On Sunday, Feb. 15 multi-platinum, Grammy Award winning singer and actor Mario stopped by Minneapolis on his Fireball Tour. Insight News was able to sit down for the following exclusive interview.
AS: Is this the “Fireball” Tour you are on right now?
Mario: This is the “Fireball” Promo Tour right now. We just came back to L.A. last week and started. It’s been going great so far. Fans are real excited about new record. Everybody’s been hearing about the new label that I helped develop. It’s a digital distribution label where we’re able to distribute digitally to 6 billion smart phones worldwide. This is an unprecedented deal for me. I’m really excited about connecting my fans worldwide and each region having specific promo to that market.
AS: So is this an independent deal and how does it differ from how you’ve approached music in the past?
Mario: I mean, I wouldn’t call it independent because I still have a staff and still have a label. It’s just not Sony or any of the typical big labels. It’s more of a universal worldwide type of deal. I would say the difference is just being able to touch my fans from here to Asia simultaneously.
AS: How many records is this for you?
Mario: This will be my fifth project.
AS: What’s the difference between this project and your previous albums, musically?
Mario: I would say the organic feel and vibe of it. It’s completely organic bro, just the whole approach to it. Where (before) you would get a budget from a label and they would put you in with this producer or that producer or this studio or that studio. A lot of this project I recorded out of the house. It’s getting mixed at professional studios but it’s super organic because it came from home. I’m more involved in the creative process. It’s a completely new way of creating music for me than I’ve done in the past. It’s not quote, unquote genre related it’s just making great music and I’ll let the fans and critics decide what genre they think it is.
AS: Is this a live band album?
Mario: I wouldn’t say live band but there are a lot of live elements such as guitars, strings, drums that are specific to each record.
AS: How much are you involved in the production process? Are you making the beats as well?
Mario: I let great producers do what they do. Me and my team oversee the process but I let producers do what they are great at and I try not to get in their way. I do my job as a vocalist while understanding the importance of the marriage between the song’s music, the lyrics, and melody. When it comes together it’s amazing. A lot of the new songs start with just guitar.
AS: What can people expect when they come out to see you live?
Mario: Man, I think I’ve been blessed with a great voice. I try to make sure my fans leave feeling connected to me in a new way. Expect to see live music and hear real vocals. Just entertainment in general.
AS: You’re B-More (Baltimore). How did that affect your approach on music?
Mario: I’m from Baltimore … born and raised. I think the soul and my first album being young had a big effect on my record. Songs like “Braid My Hair” and “Just A Friend” was about being young, being from Baltimore, you know I had cornrows in my hair, that type of thing. As I evolved and started traveling my music evolved. It’s a bit more universal now. “Fireball” has a bit of the soul, a bit of the grit, and being young and having fun. The project as a whole you are going to get a mix or all around great songs.
AS: I think that speaks volumes. My first time hearing you was with “Just A Friend.” I wasn’t feeling R&B at the time. You were one of the people to cross the boundaries between R&B, soul, and hip-hop. What influenced you in that way?
Mario: I grew up on everything. My mom raised me on Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Boyz II Men, Stevie Wonder, etc. My grandmother listened to Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, all of these different vibes.
AS: Any advice for up and coming artists trying to follow their passion?
Mario: Absolutely man. I think the most important thing about being an artist is your team. Make sure you practice your craft and that this is something you really want to do because you have to make yourself available all the time and you have to be focused.
Follow Mario on Instagram and Twitter at @OhYesMario.
The new single “Fireball” is available now online.