Jared Mahone attempted to write, record and upload a new song each week throughout 2010, and while the Columbus singer-songwriter didn’t reach his goal, he did come out of The Mixtape Project with more than he bargained for.
“I wasn't trying to write 52 pop songs,” Mahone said. “I was just trying to find ways to get inspired and be creative.”
Fans could subscribe to Mahone’s weekly posts and build their own mixtapes out of his demos. Then he’d take the fan favorites and make an album out of them. He compared the process to playing open mics, stand-up comedy and oil painting — presenting ideas with room to revise: “It was nerve wracking to be in that position, to say, ‘Here's just an incomplete idea. What do you think about it?’”
He figured he’d make a simple, acoustic-driven record that reflected the songs’ spare beginnings. But what started as one man’s creative outpouring became a group project.
Partway through The Mixtape Project, Mahone met Matt Crumpton, a lawyer with a passion for the kind of friendly folk-pop Mahone specializes in. Crumpton became a cheerleader for Mahone and hooked him up with O.A.R. saxophonist Jerry DePizzo to produce the album.
Mahone and DePizzo intended to record the album in one weekend, but when some of the other tenants in Grandview’s 1305 Artists building heard the sessions, they suggested a bigger, fuller treatment. So a slew of musicians expanded Mahone’s songs into blustery horn-powered stompers, wispy ballads and effervescent smile pop.
The product of all that input, Mixtape, finally emerged last month thanks to Kickstarter funding. A release party is set for Saturday at King Avenue Live. It’s a pop album in the truest sense, glossy and full of mass appeal. And while some might find it saccharine, it’s going over well with fans of The Mixtape Project.
“You release these things that people become attached to, and once you change them, are you honoring the people that you release them to in the first place?” Mahone said. “So far it's been really accepted.”