I heard Mayer Hawthorne's music before I actually saw him. Like most, I was slightly taken aback when I found that this seemingly insipid white guy from Ann Arbor, MI. was belting soul as rich as that. Even after the release of his debut album, A Strange Arrangement, on the ever infamous Stones Throw Records, I still wasn't certain this was a real thing. Was this to be another one-off underground classic disguised as a gimmick, or vice-versa? It wasn't until I found out that the crooner began as DJ Haircut from Michigan's well recognized hip-hop outfit, Athletic Mic League, that the pieces started coming together. Here we had a music aficionado and crate digger with a passion for soul who befriended another music aficionado and crate digger in Peanut Butter Wolf, who had a label notorious for its obscure, experimental, yet timeless releases. The Universe allows greatness sometimes.
So when I was approached to interview the singer and his longtime friend from AML, producer and rapper Kendall Tucker, better known as 14KT, about their fresh sonic foray into New Wave, I wasn't surprised at all. The Big Knock LP, set for a release date of 6.17.14 should be an interesting and refreshing reflection of the duo's longtime relationship with Ghetto Tech, and House music – two genres that the city of Detroit, MI undoubtedly was a hub for. We talked about the creative process behind the album, inspirations and how the two discovered "Beat-Wave":
Earmilk: Why the name Jaded Inc and what was the inspiration behind this particular collaboration?
Mayer Hawthorne: Jaded Inc is…music for people who are bored with music [laughs]. Ya know? Hence the name "Jaded Inc". It's for people who are jaded with the state of music and hopefully its a kick in the pants.
EM: Both of you call Ann Arbor, MI home and have been working together on and off since the days of Athletic Mic League. Why did it take so long for a collaboration of this kind to come along, and creatively how were you able to find mutually solid ground?
14KT: The inspiration was mainly me and Mayer reconnecting [through] a love of New Wave records and kind of mixing it with a love for ghetto tech records that we grew up listening to, and we kind of combined those styles with what we do and put them together. It just seemed like it was the right time
MH: You know, everything happens on time. We've been wanting to do this for a long time adn it's something we've been talking about forever. You know? The stars just aligned and the schedules lined up, and we were able to get it done.
EM: Word! Michigan has a long and pivotal history when it comes to the House, New Wave, and Funk genres. How would you describe Beat Wave? Is it a retrospective restyling or something new entirely?
MH: Beat Wave is Ghettotech/New Wave. You know, we grew up listening to Detroit and Chicago ghetto house music on the radio every night when we came home from the club at three in the morning. Cats like DJ Assault and DJ Godfather…DJ Deeon and Slugo from Chicago. We took those beats – basically the rhythms and some of the sounds of that and took the melody of the New Wave and combined it together. The sound that we achieved was so unique that we felt like it needed a new name, so we came up with "Beat Wave".
EM: What are some of the things we can expect from your LP and what would you like to achieve with the album. By that I mean what do you hope listeners gain from it?
14KT: Hrmmm that's interesting. Uhmm…hrmmmmm
EM: Is it a secret?
MH: You want to take a stab at that one Kendall?
14KT: Well, it's a few things, you know? Because this record is a different type of record. If anything, me personally, I just want people to just see what we're trying to do with the record and hopefully what we're trying to do sheds light on something new and something creative and also sheds light on all the records that inspired us. You know? How dope they were and kind of puts people on that style of music that we love so much, that we're creating. So just kind of people getting it and understanding that this is something new and something different.
MH: Yeah, we're definitely introducing people to something new. There's nothing else like this out there, at least that we've heard. So that's the main thing, we're trying to introduce people to something new and we're trying to showcase a different side to both of us individually.
EM: Oh yeah, I definitely agree. Just after hearing "Coconut Sofa" and "Monster", the joint produced by Dilla. It's mind blowing man, it really is a monstrous track. I haven't heard anything like that in years man, so I really appreciate what y'all are doing.
MH: I'm glad you're picking up what we're putting down man, because for a lot of people it just goes right over their heads.
14KT: Yeah, for real.
EM: Oh, absolutely yo. So with a lot of these collaborative efforts; Madvilliany, Jaylib, etc. Artist drop them and appreciators will pine over it, waiting for a sequel to no avail. Will Jaded Inc. be a one off thing that we'll see once every blue moon? What is the foreseeable outcome to this pairing?
MH: The Big Knock surprised us, I think. We were both kind of really surprised and excited about what we created. I definitely think that…I hope that we can keep this going you know, and hopefully we get the opportunity to do another record, because we already have ideas for new songs and we've done a bunch of remixes that will be coming out soon too.
14KT: Yeah, it seems like at the same time, when we did create the album, we were still trying to figure out our sound too . So I feel like were still coming up with new ideas that we still want to try. So you'll still hear Jaded material even after the album comes out.
MH: Yeah we're just getting warmed up man.
EM: Bet! That's definitely good to know. Well that's pretty much all I have for you guys, but one last question: What are some artist that you guys are listening to and appreciating their sound at the moment? Whether they be up and coming, or at it for a while now you know? Who are some artist that y'all are listening to heavy right now?
MH: DJ Rashad outta Chicago. His last record that he dropped before he passed away; that's all I've been bumping lately
14KT: ...and that Todd Terje, that's my…that's my.
MH: Yeah! Todd Terje, Little Dragon
EM: [Laughs] Ok. Well fellas, I appreciate y'all taking the time out to talk to me today for Earmilk and I definitely hope we can do this again after the next project. Thank you.
Jaded Inc: Definitely man, we appreciate it. Take it easy.