Jun 14, 2012|
What’s the difference between being on tour and back home?
The biggest difference from where I come from--where I was born, in my hometown in Virginia, or where I live now in San Diego--is that all the places have become so familiar that all the routines and all the conversations, even the trees and the bird songs, they tend to almost disappear sometimes from view because you’re so deep inside the familiarity of it that you forget to see how beautiful it really is. So therefore, when I travel, when I go to any other cities, and certainly when I’m constantly traveling, everything is new and you’re constantly engaged, constantly awoken to different sights, sounds, shapes, colors of things.
What’s your take on Asia?
There’s something that’s quite profound that happens for me when I come over to Asia. It is because I can’t read anything, and that creates a quiet of the mind. You know, if I’m in New York City, all I’m reading is advertisements, and street signs; it’s constant business being thrown at you. Whereas when I come over here, or when I’m in China, or Japan, most things around me, or even street signs here in Thailand, they just look like graphic art to me. So it quiets the mind, and it allows me to see more of the nature, more of the beauty, more of the spirit in things versus the man-made, or the messages that they try to send us. It just creates a different mindset, in which I’m going to see the world. And then when things come at me, whether it be a conversation I have or a longing for someone in another city, or just being open through this quiet of mind, I never know what’s going to come up in a song. It could be an old feeling in the past, or it could be an entirely new feeling. But because of that, I do get inspired a lot when I travel.
What about Thailand specifically?
I didn’t know it was called the land of smile before. I like that. But I always try to have as few expectations as possible, so as not to live in some made up future, and then get there and say, “Oh, it’s not that at all”. [I try to] just be open to whatever I walk into. What I have noticed here, and now I know that this land is called the Land of smile--it’s amazing--is grace. Other countries don’t have this grace. This bowing, and this respectful language that most males or females seem to have a different kind of respect for, but in an equal amount of respect. It’s just like a grace – a way of being – that not all cultures have. Certainly, in the United States, they don’t. We don’t know how to greet each other at all. Some people shake hands, some people hug, some people don’t touch each other at all. Very awkward, you know, it’s so strange. But here, there’s just grace, I can’t think of any other word for it. And that’s a beautiful thing. You should be very proud.
Would your say your music is about more than just love and relationships?
Well, recently it’s been everything, which is why even the album was created. It’s interesting because when I make an album, it’s whatever I’m processing or learning in my life. That is what the album is about. Or whatever I’m experiencing at the time in my life. And I look back at all my albums and saw that, love and relationship is a common through life. But still I have yet to be master at love; I have yet to start a family, or have a long-lasting relationship. So that was something I really want to look at, and learn, and improve, and be better; be better at love, and just be love itself. So I took this project on, and at the same time that I was having these feelings, I saw that artwork (the new album cover) before I had written any song. And I thought, wow these are four fundamentals of building. They are the first things we even see as children; we were introduced these shapes. Yet, I had never seen them in that order before. It said that word ‘love’. I thought, wow. I’m just so amazed by this. I thought there are two reasons I should make an album about love based on, or because of, this artwork. One, we want to really duplicate that album as much as possible, right? I mean, you want to sell millions of copies. And you want to advertise it, and put posters up. And how cool is that, it even ends up as a digital graphic on your phone if you download it. What a cool way to spread the message of love in the world one more time – another message of love for a new generation. And if you can see love in that image, in those four shapes, it’s a choice that you’re making because they are just shapes. If you choose to see love, you always have the power to choose to see love in the world – in anyone, in anything, in an enemy, in a bad day, in a mirror. Love is a choice that we make. That’s one of the profound realizations I had in working on this album. It’s almost like the songs are just side projects, or side effects of living inside this journey to understand love. What I conclude love to be, now, is sharing. I think it’s best understood, best seen and felt when you simply share something. My being here in this interview is sharing because I love what I do. And I love that you love what you do, and that you’re going to share your passion in writing with someone who’s probably going to have a passion for reading about music or lifestyle or whatever. And it’s going to resonate with their love. It’s the sharing – this constantly sharing – that we pass on to each other. Or when we share resources, or energy, or when we volunteer, or feed other, or hug others, or give money to help an organization. Sharing, I find, is that best way for us to really truly experience love. It gets you out of your head, and your heart.
What’s with your new look?
You know, I don’t know. During my break between albums, I realized that it would grow if I didn’t cut it. So now it’s growing. It’s easier; it’s fun. Yeah, I would probably cut it one day, and people would go, “Oh no! it’s your new look!”
How do you balance your life having to go on tour for a long period of time?
Oh gosh, I don’t always. I don’t always balance my life. Sometimes I absolutely go crazy. And then I think, “Why am I going crazy?” But I do my best. I balance it by doing yoga, or some kind of physical activity. Traveling or touring is often sitting, having conversations, sitting on a plane, sitting in an airport, sitting in a van, sitting on a bus, you know, it’s a lot of just stagnant energy. So by doing yoga or some kind of physical activity, I can, as Bob Marley would say, “lively up yourself,” and get back into your head and generate some thoughts, some lyrics, and some ideas. And that, to me, is to help to keep balance between sitting. And in this practice, of being lively through yoga or sitting, is the balance that I can then apply to my whole life or to my entire day, whether it’s an hour of doing interviews, or an hour of not talking, or interacting with my band later to put the show together tonight. It all goes down to doing a pose in yoga, where you are forced to balance and keep yourself there for an extra minute. But you don’t want to, and your mind says, “I don’t wanna do it.” But your body says, ‘Just do it man, just do it’. And your body finally comes together, and hopefully you can live that way for the rest of the day and create that balance.
How do you maintain a relationship?
As for the rest of my life, how do I have family and all that--I don’t. My family is with me on the road. My family accepts that I’m here on the road. My family is a very special core group of people that I’ll stay in correspondence with. Right now, I’m doing good though. I’ve got a lot of amazing friends in my life – some very close ones that support my being here. So that way, it doesn’t feel like I’m missing anything somewhere else.
Can you tell us about the Jason Mraz foundation?
When I first started out, fifteen years ago, I was making absolutely no money, and it was through the generosity of friends and family that I had a rich quality of life. It kept me on my path so I could be the artist that I wanted to be. And now years later, thanks to music, which I’ve known to actually serve in many ways, I decided to take this spotlight, and redirect it on some stories of individuals and organizations out there that are doing their part, working to give a rich quality of life to those that are less fortunate. So I used the spotlight, the attention, the awareness, my resources and my money to create a foundation that supports these other programs. At the moment, I support about eight different charities inside the fund that is the Jason Mraz foundation. It covers a variety of organizations from animal preservation to human rights. You can find out more about that at jasonmraz.com/foundation. It has been a career highlight for me to actually go far beyond what I thought I would acquire or achieve as a songwriter, now that I can actually serve the world in profound ways.