Soul, Style, and San Francisco: Five Questions for Mayer Hawthorne

Mayer Hawthorne is a musician, singer-songwriter, and killer DJ from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He grew up on hip-hop, soul, funk, and techno (of course!), and he makes music to love to, to cry to, and to dance to. Tomorrow, Friday Sept. 15, Mayer Hawthorne is making a visit to Public Works, playing a genre-spanning DJ set, and we asked him a handful of questions so our clubgoers can get a better idea of what he’s about. Read on — and don’t miss his set!



Since Public Works is primarily a techno-house club and you’re from Detroit (Ann Arbor, to be specific), it’s only natural that we ask you about techno. Was techno a fixture in your musical life growing up? Do you keep up with the present-day situation in house and techno at all?

I was hella conflicted in the ’90s — because I secretly loved a lot of the soulful house and ghetto-tech records, but I was a rap dude and hip-hop heads weren’t supposed to like techno. I wish I would have bought more house records back then … because now I have to go on eBay and pay top dollar for them!

Similarly, I imagine that growing up in and around Detroit, DJs and DJing were part and parcel of your life. Do you remember the first time you encountered a DJ? … and perhaps the first time a DJ made you think, “I want to do that too!”

I remember so vividly seeing Disco D (RIP!) at the Trotter House in Ann Arbor in like 1996. He was flawlessly scratching and mixing 150bpm booty records and I stood there with my jaw on the floor, completely dumbfounded. Later that year, I bought my first pair of Technics 1200 turntables, the same pair that I still use today.

Who are some of your favorite DJs, the folks who inspire you and push you to innovate in your craft?

DJ Jazzy Jeff, J Rocc, DJ Kurse, Shortkut, Peanut Butter Wolf and about a billion more…

Style is clearly important to you. What kind of shoes do you bring on tour? How do you stay looking fresh while feeling comfy playing one city after the next?

Clothes and shoes get destroyed on tour, so you gotta strike that balance between shit you love and shit you don’t care about ruining. You’re also living out of a suitcase, so you end up wearing the same things a lot, and those things better be comfortable or you’re gonna go insane. Always bring a good black suit that fits you well, so you can wear the pieces separately with other stuff. I also like scarves because they’re stylish and versatile, and they keep my throat warm so I can hit all those falsetto notes.

Assuming you have a couple hours to rest and relax here in San Francisco… is there any meal you’re particularly excited to eat? Any SF specialties that make you weak in the knees?

If I’m in the Bay Area you can generally find me at Taqueria Sinaloa or Tu Lan. Hallelujah, holla back!