That Grape Juice Interview: Mario

Published: Tuesday 4th Dec 2007 by Sam
I was fortunate enough to conduct a phone interview with R&B star Mario this past November. Now on the verge releasing his third studio album ‘Go!’, the singer spoke frankly on a number of topics including his mother’s cocaine addicition, record label drama and comparions to other R&B artists. It’s a long, yet great read. Enjoy. {Drop a comment and let me know what you think} 🙂

Sam: Hey Mario, how are you doing?

Mario: I’m good. How are you?

Sam: I’m great. Just got this interview here I wanted to get done with you.

Mario: For sure, I’m glad we’re able to do it.

Sam: It’s great to finally be able to catch up with you.

Mario: Thank you. I’m currently on the East Coast at the moment. I’ll actually be back in Europe next month (December).

Sam: Cool. So let’s crack on. Having signed your first deal at the tender age of fourteen with the legendary Clive Davis; how does it feel to still have your records anticipated – especially in light of the ever-changing nature of the music industry?

Mario: I mean, I think it’s about making classic records; and I think it’s because I’ve made great records that people are, definitely, anticipating more success and great music – as they should, because I’m going to give it to them. But it feels good; this is a dream of mine. When I go and sit down and talk to Clive and look at the pictures he has with some damn near early 70’s/late 60’s (artists), it hits me how he has been in the game for so long. To be signed with him and to be on his label, it’s great. So we’re gonna keep making some great records.

Sam: Your new album ‘Go!’ sees you embrace a much more ‘adult’ sound compared to your past efforts, for example ‘Lay In Bed’ and the CD’s title track. Was there a particular reason for this? Did you have any doubts considering your fan-base?

Mario: To be honest with you, I’m 21 now, so a lot of the fans that were coming to my shows then are 21 or possibly older now; in general, I think I have a wide fan-base. I feel this record shows natural growth. It’s not talking about literally bending a chick over or doing all that (laughs). It does hint at that intimacy and shit that we go though everyday. Even a record like ‘Go’. (‘Go’) is a very assertive record; talking about just really having fun and being young and not being one of them cats always trying to ‘game’ chicks or play games with them – just really letting them know what it is. I’m letting people know how I feel about what I’m seeing. It’s all fun. It’s music; we create music for entertainment, yet at the same time we also give a hint of who we are as well.

Sam: Let’s talk delays. ‘Go!’ has experienced several changes in its release date, having initially been set to drop back in 2006. Why has it taken so long to release the record?

Mario: Well, first of all, the initial date for the album was the label’s date. I wasn’t ready. You know, the album wasn’t done; it took an additional three to four months to get certain records done. Then we just kept finding great records as the album got close(r) to release. It’s a fight that the artist has with the label. I’m not asking people to understand the politics of the game; but, it’s some shit that we deal with. It hurts. To be honest with you, it hurts me more than it hurts my fans because I am disappointing some of my fans and I really don’t like to disappoint them. It’s the nature of the business, you know. But the album is coming out December 11th and that’s the final date, so I’m very excited about that. {Click to listen to Mario’s response}

Sam: That’s great. What producers and guest features can we expect to hear on the album?

Mario: As of right now, I’ve got Rich Boy, Juelz Santana on the project. I’ve got a lot of producers that I’ve worked with on the project; from Pharrell to Timbaland to Polow Da Don – who we have the single out right now ‘Crying Out For Me’ – Akon and my production team the Knightwritaz.

Sam: Yes, I’ve heard about Knightwritaz. Could you tell me a little about the Knightwritaz?

Mario: For sure. We got two records on this project. We’ve been working together for about a year now. Knightwritaz is a team that when I met them, I just jumped into partnership with them and started helping them write. I just like the vibe that they’ve got going on. Everyone is real young and hungry; Sterling (Simms) is an artist and Marsha Ambrosius (of Floetry) is an artist. Just a very talented group of people. Like I said before, I came in a little later; they all knew each other and were a collective already. I came and started working with them – the chemistry has been pretty good since.

Sam: Are there particular moments that stick in your mind about the recording process (i.e. funny, emotional etc)

Mario: Probably recording ‘Go’ because that record kinda came about in a real life type of way. We were in the studio on South Beach- me and Pharrell- coming up with the idea of how we wanted the track to be. We look out the window and we can see chicks running down the street and everybody getting crazy. We, then, decided to take a break from the studio; the song’s hook had been done already. So we went on South Beach and chilled, partied it up. It kinda gave us a different vibe to go back into the studio with to make the record and it just came out dope. That was just real fun, because a lot of the time when you go into the studio, you don’t have that vibe, it’s real quiet and has a studio atmosphere. But not on South Beach, with everything going on. It was real cool.

Sam: Your current single ‘Crying Out For Me’ has been a fan favourite since surfacing last year. Which track(s) from the album are your personal favourites and why?

Mario: Ah man, ‘Crying Out…’ is definitely one of my favourite records – it’s a very passionate record. I always make passionate records, but ‘Crying Out…’ has that edge to it, a little more swagger to it. It’s not your regular Stargate ‘radio-sounding’ record; it’s more hard-hitting, more musical, different instruments, different sounds. Very entertaining to the ear.

Sam: Can I ask you something? Stargate produced ‘How Do I Breathe’, was it your choice for it to be the album’s first single or would you have preferred, perhaps, something like ‘Crying Out…’ instead.

Mario: I definitely wasn’t on board with ‘How Do I Breathe’. That was a Clive Davis call.

Sam: In terms of future singles, what can we look forward too?

Mario: Yeah, ‘Music For Love’ and ‘Skippin’’. It may change, but as of right now..

Sam: Moving on, many were surprised to learn of your mother’s 20 year addiction to heroin during your recent MTV special ‘I Won’t Love You to Death’.
– How do you feel that has affected you growing up and development into a man now?

Mario: It’s had its negatives and had it’s positives in terms of just being responsible, making good decisions and staying away from drugs. I saw it firsthand, so it was always something I wasn’t interested in.

Sam: Did you have any reservations about coming open with the situation?

Mario: I did, but at the same time I didn’t because it was already out there – people just didn’t talk about it much. To me you can’t be ashamed of where you come from. Where you come from and what you’ve been through is what makes you. No one can tell ‘your’ story better than you. It’s not a reality show, its real talk, real shit. 87% of the households in America, be it upper class, middle or lower, are suffering from substance abuse. {Click here to listen to Mario’s response}

Sam: How is your mother doing now?

Mario: She’s doing great. She can tell you herself; she’s writing a book.

Sam: That’s great.

Mario : Yep

Sam: What do you think separates you and your music from that of other male R&B artists out there?

Mario: What separates me, (is that) I am who I am. Nobody could ever be me and I can’t be anyone else. I hate when people ask me that question…

Sam: (laughs)

Mario: …what do you mean “what separates me”. Many couldn’t walk in my shoes. Don’t even let me get started. I can’t be compared to other artists. Musically, I just feel like a lot of the music I make is timeless, whereas a lot of other artists have ‘right now’ songs. My music is timeless. I make timeless records. When you hear my records, you know it’s me right off the bat. Whereas with someone else, you might sit there wondering who it is for a second. With me, you know my records, you hear that passion, that drive. Also, the way I do my records, the way I do my songs, the way they feel. Vocally, they’re very creative. It’s a lot of things a lot of detailed things.

Sam: With a significant number of tracks from your album having hit the net already, what’s your take on the internet and its effect on the music industry?

Mario: To be honest with you, the first time I saw one of my songs on the internet, I was very upset. I wanted to fire somebody, I wanted kick somebody’s ass, break some fucking walls and windows. What you’ve got to realize is that there’s a whole other world out there. That’s my take on it. I can go on the internet in my hotel room and stay on that shit for hours. I even go on there to listen to new music sometimes, but I still go out and buy the albums. So I think that it creates the awareness of what’s out there, what he/she is doing. I can do something right now and, if I want people to hear it, put it up on the internet.

Sam: So would you say its impact has been more positive or negative?

Mario: I think it’s an even cut. It’s just as positive as it is negative.

Sam: Having already stared in the critically acclaimed film ‘Freedom Writers’, as well as dance flick ‘Step Up’, do you have plans to do more movies?

Mario: Yeah I have a lot more plans. I’m just working towards them and wielding through the all projects to find that one project for you and the project that they want you in. It has to be a mutual thing between me and the studio making the movie.

Sam: Ok, several of our female readers wanted to know if you currently have anyone special in your life. Do you?

Mario: Well, I don’t have a girlfriend, but I do date. (I’m) just finding time to do the personal thing.

Sam: Apart from (laughs), do you log onto other music blogs, forums etc?

Mario: that’s where it is! I go to Youtube, Concrete Loop and Google is one of my favourite sites.

A few quick random questions:

Sam: What’s on your iPod right now/ what are you listening to right now?

Mario: I’m listening to Jay-Z’s new album (‘American Gangster’), The Beatles, the Bee Gees, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder…

Sam: Any Michael Jackson?

Mario: Absolutely. (You can hear) Michael is definitely on the album (laughs).

Sam: Who would you want to work with on a dream collaboration?

Mario: I want to do a record with Kanye. I’ve got a record that I want Jay-Z to get on called ‘Give It To Me’, its not on this album though. Beyonce also; I’d like to do a duet with her. Quincy Jones too.

Sam: So on an ‘off-day’, what do you do to relax?

Mario: Probably, surf the internet.

Wrap Up:

Sam: Describe ‘Go!’ in three words?

Mario: Eclectic, soulful and… fly!

Sam: Do you plan on touring with the album? I know heard something about you touring with Kelly Rowland.

Mario: We’re not going to get into that. She, erm…(long pause). It was supposed to happen…

Sam: (laughs)

Mario: I’ll be touring Europe and Australia through December and coming back to the States in February.

Sam: Any message for the fans?

Mario: Act out of choice, rather than out of habit. Go buy my album December 11!

Sam: Thanks very much for your time. Best of luck with the album.

Mario: Thank you.


Be sure to pick up ‘Go!’ when it hits stores on December 10th (Europe) / December 11th (US)


What do you think of the interview?

Posted under:

Comments 22

Please Post Your Comments & Reviews

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Monique December 4, 2007

    Good read. I love Mario and I also wish him best of luck w/the new album. I saw him live when he opened up for DC in 2005 and he’s a great performer.

  2. Mark December 4, 2007

    hey Sam,

    really like your interviews, they are always really relaxed… not a massive Mario fan, but still a good read. Keep It Up!


  3. christos December 4, 2007

    excellent interview, and what a person to do it with! keep it up mate, impressed 🙂

  4. Anonymous December 4, 2007

    Hey Sam,

    your interviews are always really great.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone but it’s a shame you always get interviews with (yes, taelnted) but non-popular artist that nobody pays attention too.

    As much as I like GO! no denying the flop it will be, it came out in November on the internet for crist sakes.

    Soory Mario, your gonna flop big big time. But… he seems cool. Next time try to get Rihanna (althought seeing as she is huge and your always ragging on her she would probably decline) try to get a big name star. I don’t enjoy reading on flopstars.

  5. Anonymous December 4, 2007

    great interview, in-depth and honest. I love mario, I wish he weren’t so underrated.

  6. nerd December 4, 2007

    to the third anonymous, first of all why are you saying he gonna flop. you don’t eveb know that for sure, what give you the right to lable him as unsucessful celebrity? that is just harash and rude. i mean at least sam is interview someone right? He trying to keep up us up-to-date. Most of the time the celebrity that our big our either stuck up or doesn’t have the time to be interview by small site, radio or whatever service. If you don’t enjoy reading it why read it, your stupid to even wanting to read it. dumb people these day

  7. Kendra December 4, 2007

    I loved the inerview I think that he is a real talent. Real cool dude

  8. Anonymous December 4, 2007

    Agreeing with the person above about 3rd Anon.. there is no need for you to give Rihanna that much credit cuz she aint all that. Mario is not gunna flop so that s*** is disrespectful and if u really feel that way i would like to see u get on a label at 14/ 15 yrs. have your 1st single a hit, and fans all over excite to hear new info bout you and waitin for ur album 2 drop, so dont disrespect, and if ur gunna try to use an example about someone who sam shulda interviewed try comin up with a better example not some chick that sound like she’z cryin gon every track k thanx 🙂

  9. cuznbritt December 4, 2007

    I have been anticipating that interview, I am a huge Mario fan. I am glad that you had the opportunity to interview him. I was definitely curious as to how he felt about the album being released a year after its initial release date. I will definitely be purchasing the album next week, and I hope you will do the same, because it is a hot album. People have been sleeping on Mario since his debut failing to realize that he is indeed a great artist. He has a great persona, wonderful vocals, and he puts on a great show.

  10. Gossip Gyrl December 4, 2007


    I enjoyed that interview. I got some insight to why his album got pushed back… I was actually looking forward to see him in concert with Kelly Rowland, but with that preganant pause he made I guess there was some politics behind that also.
    Keep it coming Sam.
    -Gossip Gyrl


  11. DJ December 5, 2007

    Great Interview!! I wish he would release Kryptonite, it has a great radio feeling to it.

    He was right about his vocal creativity, he stays on top of his vocal game and switches it up, I love it!!!!

  12. Lee December 5, 2007

    Thanks you did a great job with the interview.

    Why did he avoid the Kelly Tour question?…….lol!!!!!!!!!

  13. Joany December 5, 2007

    Wow this interview is sooo good!! had alot of info, i felt like i was onda fone too, lololol. Mario seems soooooo grown up now, and hes real funny!!
    Sa ur soooo lucky!! cnt wait for him to be over here!!!

  14. Melody December 5, 2007

    Love Mario, Loved the interview…

    Keep doin what youre doing, Sam!

  15. Anonymous December 5, 2007

    sam ur not serious my facebook lol
    well u did get me to read it
    it was good …
    he’s real mature now…and i found out some things i never knew went on in his life like the whole thing with his mum
    it was a good interview the questions werent irrelevant good work sam
    next bobby v lol

  16. jay December 5, 2007

    sam ur not serious my facebook lol
    well u did get me to read it
    it was good …
    he’s real mature now…and i found out some things i never knew went on in his life like the whole thing with his mum
    it was a good interview the questions werent irrelevant good work sam
    next bobby v lol

  17. Anonymous December 5, 2007

    Stop shitting your pants crybabies.

    Just cause your Mario stans don’t gotta jump on me. I clearly stated that I love Sam’s interview, I aslo love ThatGrapeJuice, Mario seems really cool and I really love his album. But he is going to flop. I won’t be surprised if he under sells 100,000 on the first week. His album will probably make decent sales on the first week but it will tank on the following weeks. It will fall off quick, as much as I agree on how he is so underated and he doesn’t get enough cred, he just isn’t getting that good promotion he deserves and barely no one knows about it anymore… so don’t pissing and moanig like little b******, cause with the kind of promo he’s been getting his album surely will flop and he doens’t deserve that. So shutup you pissy b****** and if ya’ll are quick to share an opinion I don’t give a f***, I can share mine. I love Mario. I love GO!, I love TGJ.

    AND YES! I want to see interviews with more big names, stop jocking on Rih cause she is doing the damn thing and don’t even try to turn this discussion about Rih to change the fact you know Im right about Mario. And you biased know nothing dumbasses think that just because an artist is succesful (Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Kanye West ect…) You think they’re snobs when they are the best and they treat their fans with such respect and love, so STFU, and before preaching me like Im the wrong one stop being so simple minded. Success does not mean snoby, most sucssesful acts are grounded. And ya’ll are turning agaisnt your words, so your saying Mario isn’t succesful cause ya’ll are saying he’s the best, down to earth and yes it’s true, but you are basically saying he is not a success. He is, himself, but this album won’t be and as I said its a huge shame. But you guys are seriously some off the most f***** up stans ever. You are the kind of people that can’t take any comments that don’t share your opinions..

    And I already knwo you dumbasses are gonna brush this comment right off cause you know Im right. Only few smart readers will comment back in a discussion appropriate way instead of cussing like little kids.

    Are you guys 10 or what. ::)

  18. Anonymous December 5, 2007

    In response to anonymous @ 2:12pm, i agree with ur comments although they do lack a certain level of diplomacy but fact remains, what u state is correct in parts.

    i agree with you that altho the album is good, it will no doubt not be as successful as it should be. I mean, look at Ms Kelly!

    With regards to the interview, its nice to see an artiste be relaxed but some parts of this interview seemed really contrived to me. I mean, the question regarding what he’s listening to at the mo… are u kidding me?!?!?!

    Also, with regards to u releasing timeless records in comparison to ur peers, Mario, take note and be humble. You’ve released some good singles, most notably “let me love you”. However, in reality, nothing else has been that great or shall i even say “timeless”. I mean, the past two albums have been ok but what he lacks is the personality to carry off those songs.

    The songs i’ve heard so far from “GO” have been more promising but good PR is what this brotha needs. At the end of the day, a good CD does not necessarily translate into massive sales. take note Mario and get ur s*** together!

  19. Anonymous December 5, 2007

    I enjoyed the interview, good job. Mario . I’m so sick of people thinking the more albums you sell, the better the artists is. Mario is a great singer and he makes good music. So it doesn’t matter if he is the biggest or not; he does well for himself and that’s all that matters.

    Keep up the good work and keep bring quality interviews with quality artists.

  20. Anonymous December 5, 2007

    good interview … but i wanna know wat happened with him and kelly

  21. Anonymous December 11, 2007

    Nice interview. I love Mario, especially GO! I will definitely be buying it. I just love Music For Love, but he should really release Kryptonite (remix with Foxy Brown) Rich Boy is not complementary to the track!

  22. Anonymous December 20, 2007

    agree wit person above i dont really like Rich Boys rap on Kryptonite it has too much cussin, but i thought the other remix was with Eve?

Recommended Posts