Look for the Good With Jason Mraz
Hello and welcome to episode two hundred, sixty, five of live, happy now. This is follow Phelps and this week. We have a very special guest who has crafted the perfect message for this most unusual year. Since his first hit single the remedy in two thousand two, Jason Meraz has built his musical career by sharing positive uplifting music. This week he's releasing look for the good an album that encourages us to find hope, optimism and gratitude, despite the turmoil were experiencing right now. I sat down with the two time grammy winner to find out how this collection of songs came about what he learned in the process of writing and recording this album and what he hopes, everyone of us takes away from it. Jason Welcome to live happy now and thank you so much for coming on our show. Yeah my pleasure. Thanks for having me. This is a really exciting album to talk about and I'm very excited for our listeners to hear it because it's so timely really does feel like it was written specifically for even the last couple of months. Can you talk about how this whole project came about well on the topic of the songwriting? I, you're saying how it feels so timely. I felt that each. In life there will always be suffering, so we always need to reason to look for the good we always need. Music to hopefully help us cast the darkness away. And at least shift our attention, our perspective back to. Something brighter something more positive something that we can be grateful for so I feel like there's always work to be done in that field, and that's what I try to use my music or the power of good. It's a superpowers. I WANNA. Use It for the power good. I feel like it's we're really. Able to hear that power of good, maybe more than usual because of the current situation, but regardless of the current situation. I'm always trying to write songs that are on the good side of the language. I guess the whole concept of doing the reggae album was many years in the making I always wanted to make a reggae album, but it was obviously GonNa take a right musicianship. The right producer write songs and. About two years ago. I, met Michael Goldwasser. WHO's the producer of this new record? He did a remix for me. He's in the reggae world, and we just became friends, and let's make more music. And, as we started this email collaboration, you know this correspondence relationship. We just started making these songs that we thought were very I'm Lee. For our just call it. Let's call it twenty twenty. We didn't know what was going to happen at twenty twenty. Twenty. Two thousand none of this were expecting miss, but I did know it was going to be an election. Year and election years usually bring out. Brings out the debates and they're very heated. Which is good? It's a good thing because I think it helps us know ourselves, and it helps us here ourselves so. What are we craving? What's working? What's not working so on a debate year I wanted to make sure we released the music. That wouldn't necessarily influence debates, but just would remember us to be kind. Remember us to be. Human and treat the others on the other side of the aisle with dignity and respect regardless of our beliefs, because at the end of the day were all still just these very fragile. Human bodies made up of microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses and things that. Regardless of our political beliefs geographical borders. Let's remember we're human, so that's kind of what the songs were about. Let's just remember that we're human and we're fragile and we should be love for each other yet. What I'm about this is it just reminds you to take a breath, and as you said remember, that is a human and I love the song. My kind and it's such a wonderful job of saying like. Hey, we are all one. That really is a kind of and that we need right now. and. It's just that slate remembering that we're all one you know, and right now with this microorganism virus. That's going around forcing us to be in our homes. Certainly reminds us that we as humans are one, and we are only one species here that if we're not careful, the earth will continue to transform and could potentially do without us, so how precious our material things! How precious our our? Heated debates when it really comes down to the preciousness of human life. Do our material things in our rate of consumption. Does it really matter that much so? It's interesting that we could to slow down right now and feel extra human, but I feel like there's always. Music to give comfort. That's my job is to try to create some, and it's obviously a job. You do very well and that you love, and when I really I love the reggae influence on this and I always feel like reggae is such a great carrier for positivity. Anyway in so, can you talk about why you wanted on that particular set of songs? You mentioned that you had always talked about doing it. How did this become the right fit? I didn't know it was going to be the right fit. It really began his experiment. It was something I wanted to make as a live performer whenever I would. Play a reggae song or I would take convert in an older song of to a reggae style or fashion. I would get a different sensation from it as a performer, and then I would notice, the audience would also connect to it in a different way, so there's something really there's something magical about reggae that causes people to dance and to connect so of explore this more so I made a bunch of songs with Michael Goldwasser as an experiment to see what it would feel like to have A. Of reggae songs and what I found was that in this genre with dance driven. I didn't expect that even songs that I wrote on Guitar Piano. That were quite mellow. They became these dance songs through the power of REGGAE. And dance is is kind of a way to get out of your head and kind of get back to your heart. Get Out of your body a little bit. And as a performer, you pair that with some positive lyric EUCHRE that dance with. And it feels like church in a way and so I'm I'm able to sing a positive message in, but I'm also able to dance on the fringe of ideas that are not as easily sung in traditional poppies. Like the song, my kind for example. which definitely goes into the Scott beat the wreckage on allows me to breathe life, not only into love positivist, but into I think transformation or messaging or The kind of messaging that breathes life into an ever changing world and I've not been able to do that necessarily in the pop category as easily, that makes perfect sense. I really think it has to do with that backbeat in the background music that. When we listen to Reggae we're getting either love, we're getting either spirit or you need some kind of revolution. Of changes occurring. And I feel that's happening right now. You know we need love a revolution as having a biological revolution is happening on this planet, where as humans are shifting our how we're looking at the planet suddenly. And looking at humans as a species more so than just a big political revolution, which is also happening I. Believe Yeah, degree I would say so. Many things got real this year where. Oh, we've got time. We play around with the planet and it's good gotta live for. And I. Think there are a lot of messages that came home to us. This year I like that. Things got real for sure will for you like you have always been. Your music has always been so positive and uplifting, and in that sense, you've always kind of swum upstream from the rest of the industry, because positively isn't necessarily what we get out of. What's playing on the radio? So why has that always been important to you? It starts with the love of performing in love of songwriting like I love singing, and so I became a songwriter because I love to sing, and so if I sit down at an instrument to sing I, just feel joy, so it seems like what should be coming out of my mouth. Is something joyous, not something sad and depressing, and then if I have the luxury of someone's year. And if they're giving me their time in listening I, want to share with them. My Joy, not my sadness. I, always found myself wanting to share joy and I also think writing a happy song is not easy. It requires the finesse, and it requires an understanding of the dark side so. Usually I sit down at a piano to celebrate joy, because life has got dark and out of balance. Aren't they okay? I gotta get to my instruments because that's where joy lives. That's where a bigger spirit in the dwells. So I've just for some reason, joy songs just work better for me. They keep me going. I love that, so your does your positively come to you naturally because on the show a lot, we talk about our negativity bias, and we all have different happiness set point, and some people have to work to think positive, and it seems like maybe you lean that way anyway. Well I do but I have to work at it because I get it your music practice. Get it through some version of creativity. And I do feel like trust me I get! Periods long periods of just melancholy and. Sadness so I will shift music and I will work on music or crafting something creative. Until that melancholy blows over? Rather than. Just sit with the melancholy and start adding extra weight to it. In rather than sitting melancholy and say I am sad. I am no good. All I'm doing is creating. More and more identity around that melancholy, so I work at it I shift I. Go to music. I go to crafting and I just I. write go to journaling. I go to poetry. Until I feel that transformation in that transfers goes. I am a powerful creator. I am worthy I am new. I am renewed. And, all of that comes through the creative process so i. see on the page reflected back to me. Something beautiful are here on the piano. Something coming out beautiful. And it just resets me and I. It's almost like brain doesn't have time to the melancholy more because I don't believe in anymore. That's perfect. Yeah, at what point did you realize? This was the album that needed to be released? Because it sounds like in the beginning, you were just dial. Let's pass some songs back and forth in kind of playing around with it I feel like each song on the record the answer to that question. Is it starts with a handful of songs. Search one song like that's pretty good. Try another one allow. That's pretty good. That's pretty good, and then you get to a point where maybe two? Six seven eight songs, Nick wile away more work and got ten song. That's enough for an album, and then you get to Ted and you realize that only eight of them are good. Okay, a few more songs and so I just kept feeding it in I don't know I've I like making songs in collection so songwriting itself is, but then the next level of trying to categorize those songs, and how they lived together curated into a collection of songs becomes the next part of that scrapbook or that presentation. So. For me, the process is just about loving the music, and at some point I shift from the singular song to a larger body of work. Yeah, because this became almost like a positively concept album you know or A they tied together. They're not necessarily you know consecutive, but everything ties together so well. Yeah, thanks, you know what I feel like. When I make an album, it's the same effort every time, but obviously the year is going to be different. You're my life and who I am in that year and the experiences I've had whatever books I've read. Whatever relationships I'm in our how each ships going. All of those things are going to feed. The creative process and be that out, but. The structure of how I write music, and our right down. My feeling is the same. So what's going to change are those influences. That's outside. Life influences so in trying to write a cohesive album that takes you on a journey that is informative, entertaining, entertaining person, foremost sounds beautiful sounds accessible in relatable, so you'd WanNa, sing to it. All of those things I'm trying to factor in every time, and I feel like because I've made six albums. I'm getting a little better at that process, but what I'm trying to say is I feel like I'm making the same album over and over and over again. But what changes is my perspective on life? Or my age motivations, but always trying to put together hopefully well curated collection of songs that are diverse, but still share some common message in between this album, and my first album is twenty years, and my motivations are way different back in my early years, I'm trying to get the girl I'm trying to be clever. There's a lot more ego involved. It's nice to be at this side of those years. and. Try to think how I can use my superpowers for good, not just serve my ego, not just trying to get the girl. But shines brighter light on many. What I've been up to, and with look for the good at the lead, single swells namely album we're in the writing process. Did that come from? That was actually titled at Michael Goldwasser submitted. Michael was the producer of this album. And he had heard his rabbi. Sermon is look for the good, and you will see the good, so if you go out in the world looking for it, you'll find it same as bad news. Look for the bad and you'll find the bad. It's easy to find so look for the good, and you'll find the good in. So that was a title. He submitted to this project when he sent me an instrumental idea musical idea to work on that was the title and it bit, and all I had to do is sit down and. Expound upon that idea. Which is what I love to do. It's just another version of gratitude when you're asked to look for the good. When you're asked to say, thank you, Hey, what do you think before the first thing we do is? We saw scanning either a memories or our environment for something good because we want to say, thank you for that thing. Or that person that experience in our life. So, look for the good is a song of gratitude and originated from Michael His rabbi. That's excellent, and it's a great leadoff is great way to introduce yourself to this whole collection? Another song that I wanted to talk to you about is you, do you? So that's a great tune I love how it celebrates individuality and. When people listen to that, what do you hope that they here? I joy, always joy freedom enjoy those are my two favorite things, freedom enjoy and. Their favorite, because I've been given those things in life through my parents through the resources through my public school. Just the system was designed for kid like me to have freedom of joy in, so it's been my work in my adult life to make sure others in every other human being also gets to experience freedom. Enjoy, and you do is a song that sort of practices that exercises that that says. Let us all. Be Free to be ourselves, and let's be joyous and let us celebrate each other for each other. Freedoms because we're all going to have a different version of what that feels like. And wrong have different versions of joy. You know there's a lot of different ice cream flavors in pros and food section. And everybody wants something different and. Freedom and joy. That's what I hope people get out of you, do you? That's what I get out of it. Yeah, because I kind of feel like that should be piped into well everywhere right now because we've got so many people trying to say well, you're doing it wrong, or you should be doing this and when I listened to that song. It's like wow, that could be our theme song for this summer. That would be awesome. When I. Sit on a train or subway, and you're just packed with a bunch of people in there. One of my favorite things to do is try to imagine everybody superpower because you just never know who anybody is. You don't know if they're an inventor enough. There are a doctor. You don't know if they're an amazing painter or the most famous poet in the world. But in a train, car or subway, it's just quiet and it's just a bunch of strangers. Your brain could easily go into dark places like Oh that person wants to steal my wallet or that person probably has a cold or you just looking for bad things, right? I enjoy playing the other way and. Trying to imagine the victories in those people's lives. A, beautiful way to approach it. Yeah, and then it also becomes a less scary place. It becomes more of a place where I'm like. Wow, wish that I would kind of come talk to me because I suspect that. They can read my mind or something. I don't know but yeah. It's a fun way to use your imagination. and. I really do look forward to people being able to hear the album when this airs its just a couple of days away from your album release, so we're excited about that, and before we let you go, you know your wish to make the world. A better place certainly doesn't end with your music. So can you tell us a little bit about your foundation? Yes Jason Mraz Foundation something I started back in twenty eleven and. Three years ago I. Really kicked it into year by well twenty seven. We super served many different fields and three years ago. We refocused it to focus specifically on inclusive arts, education and advance equality. And that. Similar to programs that I came up to as a kid. Arts education is just such a great medium for collaboration, and and when you add inclusivity to that arts education, you're not only getting a great arts training, but you're getting compassion, empathy and acceptance. You're learning how to. You basically learning how to sit on that subway or train car and see the good in everybody basically is what inclusive arts education does. And for the purpose of the advancement of equality, because as I said earlier I came up through. Great Public School that made it easy for me to experience freedom, so the Jason's foundation is helping to breathe life into programs that exist as well it create new programs that can hopefully also create experiences of freedom enjoy for young people who are pursuing the arts, so everything from dancers visual artists poets to songwriters singers. You name it. We're out there trying to help them. Get a hand up in the world to experience their freedom joy. That is fantastic well. Thank you for all that you're doing. You're really a lot of people say they WANNA make the world a better place, and you are so actively pursuing that in many ways, and we appreciate you sharing that with us. Thank you my pleasure to share. That was Jason Morass talking about his new album. Look for the good which drops this week. If you'd like to learn more about where to this album or learn more about Jason and his foundation just visit us at live. Happy now, DOT COM and follow the links. And a reminder bring a little bit of happiness to your work day every day with live, happy daily happiness briefing. visit our website for a link to enable this as a skill. Then start your morning by saying Alexa. Give me my live happy daily happiness briefing. That's all we have time today. We'll meet you back here again next week for all new episode, and until then this is Paula Phelps reminding you to make every day a happy one.