Mahomies will have to wait a while longer for Austin Mahone’s debut LP, but the pop star has given them something to chew on in the meantime. Thursday the 19-year-old singer released This Is Not the Album, a mixtape of 19 free, downloadable songs that are, well, not his actual album.
Mahone’s popularity has been rising since 2013, when he opened for Taylor Swift on the RED tour and was named MTV’s Artist to Watch, and while he released beloved EP The Secret and several singles since, he has yet produce his debut feature-length. He doesn’t know when that will happen, but with features like Chris Brown, T-Pain, and Sage the Gemini on his mixtape, This Is Not the Album should buy him some time before fans get too restless.
Below, Mahone takes EW inside the making of This Is Not the Album, streaming via SoundCloud, and teases what’s ahead in 2016.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you decide to release This Is Not the Album as a mixtape?
Just because I’ve released a lot of music in these past few months, and I had a lot of songs just sitting around that I wanted my fans to hear. I don’t know when my album is coming out, I have no clue right now. I’m just waiting for this new year to come so I can just start fresh and take it day by day. But this is why I’m putting this out — just so I can hold the fans over until I do know when it’s going to come out. I decided to just make a mixtape and put it out for free for my fans.
What’s happening with the actual album right now?
I’m just taking my time with it, because I want it to be perfect for my fans. It’s my first one. I want to make it a huge impact when I release it.
When did you start recording songs for This Is Not the Album?
Six months ago maybe. I had just got my new house. I was in my studio and just started recording songs.
You have quite a few collaborators on there. How did those happen? Chris Brown, T-Pain, Becky G, Sage the Gemini? That’s a pretty stacked list.
A lot of them are my friends already, so it wasn’t too difficult to get done. It was kinda, “You want to get on this?” and everyone was down to get on the songs. So I got a lot of dope people — Kalin and Myles, Sage the Gemini, Chris Brown, Becky G, just tons of people.
Which song did you enjoy working on the most?
I have stories for every one, but probably the most fun for me was “Same Girl” with Kalin and Myles, because he just came over to my house one day for a few days he was in town. And he was talking to me about this girl. He was like, “Man, I’m stalking this girl on Instagram. She’s so beautiful. I’m gonna try to hit her up.” And then he showed me a picture and I was like, “Oh, bro, that’s my old thing right there.” Just joking around. And he was like, “No way.” And I was like, “Yeah, I’ve already been talking to her for a little bit. You’re late on that, bro. We’re talking to the same girl.” And so we wrote a song about it.
What was it like working with Becky G, someone you dated for a little while, on “Rollin?'”
Yeah, we dated for a little bit, and we’re still super close friends. I think the fans are really going to love that one.
Where are you getting your inspiration from right now?
I’ll be honest, it’s tough to get my inspiration at home, because I’m there a lot and there’s nothing really to look at or get a vibe from. When I write songs, sometimes I wait until I travel somewhere. I’ll get a nice hotel with a nice view and I’ll see the whole city, and I’ll just set up my speakers and I’ll just get inspiration from where I’m at.
Can you tell us about other future plans music-wise?
I’m probably going to shoot a few videos for these songs from This Is Not the Album. So I’m going to get those done, and then I’m just going to keep working on new music really. There’s no set plans for me right now. I’m just going to keep working on new music and keep doing shows and traveling.
See the mixtape’s full tracklist.
1. Put It on Me (feat. Sage the Gemini)
2. Same Girl (feat. Kalin and Myles)
3. Brand New
4. Do It Right (feat. Rob Villa)
5. Rollin (feat. Becky G)
6. On Your Way (feat. KYLE)
7. Caught Up
8. Something So Real
9. Love You Anyways (feat. Rob Villa)
10. Red Lights Remix (feat. Chris Brown)
11. What It Do
12. Deep End
13. Hate to Let You Go
15. Who’s Gonna Love You Now
16. Hold It against Me
17. If I Ain’t Got You (feat. Kyle Dion)
18. Not Far
19. Dirty Work (Remix) (feat. T-Pain)