Mraz returns with cosmic sounds, new friends

Mraz returns with cosmic sounds, new friends

Jason Mraz is returning to China with a show he promises will be "very cosmic".

The American singer-songwriter will perform in Chengdu and Shanghai as part of his world tour, An Acoustic Evening with Jason Mraz and Raining Jane, supporting his latest album, Yes.

He says audiences can expect "a lot of conversation, fun, laughter, harmony and all of our favourite songs".

"Thank you guys for bringing us great energy and gratitude. We can see how happy you are," says Mraz, 37, recalling his debut performances in China as part of his A Four Letter Word tour in 2012.

"This time, we will be bringing the new album to life as well as taking that song landscape and applying it to old songs from my previous records," he says.

His fifth album, Yes, was released last July. It is Mraz's first acoustic album and was created in co-operation with Los Angeles-based rock-folk band Raining Jane. Mraz started touring with Raining Jane as soon as the album was released and he says that the band has added rich dimension to his shows.

"They've been a band for 15 years. They self-manage, they control all their media, they're artists. The beauty of their vocals and what they're doing can't be replicated," he says of Raining Jane, which is composed of vocalist-guitarist-cellist Mai Bloomfield, vocalist-guitarist Chaska Potter, drummer-vocalist Mona Tavakoli and bassist-vocalist Becky Gebhardt. "They have a super specific sound so some of my older songs can now run through the filter of that unique sound."

The Grammy award winner first met Raining Jane about eight years ago and they wrote the song A Beautiful Mess together for Mraz's 2008 album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. After that initial collaboration the friends would get together to write music for fun.

Mraz says the music they were making in 2014 was so good that he demanded it be the next Jason Mraz record.

"Most of the album was written before we knew we were writing an album, so it's really organic," the singer-songwriter says. "It doesn't matter who starts on what instrument or who's singing. I pitched the idea of releasing the album as a side project but people who heard it agreed that it was strong enough to be its own album. And that's how it came to be."

Mraz says his studio sits in the middle of avocado trees and gardens and he and the band like to sit in a circle and create music.

"Being out in nature inspires me as a writer, which is why songs like Back to the Earth will end up on the album," he says.

Ever since Mraz made the "coffee house scene" in San Diego around 15 years ago, he has been captivating audiences with his soulful, folk-pop and positive, joyful messages.

He says he started playing in coffee shops because he likes that people were there really listening to the music and engaging in the conversation.

Mraz also feels excited to know that his music touches people. His song I'm Yours, his first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, is not only one of the biggest commercial successes, it is has also been widely used as a wedding song. One of his new songs, Love Someone, from Yes, has been used by many people to propose.

For Mraz, his life is very routine. He makes sure that he gets enough rest, does exercises and yoga, eats healthy food and rehearses every day.

When not working on music, he is interested in studying sustainable agriculture and urban farming.

He also has non-musical dreams, such as riding a bicycle across the United States, visiting the Arctic and hugging a polar bear.

"I want, in my lifetime, to see humanity start being conscious of our waste and the things we buy and how to reuse and recycle them, and live harmoniously on our planet. That is the top thing on my bucket list. I hope everyone wakes up and appreciates life," he says.

If you go

Date and Time: March30, 7:30 pm

Place: Gymnasium of University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, 2006 Xiyuandadao, Gaoxin district, Chengdu, Sichuan province. 4006-228-228

Date and Time: April 1, 7:30 pm

Place: Shanghai Grand Theater. 1111 Caoxi Beilu, Xuhui district, Shanghai. 4006-228-228.

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