He had sold out shows, toured around the world, awards won, and has created hit after hit, so what does a guy like Jason Mraz still wants to do? “I’m constantly creating, and I still want to do it,” shares the California based singer-songwriter. A testament to this reply is his mid-last year’s release, his sixth album know, a collection of feel good tunes, something Jason is well-equipped and eager to do. It is important for Jason to write about the goodness in the world; it’s his calling and motivation. “it’s fun for me to challenge myself as a writer to try to make songs that influence and encourage one’s way of life to be filled with love and gratitude,” he shares.
We had a chance to talk to Jason before he flies to Asia for his good vibes tour. He shared about how they made the music video for “Have It All” (his first single for Know), his Broadway stint via the waitress, being a farmer, and what is love to him.
When I listened to your album Know, my first reactions was, after all these years, you still write songs that give your fans good vibes. How important is it for you to make people who listen to your songs feel good?
Good vibes, that’s what it’s all about because our life experience is whatever we put our attention to. If someone is choosing to listen to music, you want that music to enhance someone’s attention. You want to enhance their senses as they go through the world. Whether they’re doing nothing, just sitting and listening, which is rare, or they’re commuting for work, working in the garden, typing, or painting. You want that music to have a good vibe and be supportive and encouraging and be able to present love in ordinary places.
How did the music video for your song “Have it All” came about?
We were thinking about where to shoot this music video and someone recommended that we go to my hometown in Richmond, Virginia. I’m glad they did because I wanted to create a video for the song that resembled a graduation from primary or middle school; young people stepping in a new chapter in their life. In my hometown, I worked with a number of different schools and I knew that I have access to shining a light on some great teachers and phenomenal students that I’ve work with; students that are studying the arts right now. And what better way to give these art students a big art project called a music video. The kids got to learn dances, they got to decorate their halls and really stepped in to being an artist, and we shot this at the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC). We did it on a Saturday and Sunday, and only a music video would get two hundred kids to show up at school on a weekend. We were just trying to bring good vibes and art into the school and what happens is that it gets transformed; the kids wanted to be there, and they come to life, and that’s what the video exemplifies.
Another music video that you released from the album was for Love is Still the Answer, which was very moving and interactive. If you were to be asked what love is for you, what would it be?
Sharing. Sharing anything—time, listening to someone, or some kind of resource with them. Like right now, we’re sharing time. You’re giving me your time at the beach and I’m giving you my time after dinner here in California, now we’re two artists collaborating, and I love that. That’s love; love is happening between us.
You have been playing the song “Sleeping to Dream” live for such a long time now. What made you finally decide to include it in this album?
I’m not sure if people noticed but I had never put it on an album before. While we were in the studio, the other guys mentioned it, they said “that’s a great song, why doesn’t that song exist?” For me, as a creator, I’m always moving on and making new material, so I tend to accidentally forget the old stuff. Then the guys said, “let’s just record it and see what happens” and that was a ton of fun and I’m glad we did it because what got birth was a new, modern and hypnotic groove. The song was meant to be a sleepy dreamer song. If people are thrilled to hear the song again, then I am thrilled for it to finally have a birthday. “I’m Yours” was around four or five years before it made it on to a record, unfortunately, “Sleeping to Dream” had to sit around for 20 years before it made it on a record.
While working on Know, you also did a bit of acting via Broadway. What made you say “yes” to doing The Waitress and how was that experience like for you?
I said yes because I love the show, I love Sara Bareilles and what she has created. I had never done that in my adult life and suddenly, here’s the opportunity and I couldn’t resist. It was a blast. It gave me a whole new perspective on performance and ultimately led to the joy that is inside the new album and the whimsy on the new tour that we’re taking around.
Aside from being an all-around performer, you’re also a farmer. How has farming improved your mentality?
Everything on the farm is at its own pace, it’s at its own time and season. You can’t grow an avocado overnight or in a week. It’s comes from maturity, season, and nurturing. All of that has inspired me as a creator and as a person not to do so much in one day. Let things gradually have their time. We humans, especially in the modern world, we are judged on how much we can accomplish in a day; it’s all about progress, progress, progress. Earth acts different than that, I love that. Being a farmer gives me permission to slow down, and it’s important to remember that.
You’ve been doing music for two decades. What’s been your most favorite thing about it so far?
I love creating. I just love diving back into a blank page or an empty studio and birthing a song. That would probably never change. And I’m very lucky to share that with people all over the world and that’s the next best thing. The act of creating has given me a passport and wings to fly. It’s given me a worldview, which is I’m so grateful for. Some people are never even given a chance to leave where they’re from. To be all over the world and see how we’re all connected is such a gift and that’s been the biggest joy for me.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I started working on a Reggae album, which I’m very excited about. I’ve also been collaborating with a young girl names Renee Dominique who’s from Manila, she and I are going to have a song that will come out some time this summer. Being able to show up and create new things that I haven’t done yet, that’s exciting, and they’re all still song based.