Mayer Hawthorne is "basically just mixing and mastering" his sophomore album, with a hoped-for early fall release.
"It's still very soulful," Hawthorne told Billboard.com before a South By Southwest performance as part of Snoop Dogg's Funk n Soul Extravaganza. The Ann Arbor, Mich., native "went back to Detroit to record most of it. I wanted to make sure I didn't lose that grittiness and that soul. But a lot of my other influences are coming out on this record. There's a little more rock 'n' roll, even a little more, like, reggae and everything. There are a lot of other genres that are blending in now. It's just turning into me."
He adds that the eclecticism of the follow-up to 2009's lauded "A Strange Arrangement" comes naturally. "I listen to all kinds of music -- pop and Frank Sinatra and everything, so I'm gonna roll all that into what I do. I think that's one of the main reasons people latched onto what I was doing in the first place. I come from a hip-hop background. I'm part of the hip-hop generation; I make soul music for hip-hop heads, so it's the blending of genres and creating something new that I think is really attractive to people."
Hawthorne previewed one of the new songs, "A Long Time," during his set in Austin, and he said Snoop -- for whom he did a remix of "Gangsta Luv" last year -- guests on another track, "I Can't Stop."
"It's Snoop like you've never heard him before. That's all I'm going to say," notes Hawthorne, who also worked with latter-day Motown Funk Brother guitarist Dennis Coffey on some tracks for his album as well as singing a cover of Funkadelic's "Don't Know My Love" for Coffey's upcoming album, a self-titled set due out Apr. 28.
Besides working on his album, Hawthorne recently did a remix for "Dig a Little Deeper" for Peter Bjorn and John's new album, "Gimme Some," and appears on the upcoming album by French electronic artist SebastiAn. "You're going to see a totally different side of me there," Hawthorne says. "I'm always trying to give people different looks and keep them on their toes, keep them guessing. You never know what you're gonna get, but it's gonna be dope."