In a world where irony and self-deprecation have become the norm for all things cool, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz has maintained his sunny position in the music industry.
Mraz will perform tonight at 7:30 in Freeborn Hall. Opening for Mraz is Irish singer Lisa Hannigan. Tickets to the show are sold out.
From his first album Waiting for My Rocket to Come to his latest release We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things., Mraz has carved a niche for himself with his signature upbeat tunes.
Only one word came to mind when asked to describe his music.
“Jaunty,” he said, “I don’t know any other way to describe it.“
His playful nature has found itself in songs like “Geek in the Pink“ – a song from his sophomore album “Mr. A-Z“ that gained popularity after a performance from a contestant on “American Idol.” Mraz exudes optimism in songs like “The Remedy (I Won’t Worry),“ which he wrote for a friend who was diagnosed with cancer.
As a musician, Mraz said that he still tries to keep it as fresh and naïve as when he first started writing as a teenager. His songs are a reflection of his life, he said.
“I certainly can’t sit down and try to fake a song topic,” Mraz said. “If I could share [my life experiences] with a song, then it has the power to travel much further than I could. If you could put a message into music and have it travel in a melody, then it’s unbelievable.“
Mraz also gave some insight into his creative process.
“As a songwriter, everything starts on the guitar – poetry set to music is what I sort of hope for,” he said. “Once you get into a studio and start producing [a song], it can go anywhere. I try not to let success or the fact that [this is] my career get in the way. I don’t sit down and write songs assuming that it’s going to be on the radio – any of those things are just distractions.“
Though some may be quick to designate his sound as strictly pop, Mraz has demonstrated a more sophisticated taste in music, drawing from other genres such as folk and reggae. He listed influences that ranged from hip-hop group Jurassic 5 and Mike Doughty from alt-rock band Soul Coughing – two acts also known for finding harmony between different genres.
“I steal from pretty much everything I listen to,” Mraz said. “I could be listening to classical, and at the end of the day all I want to study is classical, I want to be Bob Dylan when I listen to folk music. It’s all of the above. People sort of put a generalization based on instrumentals, but it’s much more than that.“
Entertainment Council director Jasmine Lau credited Mraz’s sold out concert to his musical diversity.
“[Mraz’s music] is a good in-between genre that can appeal to a lot of audiences,” Lau said.
Betty Vidal, a senior double majoring in history and Italian, started to listen to Mraz during her sophomore year of high school.
“It’s a different sound than what you’re getting from the John Mayers and the Jack Johnsons and all the other artists,” she said. “[His music] is just really mellow and relaxing and peppy at the same time. It kind of just puts you in a good mood.“
In addition to music, Mraz is also making his mark in the world of publishing with a thousand things, a book of Polaroid pictures collected from his travels on tour.
“The book is not about music or being behind the scenes,” Mraz said. “It’s just of things I’ve come across. I don’t have to buy anything on the road – I just have these snapshots.“
For more information about Mraz, visit jasonmraz.com. To learn more about Entertainment Council, check out ec.ucdavis.edu.
RACHEL FILIPINAS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.