Jason Mraz is a singer with a difference — he uses his status to inspire others to live sustainably, writes Bibi Nurshuhada Ramli
WITH a successful career already in his grasp, he has achieved rock star status but his lifestyle says otherwise.
Jason Mraz lives a vegan life, owns an avocado farm, engages in humanitarian efforts, and even went on an expedition to Antarctica — not what you usually hear about most celebrities.
“To be able to investigate what the world is up to, to help a number of charities, to have the time, energy and funds to live on a solar-powered avocado farm and cultivate food, do my part to live sustainably and hopefully one day inspire others to do the same.
“That, to me, is a rock star!” he says, with a laugh in a phone interview recently. “It’s a new paradigm.”
In April, Mraz launched his highly anticipated fourth album Love Is A Four Letter Word, which spawned the hit single I Won’t Give Up.
He will be making his way to Asia for his promotional tour this month, and fans can catch him in concert on June 19 at Stadium Merdeka.
Musically, he credits his authenticity for his success. “I define success as happiness and I experience it every day — whether it is playing music, spending time with loved ones, eating healthy food, working on my garden, painting or riding a bike
“I’m always growing, learning, making mistakes and asking questions — being vulnerable instead of posing as a star. I strive to be universal as well.”
He adds that he doesn’t just throw around his talent for people to stare at, but rather he invites them to join him on his journey. That’s why he has a strong bond with fans.
His music is light-hearted with meaningful lyrics, but his inspiration comes from “pain, heartache, fear of death and separation people feel from each other”.
“It’s the darkness that inspires me to sing songs of hope, peace and love that can hopefully transform someone’s day.”
He tells us more:
Your music is very positive, so how do you respond to cynics who brush off the messages in your songs?
Each person perceives things in his own way. Cynics can’t relate to what I sing about, so they don’t want to hear it. I’m fine with that. I’ve never forced my messages on anyone. Instead, I make an offer. Hopefully, everybody’s got the attitude that best serves them.
Which track on your latest album is dearest to your heart?
I like singing Who’s Thinking About You Now? It’s fun to sing, I love the sentiments. It’s a sweet song and also very direct.
Are any of the songs inspired by your experiences?
Every single one. I can’t sit down and write without emotions coursing through me or my itching to pick up the guitar. If there’s any philosophy in my songs, I’ve learned it from my own study through yoga class.
You have a new band touring with you.
It’s a nine-piece band and a phenomenal — world-class in fact — group of musicians. They bring to my music a fresh new taste. We have a violinist, so that’s a new sound.
What did you bring back from your experience in Antarctica?
I brought back the energy to work a lot harder at living sustainably and in harmony with the planet. Earlier, I became very concerned with how much I was travelling, knowing that I was contributing to the climate crisis based on the amount of energy I was consuming in my everyday life.
So I started a tree-planting project in hopes of not only offsetting the carbon footprint but also cooling the planet and helping various communities. I also planted peaches to empower humans to care for the planet.
I’m taking further steps to reduce energy consumption in my home, and am speaking out more often about reducing, reusing, recycling, reburbishing, reapplying, repairing — doing everything we can to live in delicate balance.
In Antarctica, you can see dramatically how things have changed for the planet. That’s a cause for concern. Rather than being an alarmist, I’d rather be an activist — plant food in my backyard, ride a bicycle, lobby for public transportation, bio-fuel and organic food, and use renewable energy.
What else would you like to achieve in your career?
I keep asking myself that. At the moment, I’ve certainly achieved more than I have ever imagined, even beyond my wildest dreams. I’d love to keep making music and being able to inspire through my songs. My albums come out every four years, so it’d be nice if I can speed up that process a little bit.
What’s your advice to budding artistes?
Find a good manager (laughs). I mean find a partner who can help you be an artiste. Be yourself and perform and share your own life experience. Your vulnerability and strength will help others see their own.
Tell your story and take your time. When you are performing with your guitar, you have made it. You are an artiste when you are one with your music, not with an audience. Enjoy the art.
Win meet-and-greet passes
DON’T miss out on Jason Mraz’s Tour Is A Four Letter Word concert on June 19. Eight lucky fans will get to meet Mraz in person as every 200th concert ticket (up to 1,600th) will win an exclusive backstage meet-and-greet pass.
Tickets are on sale at AirAsiaRedTix. Call 03-8775 4666 or visit www.AirAsiaRedtix.com. Also available at Rock Corner outlets, Victoria Music outlets and KL Life Centre.
Priced from RM95 to RM345 for numbered arena seating and RM75 and RM235 for terrace free seating.
For each Love Is A Four Letter Word album sold from now until July 30, Warner Music Malaysia and Jason Mraz Foundation will donate RM3 to a local charity home.