Ann Arbor, Michigan native and longtime eclectic DJ/producer Andrew Cohen, onetime member of the rap groups Athletic Mic League and Now On, began recording soul-seeped material as something of a joke, but didn't plan to have it reach beyond his circle of friends and family.
Mayer Hawthorne, the pseudonym Cohen used for the songs, eventually took on a life of its own. When a couple of Hawthorne songs were played for Peanut Butter Wolf, the Stones Throw label head was baffled; he initially thought he was hearing re-edits of obscure late-'60s/early-'70s soul singles, not the work of a multi-instrumentalist who laid everything down himself. Subsequently signed to Stones Throw, Cohen debuted Hawthorne with "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" b/w "When I Said Goodbye," a pair of scratchy and bittersweet tales of heartache on red heart-shaped 7" vinyl. A 12" featuring a cover of New Holidays' obscure 1969 single "Maybe So Maybe No" followed shortly thereafter, preceding the full-length A Strange Arrangement, released in October 2009. After a live set (Stones Throw Direct to Disc #1) and a couple single releases, Hawthorne released his second album, How Do You Do, for Universal Republic in October 2011. Where Does This Door Go followed on the label in 2013 and added some '70s and '80s flavors to the singer's mix of retro sounds. A collaborative synth-pop band with Texas-based rappers 14K called Jaded was announced the following year and they released their debut album, The Big Knock, in the summer of 2014. A second collaborative project, this time with Seattle hip-hop producer Jake One, arrived shortly afterward. Under the name Tuxedo, they released their retro synth-soul debut via Stones Throw in early 2015. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi