His collaboration with Bruno Mars for the chart topper, Uptown Funk, made him a worldwide phenomenon. English musician, DJ, and record producer, Mark Ronson speaks about his new album Uptown Special, and songwriting in today’s age
Q. How did music become an inspiration - big enough to achieve success, including the highest recognition at the Grammies?
A. Well, music was always passion for me since I used to watch SNL (Saturday Night Live) show at the age of four. Uptown Funk, by far, is my most inventive and vibrant work till date. I always think because with my own albums, I’m not like a singer-songwriter who likes to sit down and get 10 songs, and you know it’s there. I have to have a strong concept when I start the record because you know there are other people contributing music and lyrics sometimes.
Q. What was the driving theme to make Uptown Special? How did your background shape this sound?
A. As a whole, the album is inspired by my musical beginnings. As a teenager growing up in New York City in the early ’90s, I gravitated towards Hip-Hop, Funk, Soul and R&B. We thought of going on a road trip to explore US driving through New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Jackson, Memphis, St Louis, Little Rock and Chicago. We thought of capturing all our experiences throughout the journey to create the album.
Q. The track, Uptown Funk, has become a worldwide hit. Did you imagine it to be such a success? Tell us about Bruno Mars’ role in it.
A. There’s actually a lot. Bruno and I share a great bond. I travelled across various cities when Bruno was touring for his other records and set up my camps to record Uptown Funk and give it the right swing. We are again going to come together soon with Bruno’s upcoming work, Feel Right.
Q. Your favourite author, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon, wrote most of the album’s lyrics. How did he become part of the songwriting process?
A. Michael wrote the lyrics since I felt that lot of the lyrics in Pop music or in music comes from soul. R&B has gotten kind of oversimplified and not very imaginative and I think of stuff from the late
Seventies or early Eighties. Even Pop songs back then were exciting and had lyrics. It’s why we listen to them, and one of the reasons why we can still listen to them and enjoy those songs, so many years later too.
Q. Hip-Hop and Funk are hugely followed genres in India. Any plans for a tour
A. Not really now. I haven’t planned to travel to promote Uptown Funk too. Though, I’d love to because I think the music is live and it seems it would be fun to play live but at the same time… I don’t know.
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