Rising vocalist, songwriter and instrumentalist Michael Mayo has released the stunning autobiographical single/music video for “20/20” along with the announcement of his genre-defying, highly personal debut solo album Bones on June 4th via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records. CLICK HERE to watch the “20/20” music video. CLICK HERE to pre-save Bones. Tracklisting below. Though classically trained, Mayo’s original music is a seamless blend of alternative and neo-soul elements, as evidenced on the album’s introductory singles “The Way” and “You and You,” released in 2020. All tracks for Bones were cut live with Mayo’s band — keyboardist Andrew Freedman, bassist Nick Campbell and drummer Robin Baytas — at Figure8 Recordings in Brooklyn and were produced by veteran Grammy-winning producer Eli Wolf [Al Green, Norah Jones, The Roots].
Each of the songs on Bones represents a learning experience for Mayo, the building blocks (“Bones”) that made him the person he is today. Part of the process of making Bonesinvolved Mayo publicly owning his own bisexuality. In many ways, the collection serves as a letter to himself after years of lying to others about who he truly was and felt. Bones affirms you can live authentically, and not be afraid to express it. Having no black bisexual role models growing up, Michael hopes he can be that person for someone now and that one day we won’t have to “come out” but coexist with our differences. There are several notable dualities in Bones: the juxtaposition of a cappella vocals and electronic effects, the “You and You” of bisexuality, the interplay of words and sounds, the tug between R&B, neo-soul and jazz, the spontaneity of improvisation set against the dictates of classical structure.
“In many ways, this album is a letter to myself,” Michael confesses. “I was in the closet for years, lying about who I truly was and felt. This album affirms you can live authentically, and not be afraid to express it. Bisexuality is still not taken seriously by a lot of the LGBTQ community. I had no black bisexual role models growing up, so maybe I can be that person for someone now. The eventual goal is to not have to come out, for everyone to just coexist with our differences.”
Like Bobby McFerrin, one of his major influences, Mayo approaches his voice as a musical instrument, but in often unexpected ways – with Brian Wilson-style pop harmonies (“Robot Man”), Stevie Wonder R&B (“Another Love”), drum and bass (“What’s My Name”) and even hip-hop (“About Your Love”). “I listened to Pet Sounds a lot in college,” he admits, also pointing to Brandy as an early favorite. “But I also grew up on A Tribe Called Quest, the Fugees, Busta Rhymes, Biggie Smalls and J Dilla. I love his beats so much. It feels like home. They all seem inherently connected. I like connecting all these different genres. Why not mix them all together and see what happens?”
With Bones, MichaelMayo turns the ideas in his head into a full-fledged sonic universe that reflects an upbringing surrounded by music, and the freedom he has fought so hard to achieve in his work and life.
Bones Track Listing:
- The Way
- You and You
- Another Love
- Stolen Moments
- About Your Love
- Silver and Gold
- Robot Man
- What’s My Name
- Hold On feat. Scott Mayo and Valerie Pinkston