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jason mraz (interview from 2002)

"I'm just a curbside prophet with my hand in my pocket and I'm waiting for my rocket to come," sings Jason Mraz on his debut album. How else can you describe this guy? Intimate, witty, and a ton of fun to listen to. Actually, you could describe his album similarly. Many have compared him to good 'ole John Mayer. However, stick a guitar in any male, twenty-something's hand and they'll perpetuate similar comparisons. Jason Mraz has his own unique style and views. We're branding him one to watch in 2003.

Lindzi.com: How are things going?

Jason Mraz: We're currently broken down in a bus parked in a bus garage without power and we're freezing to death. I think we have a flat tire. We're getting it fixed.

Lindzi.com: That sucks. So, let's get into this... At eighteen you picked up the guitar... that's rather late.

Jason Mraz: I did. All my life I was afraid of it. I'd look at it and didn't understand it. It didn't make sense. The only instrument that made sense to me was the piano. The guitar was a weird little instrument. Then, I saw Dave Matthews play the guitar and it made sense to me. I said, "This is what I'm doing with my life."

Lindzi.com: You knew right then and there that this was what you wanted to do with your life? What went through your head?

Jason Mraz: Learn to play. I spent [ages] eighteen, nineteen, twenty, and twenty-one sitting in my apartment hiding from the world. Playing the guitar and writing some songs. Looking for inspiration, I decided to move to California. I'm still there. I love it. It only took a couple of weeks before I met a lot of great people who turned me onto the San Diego music scene.

Lindzi.com: And you found your inspiration out there?

Jason Mraz: I had never been out West. [I found inspiration in] everything from the geography and the land to the people and the water... the sunsets on the water to the dance places. I knew I could steer my career the way I wanted to... that in itself is inspiration -- knowing that I had the freedom and the opportunity.

Lindzi.com: What are your favorite songs off the album?

Jason Mraz: I'll Do Anything and No Stopping Us were written really quickly. My favorite on the album is The Boy Is Gone. It's probably the oldest song on the album. It's one I had been saving. I never wanted to put it on the live album. I wanted to save it for my record. The song is basically about a boy going off and chasing his sixth sense. I've always believed that there is something greater out there that we can't see, but are all motivated by. It keeps things going. It's God. I was just thinking a lot about life when I wrote that song. I had a lot of questions.

Lindzi.com: Would you consider yourself an analytical person?

Jason Mraz: Yeah, but not to tear something apart. I've met so many people who are analytical. They do it to get a rise out of themselves. I don't live day to day analyzing.

Lindzi.com: You're a brilliant songwriter. I think Curbside Prophet is a prime example of your ability to creatively and loosely tell a story. Can you decipher it for me?

Jason Mraz: That song was written in one night. There are two parts to the original Curbside. The original was about seven minutes of material, no chorus. It was two huge verses. The first verse was written one night with a friend of mine I went to college with. He and I used to do instrumentals together. We'd play word games and exercises. One night Curbside was born. I held onto it and realized I was writing the story of my life. A couple weeks later, I was in a hotel. I sat down and wrote the second major verse. It told my whole story -- from when I was in musical theatre school in New York to moving back to Virginia to going to San Diego and then to LA. I thought of it as a humorous song, but the record company loved it.

Lindzi.com: So, what is a "curbside prophet?"

Jason Mraz: Curbside prophets are street cats and songwriters. Anytime you somebody on the street doing their art. Whether they're a poet or playing their guitar on the street. Any artist who's out there who affects the passersby. Artists are born with messages from beyond.

Lindzi.com: So, what's your message?

Jason Mraz: That's a good question. I think my purpose is to bring people together. Hopefully, with their own creativity and spirituality, they'll pursue their own interests and loves. I hope I can be a mentor for them.

Lindzi.com: Another great song -- along those lines -- is The Remedy. In particular, I love the line, "The remedy is the experience. It is a dangerous liaison." What do you mean by this?

Jason Mraz: The whole intro through that part you're talking about is about a good buddy of mine. He was born on July 4th. We're only about a year apart. Last year, he was diagnosed with cancer. God, he went through a good ten months of chemo. A real shitty experience. I'm driving home one night from San Diego and the fireworks are going off in Disneyland. From my perspective, my life in San Diego was amazing. I was like, "I love California. And Disneyland's right here. Why is my life so great and why is my friend's life so shitty? We grew up together. We drank the same water. Why is he having a near death experience and I'm not?" That whole first verse came out in the car. I got home and wrote it down. He and I agreed that what he was going through was an experience he needed to go through as dangerous as it was. The only way we were going to fix it was to live it and get through it. Fortunately, he conquered it all.

Lindzi.com: What do you think makes a good songwriter?

Jason Mraz: I like surprises. You listen to the radio and, before the song is over, you can sing along with the guy -- the first time you've heard it. I'm not into that because, by the time you hear it the second time, it's boring. I like to hear elements of surprise in a song. Something that takes a lot of turns -- almost too difficult to understand. It takes the listener on a journey. It's almost like a homework assignment. Like, "What was that about?" Then, they go through their life and they try to put it together themselves in their own life situations. I think the listener should be challenged.

Lindzi.com: It seems like you're a dreamer. What's the craziest dream you've had lately?

Jason Mraz: Here's another Disneyland reference. I was at Disneyland and I had a big bag of red cotton candy. My friend wanted blue and I was able to switch half of my red for half a bag of blue. That really excited my friend. So, we sat down to eat it and we were at a huge table. At the other end of the table was me when I was four or five years old. This little me was staring at [the grown] me. Then, [I saw what] looked like my mom -- from twenty years ago. She went up to grab him and make him stop staring at me. It was the weirdest thing. Before I could actually see my mom, I woke up. That was just now. I think that meant that the little me was happy about the life that I'm in right now.

Lindzi.com: What's your favorite childhood memory?

Jason Mraz: Laying in my bed. I had those blinds where they twist down and you can look up. I'd lay in bed looking out the window. It used to scare me seeing outside while I was in bed. I remember looking up at the sky and saying, "Break." I told it to break and, at that moment, this big brash erupted in the sky. Not like lighting. For all I know it could've been a plane. All I know is that it happened on command and it freaked me out. I jumped out of bed and ran and dove under my parents bed. I had trouble sleeping for quite a while. I was afraid of the dark.

Lindzi.com: What were your high school years like?

Jason Mraz: High school years were fun. I was confident. I had strong friends who were creative. We all loved each other and knew we were different. We loved goofing off and showing our creative selves. Because of that, it made it comfortable to be in school. [I'm from] a typical southern town. It was pretty quiet. You would hang out, usually, at a friend's house. Of course, when we were sixteen we were able to drive and we'd go into the city. We felt like city kids and thought we could handle the world. Great place to grow up.

Lindzi.com: What makes you insecure?

Jason Mraz: When you wake up and there's a camera in your face.

Lindzi.com: What's something you've learned about yourself in the last year?

Jason Mraz: That I can do this. I always wondered, "Am I going to be able to pull this off? The last two nights, I've been opening for Dave Matthews Band. I always wondered if I'd be able to do it, but I'm doing it. I'm learning how to go through the process and take the necessary steps to achieve what you need to achieve. It feels good.

Lindzi.com: What's your life philosophy? How do you approach life?

Jason Mraz: One day at a time. I can't think about tomorrow because it's too much. They used to tell me, "Here's your sheet for the week." I was like, "You need to slow down. Tell me later tonight what I have in the morning. Then, I'll sleep on that. Then, in the morning, tell me what I'm doing that day." That way I can pay full attention to each day. One day at a time.

Lindzi.com: What makes you happy?

Jason Mraz: We've been on tour the last three months. I like, at the end of the day, when everybody -- in the crew and in the band -- are relaxing. I like the look on their faces, knowing that we have another day done. I love that everyone's working for the same reason and sharing the love of music. It's nice to see so many people involved. I'm still that same kid who trapped himself in his apartment for three years writing songs. I was in a relationship so I didn't need to go out and meet girls. I had a girl at home. We both had our jobs. I had a great job. I could take my guitar to work. It was a tobacco shop with hardly any customers so I'd play all day. I was curious about what that guitar could do. I enjoyed playing and playing and playing. To now, be out there, on a stage, having Dave Matthews introduce us each night, it's insane.

>> Check him out online at jasonmraz.com >> Top Photo: Allison Dyer >> Bottom Photo: Pamela Littky

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