- - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Composed of soul singer Mayer Hawthorne and hip-hop producer Jake One (50 Cent, G-Unit, De La Soul), Tuxedo is the new king of funk. Its debut album features a blend of late 1970s and early 1980s R&B-inspired jams with shades of Dave Grusin/Lee Ritenour smooth jazz undertones.

In advance of Tuxedo’s appearance at U Street Music Hall on Friday, Mr. Hawthorne and Mr. One discuss their smooth sound, playing the Hollywood Bowl and how they both got so funky.

Question: When did you guys first meet?

Mayer Hawthorne: [Mr. One] produced the track “Henny & Gingerale” on my second Mayer Hawthorne record. But we met before that.

Jake One: We met through hip-hop before [that] happened. I didn’t know he was a singer or anything at first. Ironically, we just happened to be into the same music. We liked boogie and funk.

I DJ’d a party with him in 2007, and that was where we kind of really connected.

Q: How did you become the group Tuxedo?

JO: I was learning how to play the keyboards a little bit, dabbling with that. I made a track that was more non-hip-hop and more funk. He literally just played me his cut “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” around that time. I sent him the beat, and he sent me a song back the same day.

That was “Lost Lover,” which ended up being the first song on the album. It started from there.

MH: We were just making songs for our own amusement. It was really just stuff we liked that was different from everything else we were doing — just for us to ride around and listen to in the car. It wasn’t until we had 20-something songs done that we thought, “Maybe we should put an album out of this.”

Q: What was the recording process like?

JO: I would create rough tracks in Seattle, and then we would get together for four or five days here and there. We fleshed the ideas out together.

MH: We didn’t want to make a record over the Internet. We wanted to make sure we were in the studio together when we recorded it.

Q: You guys just played a show at the legendary Hollywood Bowl opening for Bootsy Collins. How was that?

MH: It was dope. The coolest part of it was doing it with Bootsy.

JO: It was trip just to see all those people and be in a place that is so legendary. I’m growing into my role as a keyboard player. So to me it was also a little daunting. I thought we came off pretty good.

The more shows we do with the band, they keep getting better.

Q: What did Bootsy Collins say to you backstage?

MH: He just told me the coolest thing he could have ever said. He said, “You got the funk in you.” That was pretty much the greatest compliment anybody could have ever given me.

Q: Why did you choose the name Tuxedo?

JO: We just wanted to stay in the tradition of the one-word band name.

MH: All the bands that we loved, the songs that were on the mix tapes we were bumping, were all one-word-named bands. Shalamar. Chic.

JO: Zapp.

MH: We wanted something that was reminiscent of that and fit the classy nature of the music that we were making.

Q: The upcoming D.C. gig is not a band gig? Why is that?

MH: The D.C. gig we are just DJ-ing. I say “just DJ-ing,” but we’re both DJs first. We have been DJ-ing for a decade each — before we started any of this stuff.

Q: Is there a second Tuxedo album in the works?

JO: We are already working [and] rolling on a new album. I think we are going to get it out a lot faster than the first album.

Q: You’re both full of funk. Where does that funk come from?

JO: For me, when I was a kid, that was the hot music. My parents used to go to work and leave me with the baby-sitters next door, and that is all they played. It’s really the first music I remember.

MH: For me, [it came] from my dad, I guess. He’s a bass player, and he taught me how to play bass guitar when I was a kid. The bass lines are such a huge part of this music. I think I immediately latched on to it because of that.

if you go

WHAT: Tuxedo DJ set with disc jockey Provoke

WHERE: U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

WHEN: Friday, 10:30 p.m.

INFO: Tickets $10 by calling 202/588-1889 or visiting UStreetMusicHall.com


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