There’s only one answer that matters, even if your heart has been shattered. Whatever you want, whatever you are after, love is still the answer.
If you’re a diehard Jason Mraz fan, you’ll recognise these lyrics at once. If there’s one thing Mraz wants listeners to take away from his latest album, Know, it’s the message of this very song: love is still the answer.
Ahead of his concerts in Hong Kong on May 17 and 18, Young Post had a chat on the phone with Mraz about his new music, his creative process, and his dedication to social issues.
The 41-year-old American has always had his own questions about life and its countless puzzles. Sometimes they weigh him down and become, as he puts it, a kind of suffering that he must constantly endure.
One such conundrum is the destruction of the environment; another is international relations.
“I don’t understand why this whole planet isn’t powered by the sun yet … I wish there were a unanimous effort by world leaders to work together on solving that,” he says. “I also don’t understand how war serves us. I don’t understand that, it makes me sad.”
But when he’s upset, Mraz goes to his journal and writes about it, or sits down at the piano and comes up with chord sequences that reflect his emotions.
“Creativity is a healer, and music is the greatest weapon we have in the war against unhappiness,” says Mraz. He credits his happy disposition to being given the opportunity to do what he loves: create music.
Mraz now often finds himself carrying that phrase – “love is still the answer” – around like an anthem that his heart beats to. “The next thing that you’re going to do might be uncomfortable, but wait! Love is still the answer. Greet the next situation with love,” the singer says with enthusiasm. “Love is still the answer. That’s always going to be my message.”
In our 13-minute interview, Mraz mentions the word “love” 26 times. And although his philosophy might feel out of place in a world that can be grim at times, he continues to find beauty in life by creating art.
“Creativity is kind of a microcosm of life itself … I feel like whenever I write a song, I’m participating in the continual evolution of the big bang, where something was created from nothing,” he says.
The singer points out that humans are the only species that can put rhythm, tone, melody, and key together and create music – a fact that never ceases to amaze him.
“Music is able to transform people, make us cry and unite us. That to me is reason enough to be inspired to create more,” says Mraz.
But he is also inspired by positive social movements taking place around the world. When asked about the recent Schools Strike for Climate Action campaign being led by students worldwide, including in Hong Kong, he is keen to voice his support.
“I love that! When we over-consume resources, we’re taking from young people. So their future depends on our actions today … Some of the young people in the US are actually suing the US government for stealing their precious future, and I think that’s brilliant,” he says.
As well as taking better care of the planet, Mraz points out that there are small acts of love that we can practise every day.
“It could be a smile to total strangers, rather than just a blank stare … It could be a hello to a homeless person, because – more than money – sometimes the person in the street just wants dignity, they want to feel seen, alive, and heard.”
The singer’s activism doesn’t stop with making suggestions on how to make the world a more pleasant place. He wants to show his listeners that they have the power to make change happen.
“In the not-too-distant future, I do plan on having a song that I feel is more vocal about voting [in political elections] … basically about how simply showing up can already help create a debate.”
Doing good equals feeling good, the singer concludes. And if there were more of that in the world, he says, “Maybe governments and leaders would be kinder to their people, maybe there would be more humanitarians running the world, and maybe we would have a more cooperative relationship with nature.”