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Interview with Mark Ronson

25 DEC 2011 | Posted By: Katie

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Interview with Mark Ronson

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Mark Ronson and Q-Tip
After his slept on mixtape-style record Here Comes The Fuzz, British artist Mark Ronson copped a bunch of criticism for his super popular second record Version – an album made up of covers, featuring Amy Winehouse, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Lily Allen, Kasabian and more. After vowing never to do a cover album again, Ronson gathered another impressive and diverse bunch of collaborators (Q-Tip, Boy George, Ghostface Killah, Spank Rock, Kyle Falconer) and wrote Record Collection. Katie Olsen spoke with the DJ/producer/musician/scotch drinker ahead of his Australian tour.

Katie Olsen:
Hi, how you going Mark? What are you up to at the moment?
Mark Ronson: I’m just in the studio at the moment with Andrew White from Miike Snow and Andy Burrows who used to be the drummer in Razorlight. We’re doing this project, the three of us and we’re out in the freezing cold near the beach writing some songs.

KO: That sounds very poetic.
MR: It’s pretty cold. But it’s nice.

KO: Do you ever not work?
MR: No, I definitely… It’s not like if I stop work I’m going to die… I just have these opportunities to work on these projects and with people I really like, and you know, if I said no so I could have two weeks off or something like that I’d just regret it. I’d be thinking in my head “Oh fuck, I wonder what would have happened if I’d made that record.” So, I mean, you can’t say yes to absolutely everything.

KO: But you try, right?
MR: Well, and three, four years from now, who knows? Maybe nobody will want to work with me. So you might as well do it while you’ve got the opportunity.

KO: Yeah, right. So, back in 2003 you released Here Comes The Fuzz, but Version was the album that got you most of your attention. I was wondering, do you have a theory about why Here Comes The Fuzz was ignored?
MR: I don’t really know. To be honest I think, you know, it was… it was like a DJ mixtape album and those things – there’s definitely a ceiling to how successful those records can be. The difference with Version was… I mean, I didn’t really have any plans to make an album of covers, I was just making these covers and… I guess a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was linked with Amy and Lily just as they were blowing up and they were on my record and all the things kind of added to it. I guess that’s why Version was the success that it was. Um, I don’t know why Here Comes The Fuzz wasn’t – maybe it just wasn’t that amazing. And we didn’t tour it, we didn’t do much to promote it. And then my label dropped me about three weeks after the album came out anyway.

KO:
Oh, blaspheme. I thought it was a good album.
MR: Thank you.

KO: You mentioned Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen – you have good taste and good luck to work with some of your collaborators. Does it annoy you though, that there seems to be this kind of assumption that you have, like, Prince on speed dial?
MR: …Um. Prince on speed dial? What do you mean?

KO: Just that–
MR: No. I mean all of the people that I’ve worked with didn’t have any success with... For the most part [they] were known or relatively unknown when we worked together. Daniel Merriweather, MNDR, Santigold, Amy and Lily – the people that I’ve had most of my success with are the people that were pretty much unknown. I didn’t discover them, but I think it’s not about knowing famous people and superstars, it’s about knowing who you have chemistry with and who you work well with.

KO: You obviously have chemistry with a bunch of different artists, because you work on so many people’s projects. Is it an intangible kind of thing?
MR: Sometimes you have chemistry with someone on a personal level, you write well together… I don’t know. It’s different with everybody.

KO: How are you feeling about performing Record Collection now?
MR: The thing is when you make it kind of spread out over this period of six months, I probably wrote the music to ‘Somebody to Love Me’ four months before George and Andrew sang it, so, yeah, it’s quite splintered and then when you start playing it live everything’s all happening at once… Um, definitely touring the record seems to solidify your relationship with a song, and playing the songs every night, it gets… it can kind of almost make you immune and desensitised to it, but it can also solidify your relationship with a song.

KO: And on Record Collection, this is the first time you sing...
MR: Yep.

KO: Any reason you finally decided to offer your own vocals?
MR: Um, I just never really felt the need to sing before… I wrote this song with Jonathan from the Drums and he wasn’t around to sing it, so it was like, “If I don’t sing it, the song’s not going to go on the record.” That’s why I did it.

KO: Totally out of necessity then, not a desire to share your voice.
MR: Yeah.

KO: You’re touring the album to Australia, which artists will you be bringing out when you come here?
MR: Well, you know, I’ll be coming with Stuart Zender, Alex Greenwald, MNDR, Spank Rock, hopefully Kyle [Falconer]… Some people have arrest records, so I’m not sure who can get in the country, but I’m terribly excited. And for some reason playing the shows we did with Version were fun, but this feels way more... I don’t know, it feels like a real band.

KO: You obviously had a really musical childhood, your dad was really into funk and soul and your stepdad [Mick Jones of Foreigner] obviously influenced your musical taste too. What’s your earliest musical memory?
MR: I think my earliest musical memory is waking up in the middle of the night while my parents had people over, probably like 80 in the living room, blasting music at two in the morning, and I would come down. And I was so content to just sit in front of the speakers and play imaginary drums… Eventually, about a year later my mum bought me a miniature kids’ set of drums.

KO: That’s pretty cute. You had formal lessons for a few instruments, but you taught yourself some too., right? Is there a difference between the way you play instruments that you learned formally and those you taught yourself?
MR: I didn’t really study anything formally for that long… I wasn’t really a prodigy of any kind. I guess I’m pretty much self-taught everything. I’m not really amazing at any one instrument, I can play enough of a couple of things to get by. But now I find myself trying to get better, 'cause I realise that’s my path and it’s worth it to be good.

KO: I was reading in one interview recently, that you seemed like a perfectionist and somebody who could make people do whatever you wanted. I wanted to know what you thought about those perceptions?
MR: I don’t think I’m a perfectionist ‘cause I think there are things that are sloppy and messy that I hear on my records all the time. And I don’t think – I’m not really seeing myself as a massive manipulator, so I think you can make people do things by being kind and not trying to force it to have your way. If you’re in the studio and you’re trying to convince someone of your argument, I think it’s worth it to try both ways and then see which one’s best. At the end of the day, if you’re producing someone’s record – they’re the one who has to go out and tour it for the next few years.

KO:
Yeah, I should clarify that I didn’t mean the interview implied you were manipulative.
MR: No, no, no. It’s OK.

KO: So you’re a musician, composer, producer, a DJ, I think a scotch drinker… Anything we should add?
MR: That sounds like you covered it all.

Mark Ronson and The Business INTL are touring Australia as part of the Future Music Festival
Brisbane: Saturday March 5th.
Perth: Sunday March 6.
Sydney: Saturday March 12th.
Melbourne: Sunday March 13th.
Adelaide: Monday March 14th.

Plus sideshows
Wednesday March 9th at The Palace, Melbourne (presented by Lifelounge).
Friday March 11th at The Enmore Theatre, Sydney.

Lifelounge has four double passes to give away to the Melbourne show, plus grand prize of a double pass plus a meet and greet with the dapper Mr Ronson himself. Send an email to comps@lifelounge.com with your name, username, postal address and (in 25 words or less) why Mark Ronson makes you go bang, bang, bang. Comp closes Monday February 21st 2011.
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Comments on this Post
There are "2" comment(s) on "Interview with Mark Ronson"

Senior Member Lebronski
Mr. Ronson sounds a little tired.
Lebronski  -  3 years ago
Reply  |  Report
Senior Member Pop'n'Fresh
Mr. Ronson is the cats pyjamas. I love his GUTZ. Cept for when he died is hair grey, that was weird.
Pop'n'Fresh  -  3 years ago
Reply  |  Report

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