawthorne and the County were a perfect fit for the opening of the Cosmopolitan’s lounge-y, old-school Vegas venue Book & Stage last December. A Motown-inspired multi-instrumentalist and foodie, Hawthorne believes that “there’s nowhere better to be on New Year’s than Vegas.” The Detroit native and his crew return to Book & Stage with two special shows each night, Dec. 30-Jan. 1.
Your sound is resurrecting Motown but with an indie spin. What’s your goal?
The goal is always to take the music forward and not back. I don’t want to take it back to the good ol’ days, I wanna make the new good days. That’s what it’s all about, and really to have fun with it. Fun is No. 1, and that’s the only rule.
If you could work with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Gary Numan. I’m a big fan of his. He’s a big influence on me. I’d want to do something really crazy. I always like doing something that nobody would expect.
Like how you worked with Snoop Dogg on your latest album. How’d that come about?
Snoop asked me to do a remix for him on his album, and he really loved it. He asked me what he’d have to do to get on my album, and I told him he’d have to sing. I knew he would knock it out the park because he loves all that old classic soul.
What are two songs that have influenced your music?
It’s not a definitive list, but the first ones that come to my mind are Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” [and] anything off Prince’s Dirty Mind album.
Your look is very distinctive. How would you describe your style?
The motto is “always flashy but classy.” You gotta stand out from the crowd and do your own thing, be original but be different. Be confident, but you’ve always gotta keep it classy. If you come out of the crib feeling like you look like a million bucks, then everyone’s gonna think you look like a million bucks.
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