DJ/producer-turned-frontman Mark Ronson talks to Kim Taylor Bennett
Thirty-five-year-old Ronson might be synonymous with Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and brassy blasts of ’60s-indebted souped-up covers, but his new album Record Collection will wipe the slate clean. Informed by the elegant rhythms of Jean Michel Jarre, the Moog records of Jean-Jacques Perrey and time spent with Nick Rhodes while producing Duran Duran’s upcoming LP, Ronson’s latest opus pulls in a stunning array of pop architects. To name but a few, there are contributions from Boy George, Duran Duran, The Drums’ Jonathan Pierce, Ghostface Killah and Wiley. Meanwhile SpankRock and rising star MNDR line up on the fantastic lead single ‘Bang Bang Bang’. He’s certainly got plenty of tricks up his well-tailored sleeve.
In the title track you essentially mock the media’s construct of who you are. I wrote the lyrics with Nick Hodgson [Kaiser Chiefs drummer] and he definitely took the lead. The first line was, ‘I take too long to answer telephones…’ and the minute he said it, it flashed into my mind all the times I’ve been in the studio and seen my phone vibrating, and flashing ‘Nick Hodgson, Nick Hodgson’, and I just knew then that he was writing a light-hearted song making fun of me. It’s not really about me; it’s just about these ridiculous statements, like the DJ jet-set lifestyle.
I don’t want anyone to think I’m on a yacht with David Guetta and posse in the South of France and that’s how I live my life. Sometimes you read these ridiculous things, and the most interesting thing to do with it is go all the way, like Eminem’s 8 Mile: exaggerating everything anyone could possibly say to knock you in a way that there’s nothing else for anyone else to say.
What’s the biggest misconception about you? The biggest misconception that I read usually is that I like children. No, I’m just kidding. I don’t even think the press mean it in a bad way but I find it a little insulting that I’m always ‘the most well-connected man in pop’, as if I showed up at the gates of the music industry and was handed a golden Rolodex. The people I work with I know because we work in music, and most of my friends are musicians or singers because my life revolves around being in the studio. I don’t want to come across like I’m griping, but if I had to say something, that is one thing that I think is a little bit of a misconception. And the children.
Have you stopped Googling yourself? No. And I only read the ones that I know are going to be bad, like on the sarky sites. I don’t want to read the good s**t. It’s self-flagellation, like the guy in the The Da Vinci Code.
Do you still have panic attacks? No, they were more like anxiety attacks. There was nothing I could do when I was going through them; now I just get super nervous. I had to DJ the other night at Space in Ibiza and I’ve never played on a main floor, and they put me on before Vitalic, this giant French techno producer guy, and I thought whoever was in charge of the line-up hated me! I went on and it was kinda alright, but I think everyone who was with me that night was worried because I was hyperventilating a little bit. I was not in a happy place.
You’ve worked with a lot of your heroes, but producing Duran Duran’s upcoming album and having them play on yours must have been up there with the all-time most surreal moments. The first day I was like a giddy schoolgirl… and then you get over that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do your job as a producer. It’s not me yelling at people in the studio and ordering them around. They came in with about 12 demos that they’d been working on, and I just thought it could be better, so the first day on the job I had to tell Duran Duran to scrap their 12 demos – it was not my favourite thing in the world to do! I think the record ranks up there with their best albums, which for me is their first three records.
I firmly believe turtlenecks are the enemy of all men, but you rock one with some aplomb. No I don’t. It’s a bit ‘night at the Playboy mansion’. I think for a minute it all got a bit too slick and suave. I can’t imagine rocking one right now. I don’t think they’re the biggest enemy of all men. I can think of other things, like adult circumcision, that probably rank higher. Record Collection is available online now.