Making his Mark

By Jacqueline Smith

DJ/producer Mark Ronson called in a few favours for his third release. He tells Jacqueline Smith about his influences.

Mark Ronson wears his 80s influences on his sleeve on  Record Collection.  Photo / Supplied
Mark Ronson wears his 80s influences on his sleeve on Record Collection. Photo / Supplied

Mark Ronson and his merry men, known as The Business Intl., just played a show in Birmingham, the second show to promote their new album Record Collection.

Duran Duran appeared as surprise guests at the end, which was ultra-exciting since the gig was in their hometown - "but even if it hadn't been in Birmingham that would have been special for me at least," Ronson says.

The legendary pop band have just wrapped up its 13th studio album with Ronson sitting in the producer's seat.

While Record Collection is Ronson's third release as an artist in his own right, he still considers it to be a producer's album - he used his DJ and business contacts to collaborate with some of the newest and the biggest names on the music scene including Miike Snow, D'Angelo and even Boy George.

With a psychedelic, geometric print splashed over the publicity material and plenty of classic 1980s synthesisers parping through the tracks, it looks and sounds like a blast from the past, but, says Ronson: "We are not trying to make a Duran Duran record, I just love those textures.

Maybe somewhere along the line it does remind me of being a kid because I grew up in the 1980s.

"In a song like Bang Bang Bang there is an 80s' synth thing going on with the keyboard line, but the drum beat could be off a New Orleans funk record from the 60s. Hopefully you combine those things in a way that you make something new."

Ronson says he would have been equally proud of this album if he had produced it for someone else. In fact, he still thinks of himself as "just half of the puzzle" whose output revolves around collaboration.

Indeed it was his producing background and genuine love of music that helped him ring someone as revered as Boy George and ask him to swing by and sing on the record.

"I wrote the lyrics [to Somebody To Love Me] with Andy Wyatt of Miike Snow and Alex Greenwald. Sometimes when you are writing a song there's some big brother song in your head that you are aspiring to. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me was going through my head, but I don't know why it was the song we kept coming back to for inspiration. It took us a few days to write the lyrics for that song. Then I had this idea, I said 'what would you think if we got Boy George to sing it with you as a duet?'."

Ronson had once interviewed the British star for an American magazine and somewhat impressed him with the level of research he had done beforehand. "So I called him and asked him to come and hear the song. He liked it because he said it sounded like something he would have written, which I guess makes sense because he was a big part of the inspiration for writing it. And that's how it came about," he says.

That's an example of what a man who has been DJing for 15 years and producing for the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen can do when he wants to.

But becoming the star of the show, and not just the person arranging someone else's tracks has not changed Ronson's outlook - for him, it's still about fulfilling his passion of bringing music to people's ears.

After the Birmingham gig, he drove straight down to London to do a DJ set in a club until the wee hours of the morning.

"It's great to do different things. The thing I love about DJing and the reason I got into it is because I love music and I love playing it to other people," he says.


- NZ Herald

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