To promote the release of his latest single “New Light”, John Mayer sat down for an in-depth interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1.
During the freewheeling conversation, Mayer touched on everything from why fame is like a Segway and his impressions of Kanye West and Shawn Mendes, who he jokingly describes as “John Mayer 2.0.”
“Shawn’s just a better version of me in a lot of ways,” Mayer tells Lowe. “Shawn’s like John Mayer 2.0, without the weird software viruses. It’s like, I was a beta version of a celebrity and he’s just a better. He’s a better version of a celebrity than I ever was. He’s not as volatile, but I like where I’ve ended up, put it that way. Now that everything’s sort of flattened out and we’ve levelled out at cruising altitude, it’s lovely. I feel like my ambitions have settled down. I’ve retired from a certain type of ambition, which I think is right.”
As for retiring from ambition, Mayer explains using a digital downloading analogy. “You ever download a file, but it doesn’t tell you how big the file is, it just tells you how many megs you’re downloading, and you’re like, ‘How big is the file?’ And it’ll be like, 4.5 megs of question mark and then you’ll get that striped bar… You don’t know when you’re growing up, what the limit of what is available to you is, so your whole concept is world domination,” he says.
“I think it’s a very simple mistake now,” he adds. “It’s a very simple miscalculation to go, ‘Well, I’ve got so much, but maybe it’s just one-tenth of what I could have.’ Here’s another analogy for you: I used to have a Segway. Everybody wipes out on a Segway once, but only once, because then you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s how far forward I can tip.’ You fall off it and the thing keeps going and you go, ‘OK.’ Well, that’s fame.”
During the interview, Mayer also marvels about Kanye West’s boundless creativity. “One of the first times I saw him in the studio he had a laptop in his arm, and he said, ‘Listen to this.’ It was an instrumental of ‘Gold Digger’ and he rapped a long to it perfectly, it was perfect. I’ve just heard him do stuff. So Kanye’s thing, I don’t want pretend like I know him super well but I don’t imagine this changes in somebody as a creative. The veil that hangs between what you know and what you don’t in terms of creating for him is so frigging thin that I understand his excitement artistically because he can pull anything into existence that he wants,” says Mayer.
“He is maybe the greatest summoner of of creative energy,” he continues. “I’ve seen him do it. It’s a magic trick. You know who’s really good too? Chance the Rapper. Shawn is really good at it too. Kanye is the best at it in terms of sitting in a room with a thing he doesn’t have and going and coming back with a thing. Within seconds. He’s fearless.”
You can check out the entire interview in the video above.