Mario has been stealing hearts for over a decade with his charming looks and velvet voice. We’ve seen him go from a boy to a man, going from talking about being “just a friend”, to pleading for a woman to let him love them.
Now, the 30-year-old is preparing to give us more of him with his latest single “I Need More”, the first single off of his upcoming album Paradise Cove. The track is the first we’ve heard from Mario in 3 years.
During his time away from the limelight, he chose to reflect, study, and learn more about creative outlets and processes, and has come back not only with new music, but with his own record label and creative agency (New Citizen).
We caught up with Mario to talk about the importance of keeping up with the times, while at the same time maintaining a sense of timelessness.
Tell us about what went into the production of ‘I Need More’?
The track was inspired by my lifestyle and also from me observing different situations. I had to battle my innerself when it came to living such a materialistic lifestyle, the kind that comes with success. At some point you realize this stuff isn’t enough- it doesn’t fulfill you … you need more.
It’s really a short movie. I just got with my producers and directors and we put our heads and resources together to make it happen.
I think everyone is fighting for more of something- more success, more creativity, more flesh and blood. We’re all fighting. The concept is strength and love and togetherness as we are fighting for whatever it is that we believe in.
This is the first new music we’ve heard from you in about 3 years. What were you doing during that time?
I was still on the road, doing shows and touring. But I also took that time to study things I’m into outside of music that give me creative inspiration and a platform. I think it’s important for artists to have a balance and a break between music and entertainment. It’s important to have some different things going on. I spent some time finding different creative outlets and ways to express myself. I had some deals on the table to make music and do shows, but I knew I wanted to be in the driver’s seat this time around so that’s what I did.
And so you launched your own record/creative label (New Citizen). What’s it like to work on your own terms?
You learn so much more about yourself and about people because know you’re in the driver’s seat. You have to give people your time and be more responsible as an artist and as a business person. I’m excited for what I’m learning, and what I’m in the process of building. I’m ready for it- I’ve been in the game for a while. There’s not as much red tape as there was when I first started- you can cut a song at night and have it out that night or the next morning if you want to. There’s this space to directly connect with your fans (through online and social media).
Are there artists you and your label are looking at developing?
I have some producers I’m working with that I’m using to help develop some other artists. I have an artist in Korea I’m working closely with right now. She’s poppin over there and we really want to develop her and get her name out over here. But yes we’re definitely looking at expanding. I think if we’re able to succeed and build a solid infrastructure, then we can bring on more and more new artists.
As far as your music is concerned, what’s the timeline looking like for your album and a tour?
We’re almost done with the album, so I expect that at the top of the year the album should be released. I’ll have another single out before this year is up other than “I Need More”. I honestly had a few offers to being a tour and shows right now, but I just feel that it’s a disservice to my fans to do a tour before I have new music out for them. But it’s coming.
We know you for your R&B, but in reality, what kind of music are you listening to these days?
I listen to a bit of everything. I like to see the new artists taking off. Right now I’ve been playing a lot of Kehlani, FKA Twigs, Travis Scott, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae, and James Blake. As far as the classics, I listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder.
A lot of artists having been capitalizing on the element of surprise (releasing music and visuals with no promo). Do you plan on doing that with all of this new content you have coming up?
Not particularly. Honestly, I have so many different ideas for the roll out of all this material, but things change.I don’t have a set idea on how I’ll release the next record, album, announce the tour, etc.. Personally, I put more thought and effort into the actual work versus the roll out of it, but if it makes sense to partner with a certain brand or outlet to release it, then why not. I feel like if the material is dope enough, it’ll take on it’s own life and no matter how it’s released, it’ll be well received.