What started as a diversion shifted into a legitimate career for Andrew Cohen, the soul singer who performs as Mayer Hawthorne. After moving from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Los Angeles in 2005, Cohen recorded as Hawthorne for his own amusement. Inspired by falsetto soul stars like Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield, Cohen released a heart shaped 7” single in 2008, which led the multi instrumentalist, producer and songwriter into a major label recording contract as Mayer Hawthorne.

Hawthorne lists his influences as the soul masters like Mayfield and Isaac Hayes mixed with more contemporary soul artists. His early taste in music was heavily influenced by the Detroit soul scene which fed into Ann Arbor.

Mayer Hawthorne has now released nine albums with three of those recorded with collaborator Jake One as Tuxedo, a band inspired by post disco R&B. Tuxedos’ latest albums came in 2017 and 2019 and took time away from Mayer Hawthorne, but Cohen still managed to release some singles and EPs. Those were all combined along with some new material for the latest Mayer Hawthorne album, 2020s’ Rare Changes.

For Hawthorne, Steely Dan represents a lot of what he likes about music making. He says “The reason we really love Steely Dan—which Pharrell Williams made me realize—is that Donald Fagen tells the stories in such a vivid and detailed manner and he really paints that picture and puts you there in that world. That was something I really tried to take with me”.