Tuxedo Talks Old-School Mixtapes, Gold Record Plaques and Suiting Components | Listen Up!

Photo by Kyle Johnson

Parties crack and moods lift to the sounds of Tuxedo, the west coast duo whose 1980s funk is inspired by the past and crystalized in the present by Mayer Hawthorne (Andrew Cohen) and Jake One (Jake Dutton). If the group’s eponymous album is not in your summer music rotation already, we recommend it.

The singer and producer are old friends and hip-hop collaborators. They’re both deejays, too, and initially bonded over mixtapes each had made focusing on artists like Bernard Wright and David Grusin. The shared affinity is central to Tuxedo.

We spoke to them on tour about how Tuxedo fits into this current retro moment in pop (Mark Ronson, Daft Punk) and which piece from their custom Klein Epstein Parker tuxedos Jake One accidentally left at home with 30 minutes to showtime.

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Mayer Hawthorne: What’s the point of matching tuxedos when one of us leaves his cummerbund at home?

Jake One: It feels like a girdle.

Mayer Hawthorne: That’s the whole point.

Nordstrom blogs: So those early mixtapes really made you decide to start a group?

Jake One: We even had the same songs on them.

Mayer Hawthorne: We exchanged those mixtapes when we met. He had AR Music and I had Shoot the Duck. Those mixtapes had some of the same songs on them, it was crazy. It wasn’t like popular songs. Nobody else was listening to that.

Jake One: I did the first one 2003.

So if someone were to lump you in with what Mark Ronson’s doing now, which is inspired by a similar and you could say adjacent sound, that’s just a coincidence, since you were working with this music so long ago?

Jake One: It’s just timing. Honestly it helps us more than anything, so I don’t have a problem with it.

Mayer Hawhorne: It pushed us to get this album out.

Jake One: When [Daft Punk’s] “Get Lucky” came out, I called [Mayer Hawthorne] and was like, are you hearing this? We have 20 songs better than this.

Mayer Hawthorne: Like, Damn, we should’ve put this out.

Why didn’t you put it out before this retro/disco/electro-funk revival?

Mayer Hawthorne: I was on tour 200 days a year. Jake was producing for Rick Ross and 50 Cent and everyone in the game. I don’t know, man.

Jake, is it funny for you to be in a starring role in a group? You’re normally a background player, and I’ve seen you play basketball: your game could be called “workmanlike.”

Jake One: I’m a shooter. I get shots up. As far as being in a group and wearing tuxedos, it’s a trip. My whole thing with music is consistency. I’ve been at this ten years. I’ve put plaques on my wall, went around the world. I don’t have to say it. The music is supposed to speak for itself. The thing that’s so dope about this record is that I’ve been in a place when I’ve been trying to compete. But we literally did this purely for fun. And that’s what makes it so good. So it reinforces that love for me.

Mayer Hawthorne: You gotta do what you love, and what’s fun for you.

–Andrew Matson