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'Singing Makes Me Feel Good': Jason Mraz On New Album, Embracing His Bisexuality

Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. (Courtesy Justin Bettman via Atlantic Records)
Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. (Courtesy Justin Bettman via Atlantic Records)
This article is more than 4 years old.

Pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz is out with his sixth studio album, "Know." Mraz called the album a love letter to his wife.

He is also opening up more about his sexuality after penning a letter to the LGBT community in honor of Pride Month, in which he said, "I am bi your side."

Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson speaks with Mraz (@jason_mraz) in the midst of his "Good Vibes" tour.

"When I feel good, I sing," Mraz says, "and then singing makes me feel good, and it just escalates and becomes a constant feel-good experience."

Interview Highlights

On the positive, "feel-good" nature of his music

"The through line for me is always vocally driven, positive articulation and some stuff that you can sing along to no matter what the genre is.

"I do write songs when I'm sad. I do write songs when I'm frustrated, but those aren't the ones I'm gonna bring to the stage, because a stage is typically a place where I've asked 1,000 or 5,000 people to gather, to sing and dance, and have a good time. So feel-good songs are what I want to bring to that event."

On the album as a love letter to his wife and the song/music video "Might As Well Dance," which includes clips from their wedding

"For the video, we had not yet shared our wedding video, except with those who attended. And as we were sitting in bed one night, looking through different clips that we might be able to use for a video about dancing, we said, 'Well, what if we put a couple of clips from our wedding video of dancing?' And then, once we started looking at that old footage again, we realized we should just make the entire video about our wedding.

"That song started out as a voice memo to her on her voicemail while I was traveling, and I thought it would be a fun way to honor the song."

On whether he played any of his own music at his wedding

"I did, but nothing that's been released. The one I use at a wedding was a song I wrote for my wife called, 'The Best Thing I Can Do For You Is Clean Our House.'

"It has lines such as, 'and clean the litter box,' you know, very specific things to our daily routines."

On how he stays upbeat amid negative national news and how he sees his role in a climate of divisiveness

"Well, I feel that my position can be one that says, 'Let's not forget about love.' Right? And it's hard to love the other side of the aisle, whatever aisle you're on, you know. Whatever side of the street or the protest you're on, it's truly hard to love.

"We all wake up here in 2000-whatever, and we inherit a really gnarly history, a very violent history. And yet, we also stand in a really powerful place where the future isn't written yet, and we can, through loving action, rewrite history, change rules, change laws and help all of humanity. I certainly don't think investing more money in might, in military, in weaponry is going to create world peace. So I've always been one who stands for love, and if I can stand in the middle of that protest and help people hold hands and see their own humanity in each other's eyes, then maybe that can help resolve some issues."

"I feel that my position can be one that says, 'Let's not forget about love.' Right? And it's hard to love the other side of the aisle, whatever aisle you're on."

Jason Mraz

On his song from 2012, "93 Million Miles"

"First, it was a thank you to my parents because they gave me permission to pursue the arts as a career path. And they said, 'Look, you can always come back home. You can always work back in Richmond, Virginia,' my hometown, 'but go for it. Live your dream. Because if you do what you love and you can love what you do, then you've won.' You know, that's success.

"It's also a little bit of about science, or at least elevation. My favorite thing about traveling is when you're up in the airplane and you look back down at Earth ... you can even see sort of the curvature of the earth, and when you look at cities and the urban sprawl, every single one of us just seems so empty and meaningless. Whereas, when you're down on the Earth, everything's relative, and everything seems so important, and traffic seems like a nightmare. So it's that little bit of distance when you zoom out that is the reminder of how fragile we are and how precious we are. So it reminds me to just be more loving and grateful for the limited time we have here."

On the music he made when he was in his 20s versus now in his 40s

"I cringe at some of my older material, but I also know that I was in my 20s. I was in my early 20s for a lot of that material, and what's on your mind — at least my mind in my early 20s — was trying to get the girl and where's the next party. And it's not dissimilar to many young-people songs about going to the club and trying to say, 'Look at me.'

"I can't sing those songs today because it's just not who I am. And so, I do end up retiring quite a bit of my material. But as a writer, I'm always excited about the new things I'm writing, so my show still has plenty of music."

On his hit song, "I'm Yours"

"I like to say that that song is written in primary colors and has a melody that reminded me of a nursery rhyme, something I would have sung in preschool, kindergarten, et cetera.

"When I wrote it, it wasn't about anyone in particular. It was more about my love of singing and closing my eyes and surrendering to whatever energy — an entity — inspires one to write or dream or sing. And when I finally recorded it about four years later, I did have a girlfriend, so I sang it with a little more emphasis on, you know, on a little more swagger, I guess. Lyrics like, 'Scooch on over closer, dear' — that wasn't in the original. But I think that giving away that generosity is something that resonates with people, especially those who are getting married or who want to give their life or their time to something."

On his sexuality and the letter he sent to the LGBT community during Pride Month

"Well, I was making an example of my own sexual preferences, which at times have been on either the female gender or the male gender, so bisexuality, if you will. And as I was writing this letter, that Billboard [the American music magazine] asked me to write, I realized I couldn't write it to a community that stood over there. I was with that community, so it felt almost like a lie to say, ‘I'm with you.’ It felt more comforting and more authentic of me to say, ‘Yeah, this is who I am. I've been able to stand on both sides.'

"Being the 'B' in LGBT is sort of the one that's least, I don't know — it has the least potency, if you will.

"Honestly, most of my life, I assumed that everyone must be 'B' until they land their identity, but for me, I do feel comfortable in my 'B.' And in fact, one of my working titles for this new album, which is called, 'Know,' K-N-O-W, was 'L-G-Me-T' and where I put 'me' as the letter 'B.'

"I didn't want to make that the only conversation about this record, and by the end of the process, the album became 10 love letters to my wife, which is great, but it just didn't match, that title didn't really match the final curation of the record. Plus, my last album was called, 'Yes!' and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to have an album called, 'Know.' "

Here's more information about tour dates.

This segment aired on August 8, 2018.



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