How To Be: Mark Ronson I Director’s Cut

How To Be: Mark Ronson I Director’s Cut


Sean Lennon:
I’m gonna need, like, two more
cameras on this side.
– ( laughter on set )
– There’s gonna be a lot
happening right here.
– We’ve started, didn’t we?
– Man: Yes.
– ( yawns )
– So, better I sit back
or a nice slouchy?
– Can you guys get it there?
– Man: Can we roll sound?
♪ Can we roll sound,
right now? ♪
– What’s up?
– It’s supposed to be
a porta-potty.
– How do you say it?
– Man: Oh, potpourri.
– I’m just kidding.
– You guys got this?
– Man: Yeah.
– ( loud clapper )
– ( laughs, imitates clapper )
– Watch your hands, mate.
There’s a man
cleaning the building,
but life must go on,
even in a Mark Ronson
documentary.
Man: Okay.
( “Uptown Funk” intro playing )
Who is Mark Ronson?
Mark Ronson…
He’s my son.
That’s the easiest start.
Mark Ronson is…
– Mick Jones: He’s my stepson.
– Charlotte Ronson:
My big brother.
– He’s my oldest friend.
– He’s a dude I’ve known
for a long time.
Josh Homme:
Mark Ronson is a conduit,
and anything can go through
that conduit. Anything.
Charlotte:
They don’t really
make them like Mark.
He’s probably a bit shy.
But probably knows
how to fake that quite good.
Sensitive in a good way.
Positive way. Not negative.
He’s one of the nicest people
I’ve ever had the pleasure
– of getting to know.
– Who said white men
can’t wear yellow?
Always very thoughtful.
Always very diplomatic.
Mark Ronson is terribly
uncomfortable right now,
wherever he is.
Mark Ronson
is one of the greatest
musicians and producers
of our time.
He’s a rock star.
Rashida Jones:
He’s like a culture capsule
that’s been, like,
launched through time.
Kind of like, picks up
the debris of every era.
He’s a rap band, record
producer, songwriter.
Mark Ronson:
I can play drums, guitar, bass.
– Rock out!
– Q-Tip: He’s an
Academy Award-winner.
Bradley Cooper:
He’s this guy that looks
like Elvis, but he’s English.
And he’s kind of
like a film nerd,
but he’s, like,
the coolest guy there is.
Simon Le Bon:
He’s like your best friend
who’s the best producer
in the world.
Quincy Jones:
Mark is a great
human being first.
A great human being.
That’s why he never stops
turning out
what he loves, you know?
That’s so much fun
to listen to.
I know there’s people that are,
“I’m the producer.
I’m in charge.”
But he does it in a way
that’s kind and cool,
and I know it sounds like
we’re going out together
or something,
but so what?
It is what it is.
What I’ve loved so much about
Mark since the beginning,
is he always wants to get
into the soul of the artist.
If he’s not getting to your
soul, he’s not interested.
( “Uptown Funk” continues )
I was like, “Holy shit,
that’s Mark Ronson.”
Man: You’ve not done
desert island discs, have you?
Yeah, I’ve never been asked
for desert island discs.
Maybe because it’s just more
interesting to see what,
like, a politician
or some humanitarian
would do than a DJ.
It’s like, “We know
your desert island discs.
You play them all the time.”
I would probably need,
like, a good few hours
of actually digging through
my record collection
or looking through
my iTunes library or whatever
to even whittle it down.
Do you want a number of them?
Should I try and go
for something?
Okay, so desert island discs,
tracks of all time would be…
It’s so tough,
like, once you start
really getting into it.
It’s a lot of brain power
for this, the first question.
Sorry.
Lykke Li:
“I weigh the water.
I feel it all.
I ask myself a million
questions in the dark.
I lay in silence,
but silence talks.
It tells me Heaven
is no closer than before.
My heart keeps pulling
in the wrong direction.
I’m about to cross that line.
Looking for the wrong affection
night after night.
Trying to find a new
distraction.
I wanna make it
last all night.
Everything that
I’ve been mixing,
all mixed up inside.
Ronson: I was going through
the breakup of my marriage,
which caused me to, like,
confront a bunch
of early childhood shit
that was kind of hairy.
I think it, like,
kind of opened the vaults a bit.
But I didn’t know
how to deal with it
and wasn’t mature enough
to kind of handle
and really address it.
I wouldn’t have
necessarily thought
about putting it
in my music.
I wouldn’t say
I’m emotionally closed off,
but I think sometimes
I’m the last person to know
what I might be feeling.
I certainly didn’t think,
“Okay, I’m gonna make
a breakout record.”
Annie Mac here backstage,
because next person
on that stage
is Mr. Mark Ronson,
and he’s joined me here
in the studio. Hello, Mark.
Ronson:
I’m a little nervous ’cause,
you know, it’s the first–
– first time in a while.
– Well, it’s healthy.
It’s healthy,
and it’s not just you
and some decks up there
like it was with all of us.
– You’ve brought a full
production tonight.
– Yeah, it’s basically
the broken heart
kind of disco ball,
but adds a shape on its side
which becomes the DJ booth.
It’s really interesting to roll
with the concept of the album.
– Which is heartbreak
and joy juxtaposed.
– Yes.
– Yeah?
– Live in Middlesbrough.
– Live in Middlesbrough
tonight, yes!
– Yeah.
Here by 10:15.
Ronson: I’m always stressed,
’cause there’s this
feeling of, like,
“Don’t fuck up.
Don’t fuck up.”
There have to be dips and lows,
but if there’s a moment
where I feel like
the energy’s waned,
I start to spin out
in my head.
So I’m learning to just
accentuate the positive
a little bit, too, you know?
“We’re gonna fucking
go out and kill it,”
as opposed to, like,
“It better be fucking perfect
or it’s going to
be miserable,” you know?
So, that being said,
it better be fucking perfect
– or I’m going to be
miserable. Excuse me.
– ( woman laughs )
Emcee:
Please, can you welcome
our headliner tonight,
Mark Ronson!
( music playing )
M.C.!
♪ This world can hurt you ♪
♪ It cuts you deep
and leaves a scar ♪
♪ Yeah, things fall apart,
but nothing breaks
like a heart ♪
Hey, Mark Ronson.
♪ Nothing breaks like a heart ♪
♪ I heard you on
the phone last night ♪
♪ We live and die
by pretty lies ♪
♪ You know it,
yeah, we both know it ♪
♪ These silver bullet
cigarettes ♪
♪ This burning house,
there’s nothing left ♪
♪ And it’s smoking,
and we both know it ♪
♪ We got all night
to fall in love ♪
♪ And just like that
we fall apart ♪
♪ We’re broken,
hey, we’re broken ♪
♪ Well, nothing, nothing,
nothing gonna save us now ♪
♪ There’s broken silence by
thunder crashing in the dark ♪
♪ Crash in the dark ♪
Ronson: You know, I come
from being a club DJ,
so I probably tend to think
like that’s all anybody
would want to hear
from me anyway.
And also just growing up,
like, believing
most of my adult life
that it’s not right
to express your feelings
and you should
probably try and do it
as little as possible.
♪ Nothing breaks
like a heart ♪
If you’re not that great
at accessing your emotions
in your real life,
it’s probably unlikely that
they’re gonna suddenly come out
in your music, you know?
Ann Dexter-Jones:
Mark was a honeymoon baby.
I came back from honeymoon.
I had this horrible
food poisoning.
So I went to see the doctor.
He said, “You don’t have
food poisoning.
You’re pregnant.”
Laurence Ronson:
Mark came along, probably,
I think it was
about nine months
from the day we got married.
So, you know, it was
a pretty instant arrival.
You get a major buzz
out of having a child.
Especially,
the macho thing comes out.
“Oh, I’ve got a son,”
you know,
which was followed up
by twin daughters.
He was just a great kid
from day one.
Ronson: My dad was from
a nice Jewish family
from north London,
and my mom was from
Southport, Liverpool.
My dad was a music obsessive,
for sure.
He had 45s of, like,
all this Stax and Soul.
When I started to DJ,
it was actually by going
through his record collection.
It was what gave me
my first crate
of the old school stuff.
I remember sort of
really enjoying discovering,
you know, music.
Perhaps, you know, an import
that wasn’t being played
on the radio.
Everything from the Stones
through to R&B
and soul and funk.
I would make dinner parties
and I let the children stay up
till the cocktail hour,
’cause I said to them
it was important
that they learn to mix
with grown-ups,
that they had
to look them in the eye
and shake their hand.
It was a party house.
You know, perhaps,
the evenings extended, um,
beyond the realms
of normality.
Whether that
was the ideal environment
to bring up children,
I don’t know,
but it happened.
This famous musician
came over one day,
and he introduced himself
to Mark and said,
“Hello, my name’s Mick Jagger.
And do you know what I do?
I play music.”
So Mark said,
“Well, you can’t be famous
because I haven’t seen you
on The Muppet Show.”
I think he was obsessed
with the Muppets
when we were growing up.
I remember my mother
telling us a story that, like,
whenever anyone would come over,
he would kind of wheel us,
Samantha and I,
to the door to be like,
“Have you come
to take the Muppets away?”
I think he liked his time
as just, you know, on his own.
Ronson: I mean, my parents
were a young couple.
I would wake up
in the middle of the night,
there’s 30 people, ashtrays,
cigarettes sitting all over,
everybody’s partying.
Simon Kirke from Bad Company,
I remember him being
at the piano,
and one time walking down
and being like–
seeing Christopher Reeve there.
And then, you know,
what goes up
must come down, right?
You have a party,
there’s a hangover.
I have a lot of memories
of hearing shouting
through the doors
and shit breaking,
and just being, like,
“Oh, fuck.”
The fighting
and this kind of thing
probably reached an impasse,
and then they separated
when I was five.
Laurence:
It’s just one of those
things, you know?
It’s difficult to–
to remember how
these kind of things evolve,
epecially when
they devolve as well.
So, you know, um, yeah.
Charlotte:
Being children of divorce,
you don’t really know
what’s going on,
but you’re heavily
bonded together,
and he was always
there for us,
and teaching us,
like, all the bad words
and things like that.
Ann: When I filed for divorce,
it was tough.
It was a little chaos,
as it is with most people.
I remember her being, like,
quite emotional at times.
I remember getting into bed,
she was kind of emotional
or crying or being, like–
all these things at five
that you’re not quite sure
how to deal with.
Ann:
I think the unit got closer.
We were just
that little island.
Laurence: It was very
difficult because, you know,
they didn’t move
round the corner.
They moved to the States.
It doesn’t sound like
it’s the hardest story ever,
but definitely shit that
I realize kind of now, like,
“Okay, that might’ve
affected me in this way.”
Or “Why do I–“
I’m drawn to these kind of
emotionally fraught,
quite complicated artists
that I always seem
to want to feel like
I need to fix,
or whatever it is.
“Oh, that might
go back to this.”
– ( muted chatter )
– ( buzzing )
My wife and I, we split
in March or April of 2017,
and right about that time
we had just moved to L.A.
I was supposed to be starting
to work on a follow-up
to “Uptown Special,”
whatever that was.
And I was just
kind of trying to shirk off
the responsibility
of having to be an adult
and also having
to make this record.
And then, January 2018,
just decided to get
my shit together.
It was either that
or release a cover
of “To All The Girls
I Loved Before”
by Julio Iglesias, I guess.
Yeah.
( drums playing )
We had just moved
into this brand new studio.
Just told the engineer Todd,
I was like,
“Show me how this shit works
and just take the month off.”
And that’s when I started
building back my confidence
and just building back, like–
building a sense of what this
record was gonna be.
I was just–
was in this messy place,
kind of like
I was in the middle
of this– this separation.
I was going out drinking.
I wasn’t dealing with life,
and I wasn’t looking
to get into anything
particularly deep or meaningful,
musically or otherwise.
Isley Juber: I’d been
wanting to work with him
for a very, very long time.
And I felt like this was
my one opportunity,
and I didn’t want to
leave the studio
having not gotten anything.
Ronson: It was kind of
the end of the day,
and I think it was
at that point
where I was just itching
to get out of here.
And Ilsey was like,
“Do you wanna try one
more thing?”
So, I got on the pian–
this an electric piano,
and I was just kind of
fucking around,
looking for chords.
And sometimes you’re just
looking for the first chord
that just feels a bit nice.
And I think–
I mean, it’s so basic, but…
( strikes piano chord )
and then…
And then I put, probably,
just like a kick drum–
We’ll see what
we can kind of bring up.
( drumbeat )
And then I started
playing the chords.
And then you got
the melody pretty quick.
Yeah, for me,
I just kind of mumble
until I hear stuff.
But the verse kind of
came all at once for me,
and it was just like…
♪ I weigh the water,
I feel it all ♪
♪ I ask myself a million
questions in the dark ♪
♪ I lay in silence,
but silence talks ♪
♪ It tells me Heaven
is no closer than it was ♪
And then we kind of were like,
“Okay, where do we go
from there?”
I loved how the lyrics
were so…
“I weighed the water,
I feel it all.
I ask myself a million
questions in the dark.”
Like, all of it.
For that first verse, it was
just like a magical moment
where it just kind of came,
and I think that it’s–
sometimes you can’t
really explain it.
I was so impressed lyrically
what she was onto melodically.
It had this spooky wistfulness,
and we wrote
“Late Night Feelings,”
or at least the start of it.
Do you combine pain,
emotion, feeling,
the openness
to be able to help people
to tap into their own thing?
Which she does
with other artists
and helped me do
on this record,
which is usually what I’m doing
on other people’s records–
helping them tap
into something.
I needed somebody
who could do that for me
on this record.
( “Moonlight Sonata” playing
on piano and drums )
– ( music continues )
– ( woman singing )
( muted chatter )
( falsetto )
♪ Late night feelings ♪
♪ Nobody ever calls me ♪
You should put this out.
Lykke:
Between the producer
and the singer,
you establish
some type of trust
and vulnerability.
Like, he will share
something very personal,
and I will share
something personal.
So when it’s time to,
like, record the song
or lay down the vocals,
there’s already trust
that we’re dealing
with something
very delicate and intimate.
So, it’s really about trust.
You’ve probably
have a feeling about this,
but on the “on and on,”
maybe somebody
could really go high,
because I think there is
a really high one
in the background.
I was thinking, too,
should I maybe…
let them sing
“late night feelings”?
♪ When I get… ♪
( vocalizing )
It’s really beautiful
that he actually realizes
what an intimate thing it is
to track vocals
or lay down vocals,
and he really respects you.
And what is really interesting
is everyone that he chose
to collaborate with
happened to be a woman.
And I feel like
women are really good
at channeling
those kinds of emotions.
Like, women are not
afraid to go there.
We love that shit.
– Should we try it?
– Yes.
Ronson: Okay.
( vocalizing )
( vocalizing )
♪ Late night feelings ♪
♪ I weigh the water,
I feel it all ♪
♪ I ask myself a million
questions in the dark ♪
♪ I lay in silence ♪
Ronson: I think
I just kept coming
to the studio everyday,
and when I would
sit down to the piano,
the only chords
that would come out
were kind of melancholy.
And every now and then,
we’d come here and we’d try
and do something fun.
It would feel good in the room,
and then the next day
I’d just listen to it
for a second and,
like, just didn’t
feel connected to it.
We’d be writing
these new songs.
It was almost just, like,
sort of taking over me.
I was like,
“This is just happening.
I’m not going to fight it.”
It certainly was, like,
this is new,
but it feels right
and it feels like
what needs to be happening.
And then I was like, okay,
if these songs are gonna be
a little bit more moody
or melancholy
or a little deeper,
then, yeah,
they need to move well.
♪ Late night feelings,
on and on and on ♪
♪ Feeling on and on ♪
♪ On and on, on and on ♪
♪ Late night feelings,
on and on and on ♪
♪ Feeling on and on ♪
♪ On and on, on and on ♪
♪ Late night feelings ♪
– Ronson: Great.
– I fucked up there.
– It sounds great.
– Vocal breakdown,
but whatever.
So much fun. It feels great.
Lykke: Yeah,
it feels good with a band.
I totally didn’t remember
the end was coming,
so I’m just like,
wocka-dooka,
wocka-dooka, yeah!
Wocka-dooka.
– Okay, we’re at speed.
– Good to go?
– Go for it.
– Thanks for doing this, Mark.
Appreciate it, man.
Geist: What did you want
to say with this new album?
Because you’ve said,
you know, you’re sort of known
as the party guy, the DJ,
you make hits.
But this comes,
it seems to me, anyway,
from a bit of
a different place.
Yeah, well,
when I started this album,
I was kind of floundering
for a while.
I didn’t know what it was.
And then my marriage
just sort of ended and I–
I had never thought
of my own music
as channeling emotion.
I’m always like,
“Oh, that’s what I do
when I go work
with these people
on their records.”
Lady Gaga, Queens of
the Stone Age, whatever.
On my records,
it’s supposed to be a party.
Do you feel like
you’re sort of opening
yourself up to the world
and exposing your life
in a way you haven’t before?
It’s just helped me
make what I think
is my best music,
because it’s like–
it’s funny that
when I go to work
on somebody else’s record,
I always crave this honesty
and vulnerability.
But yet, with my own records,
I’ve never done that.
Man: Will do.
I’m just gonna need a hug
at the end of this week.
This is the place
that feels the most familiar.
My family’s English,
but New York
is like the backbone.
I met Mick in
the middle of my divorce,
and I wasn’t looking
to be remarried.
I had been finishing up, um,
our album, the “4” album.
Ann was in the separation
with her husband at the time.
And I took one look
at her and I–
I just fell in love
immediately.
( music playing )
I had to go to court
to bring the children
to America.
Ronson: I think my mom
decided that she just wanted
to go to New York
’cause she’d fallen
in love with my stepdad.
But I think that there
was something earnestly
in her that thought,
“If I can get them away,
it’ll be better for their life.”
My stepdad had just had
his second divorce.
He was living in
this kind of suite,
but modest apartment.
And all of a sudden
he’s inherited this woman
and her three kids.
Like, we’re all in this place,
three of us, sharing a room.
And without fail,
the children went
to bed at seven.
And without fail,
Mick would go and play
his recordings
he’d just done at the studio.
And Mark would
come in and he’d say,
“Can I just sit up?
Can I just listen?”
He was always curious
as to what I was doing.
He liked to hear mixes
when I brought them home,
and so we’d sit there
and listen,
and that was his initiation
into studio.
Ann:
One night Mick said to him,
“So, what did you think, Mark?”
And Mark went,
“Two nights ago,
you played the second track,
and there’s a riff
you left out tonight
right at the beginning
of the second track.”
And Mick’s face was like…
He didn’t remember, you know?
( music playing )
I remember meeting him because
he was a remarkable kid.
I mean, I don’t know.
I mean, in my mind,
it’s like we were all dressed
in snotty t-shirts,
and he was already
kind of looking cool.
He had some style.
I don’t know if it was Ann
or someone helping him,
but he always had a look.
And when he introduced himself,
he was like,
“Hi, I’m Mark.
I play drums, bass,
guitar, and piano.”
And I’m like,
“Hi, I pick my nose.”
So, yeah, I remember
I didn’t even play guitar
when I met him.
Ronson: I think
we just started talking
instantly about music.
Talking about Zeppelin, INXS,
Jimi Hendrix, Guns ‘N Roses,
whatever kids were talking
about at that age.
And he was just so cool
and like…
at that age even.
Like so super-intelligent.
And goofy.
So we started playing music
together and teaching each other
how to play “The Devil Inside,”
by INXS or something,
and, you know,
just whatever kids do.
I remember he had, like,
a streak in his hair.
And it was cool. It was like
a little blond streak.
And I think I was at
someone’s bar mitzvah
or something,
and this girl–
this pretty girl was like,
“Why do you have
the streak in your hair?”
And he goes, “Camouflage.”
And I was just like,
“Who are you?”
Like, I don’t even know
how to talk to girls,
and you’re already just having
the quips like that.
That was Mark
when we were, like, 13.
♪ Back in the days
when I was a teenager ♪
♪ Before I had status
and before I had a pager ♪
♪ You could find the Abstract
listening to hip-hop ♪
♪ My pops used to say
it reminded him of be-bop ♪
Ronson: Being in New York,
hip-hop was, like,
the sound of the city.
Just seeing the cars
going by with the music
coming out the window,
you just kind of hear it
and you’re like,
“Oh, this is me now.”
♪ Come on everybody,
let’s get with the fly modes ♪
Ronson:
This is Rock & Soul,
where I used to come up
every week to buy records.
I’d meet other DJs there.
You know, everything about
this place is synonymous
with my first 10 years
of DJing in New York.
This was in my first
high school band ever.
The first song we ever played
was “Always On The Run.”
A Lenny tune.
I loved his stuff. He found
a way to make the drums
sound like the ’70s
in this kind of cool way
that no one did at that time.
Oh, look at this.
I don’t even actually
own this on vinyl.
I was like totally obsessed
with hip-hop
and I was listening
to DJs that I love
like Funkmaster Flex
and Stretch Armstrong.
And I didn’t know anything
about making hip-hop.
I didn’t know how
to make a beat.
I certainly wasn’t gonna, like,
rap.
So DJing was like,
“Oh, that’s how I can express
my love for this art form.
Like, that’s my way in.”
Rashida Jones: Mark was always
gonna dominate music,
however that was.
You know, he was making tracks.
And doing remixes. And DJing.
But I think that DJing
was just the beginning
of him figuring out how
he fit into music.
The first time I met Mark,
we were 19. He was so cute.
And he was just, like, cool.
We became friends,
and then we dated,
and then we were engaged,
and then we broke up.
And now we’re friends again,
so we’ve had a long,
long, you know,
interesting path.
He was incredibly focused
and also very hard-working.
I mean, he was DJing
four or five times a week
at that point.
♪ I reminisce for a spell
or shall I say ‘think back’ ♪
♪ 22 years ago
to keep it on track ♪
Ronson: You would go around.
You’d have your demo for
the clubs.
You’d have a mix tape and
you’d maybe be like,
“Okay, this is what I would
sound like in your club.”
I just remember the feeling
when you saw your name
on a flyer, even if it was
like a fraction of the size
of the font of Funkmaster Flex,
you’re like, “I’ve made it.
This is downtown famous.”
You know, I was 19. That was
really such a feeling of, like,
accomplishment.
I would just hassle every
club promoter.
No gig was too small,
no fee too low.
( music playing )
Q-Tip: He cut his teeth
as a hip-hop kid,
’cause that’s who he is.
You know what I’m saying?
He could put the English
accent on when he wants.
And the New York accent
on if he wants.
But he’s hip-hop at his core.
Ronson: Q-Tip would come in
the booth, I remember,
and demurely kinda start, like,
rifling through my records
that were there.
I probably did that, you know,
just to see
if he was the goods,
you know what I mean?
But he passed.
Ronson: He called me and
left a message on my machine.
And I remember saving
the message for months.
Like anyone who would come
over to my house
who was a friend I knew was
a hip-hop fan, I’d be like,
“You wanna hear Q-Tip,”
like, here. And it was like,
( mimicking Q-Tip)
“What’s up, Mark?
It’s Tip. Uh…”
( music playing )
Biggie had passed.
Puff was doing his thing.
Jay was emerging. It was
a lot of R&B fusion.
So for him to still be,
like, in ’92 authentic,
break beats, like, studying,
going through samples and
all that stuff
as a DJ was something
that I took note of.
♪ …backspins,
back seat, TV plasma ♪
♪ Ladies lookin’ for
athletes or rappers ♪
Nikka Costa:
I want to be moved
by what I listen to
and by what I make.
And I felt a lot of the
modern music doesn’t
actually move you.
♪ Time’s up, where
them gangstas at?
Where them Dons at? ♪
I had just signed to
a small label through
Virgin Records,
with a man called
Dominique Trenier.
Ronson: He was this super cool,
fly, young black guy in the
music industry.
Super hip. Like, he worked
with D’Angelo. He knew, like,
Jamiroquai.
Like, Puffy and Andre Harrell
all loved him.
Costa: And he suggested
this DJ kid,
who’s got this whole
knowledge of hip-hop and stuff.
“And he’s not a producer,
but he knows a lot about music
and I don’t know if I just
put you guys in a room,
maybe something will happen.”
And he had this really
gruff voice.
( imitating Trenier )
Yo, I don’t even know if
you produce or nothing,
but I signed this girl.
Her name’s Nikka Costa.
And I don’t what her record’s
really supposed to sound like,
but it’s supposed to sound like
one of your DJ sets.
Now I’ll go back in my
real voice. EPMD, Biggie,
AC/DC, Chaka Khan,
like, that’s the–
that’s the palette.
So my first production
experience was doing the beats
on my MPC drum machine making
something that reminded me of
DJ Premier,
’cause when you’re young
you can’t help copy
your heroes, you know?
But hopefully you just get it
wrong enough that it turns into
its own thing.
And then we made this one song
called “Like a Feather.”
( “Like a Feather”
intro playing )
Costa:
I’d written it on guitar…
just “beh, beh, beh.”
And then Mark found this,
“da-dun da-dun da-duns” and he
started just playing it
and we just dropped
the guitar immediately
and I just started singing
it over– over the beats that
he was doing.
♪ I’m coming out of
my wishing well ♪
♪ Where only echoes lonely hear
my prayers ♪
Ronson: It was truly
the first thing that we made
that was like,
what the fuck is that?
Like it just sounded like
kinda nothing else,
and that’s what everybody
kinda reacted to.
Costa: It was an amazing time.
Even though he never produced
before, he knew his shit.
Ronson: That was when I started
to discover
I’d had this background
of live music and a little
bit of playing.
And I know that when I bring,
like, this kind of Beatles
fuzz-distorted guitar line,
and sort of like Sly-influenced
bassline, like,
now I’m making it my own thing
and this sort of a little,
maybe more interesting.
At least it’s unique to me.
♪ And when I,
set it free ♪
♪ Like a feather,
it will be ♪
♪ And when I rise,
to see it done ♪
♪ Like whatever,
it will be,
it will be ♪
Ronson: It had this huge
buzz around it.
Like Jay Z and Busta Rhymes,
like, come up to me and
they’re like,
“Oh, you did that beat?”
Like DJ Premier, my hero,
came into the DJ booth
and he’s like,
“Who did this beat?”
And I’m like, first of all,
I’m just shook to be meeting my
hero. And second of all,
I’m thinking, like,
“Oh, my God he’s just gonna
be like who’s ripping off
my whole style.”
And I was like, uh,
“I–I–I–I did the beat.”
He goes,
“This shit is hard.”
And just for two-and-a-half
minutes was like this,
and it was definitely the
highlight of my life.
Costa: It wasn’t a small
project.
But he wasn’t making
what he’s making now.
So…we got him cheap.
Yebba:
♪ No, don’t you leave me,
lonely tonight ♪
♪ ‘Cause I won’t forgive you,
I toss– ♪
– ♪ I toss and turn
alone in my bed ♪
– Back-up singer: Sing!
♪ When you should be
laying here beside me instead ♪
♪ Oh, don’t you leave me,
lonely tonight ♪
♪ ‘Cause I won’t forgive you,
forgive you ♪
♪ Forgive you this time ♪
♪ –ime, –ime ♪
We’ll get it.
That…that was perfect,
whatever that one was.
Ronson: The vocal sounds so
fucking good, it sounds
like the record.
– Really?
– Ronson: So good. Yeah.
– Ah, good. Wow.
– Ronson: Yeah. Yeah.
♪ Oh, don’t you,
leave me lonely tonight ♪
♪ ‘Cause I won’t forgive you,
forgive you, forgive you ♪
♪ Tell me if this
love is a lie– ♪
Okay, sorry.
Wait, wait, wait.
– ( drumbeat )
– Just stop it.
( drumbeat stops )
Ronson: You’re not getting–
’cause I just feel like
I’m just playing subtly.
I can’t match– quite get
something as cool as the
original pad…
Ronson: Abbey came into
Electric Lady when I was
really in the early stages
of making the record.
It was myself and Andrew Wyatt.
We had an idea of these chords
and a pre-existing melody.
We wanted Abbey. I loved
her voice. She came in.
I was, like, “Maybe she’ll
write lyrics to this.”
And it just kind of was like,
going but not really
clicking, and then we
took a two second break
and she just started singing
this completely different
melody and song
over the same chords and we
were just, like, “What the
fuck is that?”
She’s like, “I don’t know,
I just made it up.”
I was, like,
“That’s the song now.”
♪ Tell me baby,
what’s on your heart? ♪
That’s perfect,
you’re an angel.
♪ I’ve been wandering around
in your dark, yeah ♪
♪ I’ve got way too many
questions, I’ve been learning
lessons ♪
♪ Loving too hard ♪
♪ Hmmm ♪
♪ Give me just a second
to breathe ♪
♪ ‘Cause you’ve been turning
all the tables on me, yeah ♪
♪ Whenever you would get up
in your feelings, I would
always listen ♪
♪ Now you turn around
and leave ♪
( vocalizing )
♪ Anticipating ♪
♪ ‘Cause you know
I’m never satisfied ♪
Abbey: It’s been the most
clarifying
musical experience
of my life.
He gives me so much room
to find myself.
( vocalizing )
♪ Oh, if we fall apart– ♪
Sorry.
♪ Let’s do it in the dark… ♪
What I bring in, he just
kinda helps
all of my scattered
ideas make more sense.
♪ Don’t you leave me
lonely tonight ♪
♪ ‘Cause I won’t forgive you ♪
♪ Won’t forget– won’t ♪
♪ Don’t you leave me
lonely tonight ♪
♪ ‘Cause I can’t forget you ♪
♪ I toss and turn
alone in my bed ♪
♪ When you should be laying here
beside me instead ♪
♪ Oh, don’t you
leave me lonely tonight ♪
♪ ‘Cause I won’t forgive you ♪
♪ Forgive you,
forgive you this time ♪
♪ Forgive you, forgive you,
forgive you… ♪
Ronson:
To record a vocal like that
and then to sing it
live like this,
and even in this rehearsal,
you try and have
a different nuance thing
that’s just, like,
as special as the record.
She’s– because she’s
had to say some nice things
about me in my presence,
which is embarrassing,
I will say
that she is one of
the top five greatest
vocalists I’ve ever recorded,
and just the kind of person
that when they’re singing
in a room,
everybody just
suddenly engages more.
♪ Ooh ♪
♪ I toss and turn
alone in my bed ♪
♪ When you should be laying here
beside me instead ♪
♪ Oh, don’t you leave me
lonely tonight ♪
♪ ‘Cause I can’t
forgive you ♪
♪ Forgive you,
forgive you this time ♪
– Miss.
– Fuck.
Okay.
That was a beautiful
take, girl.
Like, that was
fuckin’ lit, yeah.
Ronson:
I mean, there’s definitely,
like, some
super driven ambitious
workaholic,
whatever-you-want-to-call-it
tendencies that, like,
drive me,
or make it okay
to stay in the studio
till 2:00 in the morning.
But you just love it so much,
like, it keeps you
awake at night.
It’s not like
I have to finish this
’cause I feel like
this could be the biggest hit
if I finish it.
It’s just like, I know there’s
something so good in there
that I will be sad
if I let it die.
man:
You need to be
a little bit more hype,
like, “You know, this
is Mark Ronson’s first album.
He’s a really nice guy
from a good Jewish family.”
Let’s do it.
♪ Oh, yeah ♪
♪ I’m chillin’ with
your peoples ♪
♪ Mark Ronson… ♪
You know, Mark’s first album
and all that, he ain’t shit.
He be on that bullshit.
Fuck that nigga.
I hate him.
I hate him!
Ronson: I just wanted
to make an album of my own
that felt a bit like
a DJ set.
And, at that point,
I was playing, like,
a little bit of, like,
rock and roll now in the set,
dropping White Stripes or AC/DC
in the right place.
The first mic
we listened back to
sounded better, right?
Cleaner and shit.
Yeah, all right.
So we’ll do that.
But the album was always
definitely rooted in hip-hop.
It was crazy, like,
Mos Def came over
’cause I knew Mos,
did this track and it was
like– it was kinda hard.
♪ And homo wild porridge ♪
♪ Streets without mercy
nights without silence ♪
♪ Me without skill
is like Gards without science ♪
♪ Thugs without irons
life without crying ♪
♪ Jungles without lions
I’m hot without trying ♪
♪ I made it, you heard it,
and now buy it ♪
♪ Yo easy to touch
but hard to hold ♪
And he was thinking,
“You know who would kill
this too?”
I was like, “Who?”
He was like, “M.O.P.”
So they came over
and we did this track.
♪ Violate I just need to go
through and visit
your prostate ♪
♪ It’s the M-O-P ♪
I remember sending
the beat to “Ooh Wee”
to Ghostface’s manager.
And then he’s like, “Yeah,
Ghost is gonna call you.”
I was just so– like,
butterflies in the stomach,
’cause I’m just, like,
so psyched to be speaking
to Ghostface Killah.
Really want to make sure
I don’t say anything stupid.
He’s like, “Yeah, yeah.
So, that beat, it’s cool man.
It’s like some– it’s,
like, on some Tony Manero.”
And I was like, “Tony–
oh, that John Travolta–“
“Yeah, yeah,
it’s the Tony Manero shit.
I get it. So, like,
‘Saturday Night Fever’ thing.”
“Yeah, like, absolutely.
Like, whatever you want to do.”
Ghostface’s version
of “Saturday Night Fever”
is gonna be very cool.
( music playing )
♪ Yo ♪
♪ What’s the deal,
nigga? ♪
– ♪ Yo ♪
– ♪ La, la, la, la,
la, la, la, la, la ♪
♪ Hey, yo, what a night,
New York City ♪
♪ Heard it goin’ down
Friday night, midnight,
Atlantic City ♪
♪ Slot machines,
ding-ding-ding-ding-ding,
when they ring off ♪
♪ Lock the doors,
that’s when Ghost just G’d off ♪
♪ Cigars, paisley robes,
four bitches guardin’ me…♪
They sent me this verse.
It was really funny, too,
’cause he said my name
“Mark Bronson,” like with a B.
I couldn’t tell
if he was just saying that
’cause it sounded a bit tougher,
like Charles Bronson.
“Special guest star,
Mark Bronson.”
♪ Special guest star
is Mark Bronson… ♪
We paid him 25 grand
and he can’t say my name right.
That was, like the thing.
But, honestly,
it did sound tougher.
♪…ran through
they whole apartment ♪
♪ La, la, la, la,
la, la, la, la, la, la. ♪
It did feel like this amazing,
like, blank checkbook
from Elektra Records.
Because I sampled the strings
from “Sunny” by Boney M.
( music playing )
And then I sampled the drum
break from Dennis Coffey.
( drumbeat )
♪ When I step into the party,
all the ladies wanna know… ♪
So, basically, by the time
the publishing was done,
I owed 150%–
it’s like the movie
“The Producers.”
Whenever someone calls
me and is like, “Hey,
‘Ooh Wee’ is, like,
in the Domino’s ad again,
man, like, pizza’s on you.”
I’m like, “No, not even.”
Like, I get, like–
I get probably negative money
when it airs.
♪ Ooh wee ♪
I just thought
that I got to make this record
that was, like,
the record of my dreams.
But, obviously, it was probably
a pretty expensive record
if you’re looking at it
from the label point of view.
And then you get dropped,
and then suddenly
nobody’s returning your
phone calls anymore.
Like, the next year or two,
when it started
to get, like,
leaner times,
then I was just
probably thinking, like,
“Okay, maybe this isn’t gonna
happen for me anymore.”
( music playing )
2005, I remember
me and Q-Tip,
when we would drive
around in his car,
he’d always listen
to “Just” by Radiohead,
and I was always transfixed
by the guitar part
in the middle,
the way that the two woven
harmony lines worked together.
The…
( hums melody )
It was just so gorgeous,
and I just thought, like,
“I don’t know
what I want to do,
but I want to take
a part of that song,”
and I started to sample it
how I usually do,
and, like, sloop the guitar
and put a drum beat over it.
But it just felt,
like, stiff,
and it felt like I wasn’t
doing the song any justice.
And then I was like,
“What if I just try
and like actually
cover the whole song?”
( music playing )
I thought, if I can make the
chord progression of “Just,”
which is like that…
( hums melody )
…move like that, so it’s a…
( hums faster melody )
So I just started
to make this thing
and build this James Brown-y
breakbeat that I programmed.
And I was like, all right,
well, what do I do
for the really heavy guitars?
Like…
( imitates rock guitar )
And I was like,
what if I did, like horns?
‘Cause horns can set on top,
give the same energy, maybe,
like, and they’re not
gonna, like, swallow this
breakbeat whole.
( playing music )
♪ Can’t get the stink off… ♪
Zane Lowe:
I was in the studio
at Radio 1
when I played to Ed
from Radiohead.
I was the one
who played it to him.
I was interviewing him.
I was like, “Listen to this.”
He was like,
“This is funky as fuck.
Like, what is this?”
And I was like,
“This is Mark Ronson.”
He’s like,
“Yo, I love this.”
No one had, you know,
taken these songs and gone,
“Hey, I’m gonna give it,
sort of like a hip-hop,
Motown type spin.”
Like anything like that,
you know,
the attention goes
from positive to critical.
Like, “Oh, does anyone
really need another
horn-laced version
of a modern indie classic?”
Okay, you can say that
all day,
but when it first came out,
that was unique,
that was different.
We were like, “Yo,
what is this?”
( humming )
( mimicking drums )
( music playing )
So I was just having a little
fun doing these things
and I was like
if I’m never really gonna
have any success as a career
making music like
in a commercial sense
just make what I like at least.
( music playing )
I was so obsessed with groove
around that time
and lyrics and lyrical content
was such an afterthought to me.
♪ I love you much ♪
♪ It’s not enough ♪
♪ You love blow
and I love puff ♪
♪ And life is like a pipe ♪
♪ And I’m a tiny penny ♪
♪ Rolling up the walls inside ♪
Ronson: I knew about Amy
a little bit.
2003 around Carnival.
I think that’s right
when “Frank” dropped,
so I remember just seeing
these posters everywhere.
She was smiling and laughing
in this picture
and she looked kind of hot.
Guy Moot who was the head
of EMI publishing said,
“Do you know Amy Winehouse?
She’s in New York
for like a day.
Do you wanna meet with her?”
And I was like, “Yeah.
I remember like
that thing she put out.”
We’re sitting in my studio
and I’m like,
“So what kinda record
do you wanna make?”
She’s like, “I’ve been listening
to all this girl group stuff
like The Shangri-Las.
And I just I love this music.”
I was messing around the piano
and I don’t know exactly
where it came from
but I played something that I
thought sounded like something
that she would dig and was
a bit reminiscent of the thing
she had been playing.
And I came up with the chords,
the piano chords,
to “Back to Black.”
( mimicking piano chords )
( music playing )
I thought this is cool.
I don’t know what this is,
but it seems like a vibe.
So then I went added
a little drum kick.
Just went like…
( mimicking drum kicks )
And then I remember like
thinking like, okay, well,
let me put like a bunch of like
fake reverb on the tambourines.
So it’s like…
Like give it like my fake
version of like wall of sound.
Like this thing that she likes.
I was probably there till like
three or four in the morning
and came back at like noon
and she came.
And I was like,
“I did something last night
like inspired by what
you’re talking about.
See what you think.”
And so I remember sitting
in the studio,
and she’s kinda like sitting
behind me and I play it
and I’m kinda trying to read her
while I’m playing it.
And she’s kinda just like
very like…
( music playing )
Impossible to read.
And I was like, “Oh,
it’s not moving her.
You don’t like it.
I can just tell.”
I go, “Whatever,
it doesn’t matter.
It’s not the end of the world.”
And she looks like she’s like…
she’s like,
“It’s what I want my whole album
to sound like. I love it.”
And I was like, “Cool, great.”
And she took headphones
and a little Discman,
and went in the back room,
where we had, like, the drums
set up, by herself for an hour
and just came back and had
written “Back to Black.”
( music playing )
♪ He left no time to regret ♪
♪ Kept his dick wet ♪
♪ With his same old safe bet ♪
♪ Me and my head high ♪
♪ And my tears dry ♪
♪ Get on without my guy ♪
By the third or fourth day,
the first time I did something
that she didn’t like
I was working on this
instrumental track
and she came, I was like,
“Do you like this?”
It was like a little too,
like, clap busy, like, funky
and she’s like, “No.”
I started kinda scrambling,
like taking different things
out of the track.
“Like what about– Is it that
thing you don’t like?
If I take that shaker out?”
She’s like, “Mark, it’s shit.
Like why are you trying
to fix it?”
Well, that bluntness kinda stung
quite a bit
for, like, probably an hour.
Like, it was–
It was a good lesson.
Just like how to just
make better shit
and just be more honest.
Dude, that sounded
like a good take.
That was cool with you guys?
Ooh, I messed up a few times
’cause you told me I was gonna
have to revocal it,
– so I wasn’t–
– Yeah, no, it’s cool.
– So, um, what next?
– Is it helping having Amy
sitting in
– or is it distracting?
– It helps.
– Okay.
– “Is it distracting?”
I love that, love that.
Man:
Yeah, you’re a distraction.
( music playing )
♪ We only said goodbye
with words ♪
♪ I died a hundred times ♪
♪ You go back to her ♪
♪ And I go back to ♪
We gotta talk
about “Back to Black.”
Which is just one of the best
albums of the century.
I mean, an extraordinary album.
His ability to create
like a kinda backdrop
in front of which
Amy was able to let rip
the most emotional songs.
It was incredible.
The winner of the Best British
Female, Amy Winehouse!
( cheers and applause )
Ronson: The voice alone
would’ve been enough
if she never wrote a song,
then the fact
that she played this music,
was so frank and honest,
and then had the command
of language
to actually convey
those emotions
in the most insanely,
clever, poetic way.
Oy. What can I say?
Thank you very much.
Uh, yeah, thank you.
( cheers and applause )
I mean, of course,
it suited me in my life
to be the producer really
because that’s–
I didn’t want to express
my emotions anyway.
I didn’t feel comfortable
doing that.
So it’s easy to like–
And they become then
like chicken or egg.
Like are you the producer
’cause you like you engage
in these tactics and take on
these character traits
’cause they kinda serve you
and like the fact
that you don’t really wanna
have to ever express yourself
or open up.
I mean, there’s something that
I always really, like,
think about
that like– As somebody
who came from like a fairly
turbulent childhood,
it makes sense that, like,
I kinda zeroed in on the role
where, like, I would spend
as much time in a room
by myself as possible.
Be the complete captain
of my own ship
and nobody could really tell me
what to do.
And, like, I guess that kinda
makes sense,
like, I just made
my own wall around myself
and just completely,
you know,
became only about that
for 20 years of my life.
( music playing )
♪ On the plane, on my brain,
’bout to do the sho ♪
♪ 40k contract
take it out the do’ ♪
Record collection was like
this very free-wheeling
kind of fun.
Get my friends in.
“Hey, it feels good, right?
Let’s put it out.”
“Bang, bang, bang”
was interesting because we were
all in the studio together.
And he was going through
tracks, playing different songs.
And he came across one,
and I believe he even
skipped past–
it was starting to skip past it,
I was like, “Wait, wait.
What’s that?”
♪ Un, deux, trois ♪
♪ Oh, uh ♪
♪ Uh, turn it up
a little bit more ♪
♪ Bang, bang, bang ♪
( music playing )
He’s like, “Do you like that?”
I’m like, “Yeah.”
♪ Cruel world is fittin’
they got us all hittin’ ♪
♪ With late night divisions
and lab app decisions ♪
♪ But based with decisions,
to fight a fricassee ♪
♪ And you’ve clearly decided
on how to handle me ♪
♪ Difficile, immbocile,
is it fake, is it real ♪
♪ Are we dying on our feet
are we trying in our sleep ♪
♪ There’s a rumor goin’ ’round
’bout the suits runnin’ town ♪
♪ If you look into the sky
them birds fly high ♪
– ♪ High, high, high ♪
– ♪ Numbers… ♪
Q-Tip: That was the record
that kind of really
not only cemented him in terms
of his production skills,
but it really paved
new ground for him
in the genres
of rock and pop.
And that’s where he really
started to–
after that record,
to kind of ascend
and you see his production
started to take off
from there
and those are reasons.
( music playing )
♪ Je te plumerai la,
tete ♪
♪ Je te plumerai la, tete ♪
♪ Come on, come on,
come on ♪
Boy George:
Pop music’s always at its best
when it’s kind of really good
and also a little bit cool.
You know, and I think that’s
what Mark brings
to anything he does,
you know.
It’s like there’s an edge
to it.
( music playing )
Ronson:
We had this bassline, um…
( mimicking bass )
And it was always this thing
that sat around
that we really loved.
We just couldn’t get
the right song for it.
I remember we came up
with that line like,
“I want somebody to love me”
and it just came out of nowhere,
but I was like is that
too basic?
Like can we say that in a song?
And he was like, “I don’t know
it just feels good. It’s okay.”
And I don’t really know
where it came from
because at that time I wasn’t
trying to channel any honesty
or music or like that
or challenging myself
to like get an emotion.
It just kinda came out.
( music playing )
– One, two, three.
– All: Happy, happy, happy,
happy birthday.
( cheers and applause )
We had the whole song down
in this demo.
And I just, like, I don’t know
why I woke up with this idea.
I was like we need to get
Boy George to sing this
song as well as a duet.
What I liked about it was–
it was–
It was easy to work out
what it was about.
But it was– It painted
all these great pictures.
You know, you could kind of–
You could always put a lot
into it, you know.
And I was like, “Yeah, I really
like this, you know.”
‘Cause it felt like
it was about redemption.
It felt like
it was about recovery.
It felt like it was–
It kinda felt like it was about
what I’d been through, you know,
but sort of tidied up.
I didn’t really know Boy George.
I didn’t have a relationship
with him.
Hadn’t heard him sing
in 20 years.
The song was in,
like, the highest key
you could possibly have gone
and I was like fuck, man.
I don’t Mark well enough
to kind of just, you know–
I think we played
around the key a bit,
but he was really pushing me.
And I was really–
I was really insecure.
I was really like,
“Wow, I don’t know
if I can do this,
but I have to.
You know, ’cause I’m
in the studio now
and I’ve gotta get on with it.”
So I was really intimidated
by my own fears, you know.
– ( cheers and applause )
– ( music playing )
At the back of
the Zenith in Paris.
It’s very noisy.
I’m here with Mark Ronson
and The Business posse.
Doing one song tonight,
“Someone To Love Me.”
and they’re screaming
for me already.
♪ I don’t wanna see you go ♪
♪ I want somebody to love me,
yeah ♪
♪ Why’d it take
so long to know? ♪
♪ I want somebody to love me ♪
♪ I want somebody
to be nice ♪
♪ See the boy I once was
in my eyes ♪
♪ Nobody’s gonna save
my life ♪
♪ Oh ♪
I think just where his voice was
at that point with like–
had this beautiful broken
almost like
Edith Piaf
when she’s singing like some
of the latest songs.
Like someone who’s lived life,
who’s known regret,
who’s felt all these things.
His actual words to me were,
“You got the road
in your voice.”
He said that to me and I was
like, “Yeah, I have.
I have a few other things
as well.”
Having him come up
at Glastonbury
and sing the song with us
was like a proper, like,
Glastonbury-like moment
for sure.
♪ I don’t wanna see you go ♪
♪ I want somebody to love me,
yeah ♪
♪ Why’d it take
so long to know? ♪
♪ I want somebody to love me,
yeah ♪
♪ I want somebody to love me ♪
Boy George: Understanding that
music has the ability
to really affect people
emotionally and spiritually
I think is really important
when you’re making records.
It is funny, like, the one time
I offered a lyric to a song
I just like blurted out
“I want somebody to love me.”
I mean, I was in a relationship
with somebody about
to get married.
Like it seems like,
but I don’t wanna put
too much importance on it
’cause I could’ve just been
trying to write a line
that maybe felt good
in the pop context.
♪ See the boy
I once was in my eyes ♪
( music playing )
♪ Ooh ♪
You read all these books
about, like, children
from certain childhoods
and they keep using this word
like “You feel unlovable.
You feel unlovable.”
I’m like, well that’s not true.
I, like, completely
feel loved.
But there’s– I think
it’s deeper than that.
It’s like this sense
of something broken deep down
that you’re, like, kinda like
constantly trying to repair it.
( music playing )
This song with King Princess
that she wrote on my album
is one of my favorites.
We will probably most likely
make a real video for this
at some point, like,
a high-end one,
but I just wanted to make
a fun visual or something
that we get
to tease the song.
– And she has this kinda like
weird–
– Mark?
– Yeah?
– Is this our wig?
– It was–
– Did you just snatch my wig?
Ronson: 2016 I was out here
and we heard these demos
of King Princess.
– Well, because–
– Let’s put our heads together.
I love the songs.
I love the tone of her voice.
I was like, wow.
This is the tone
we want to set.
This is how we want
to start this label.
– Mark it.
– all: Whoa!
Exactly the same splat.
( overlapping chatter )
Far out.
♪ Pieces of us ♪
♪ Our love ♪
♪ Our trust ♪
♪ No matter which way
you cut it ♪
♪ There’s pieces of us ♪
– ♪ Our love, our trust ♪
– Ah! The acting!
Ronson:
We’re just trying
to run a label
just cause we want
to put out music, good music.
Not ’cause we want to, like,
rip anyone off
or turn them into
indentured servants.
Sometimes it’s so much stress
and effort,
and I’m just like, “Ah,
this is the thing that takes
the most time,
sort of, sometimes
out of my day.”
And it’s probably made me
absolutely zero cent of money
so far.
Let me just tell you
I have–
I know you’d like to believe
you’ve had more experience
than me,
but you haven’t.
I have more hits.
I have more songs.
Well, that’s cool, but, like,
I’m just, like, out here
smoking big joints,
making records for my chickens,
I got so much Instagram heat
right now, it’s crazy.
At the end of the day,
it’s about hits.
It’s about followers and DMs.
We can agree to disagree,
but my numbers don’t lie.
– That’s cocky. That’s fire.
– ( laughter )
Tell me that’s not something
you would say word for word.
All the records you make
are obviously
a little bit influenced
by surroundings.
Like you can’t help seep in.
Whether it’s just a mood
or literally typography
or whatever.
Like being in Venice Beach
where we made that record.
It’s not like the poshest part
of Venice
and it just has this sunny
but seedy thing that
kind of influences,
quite Steely Dan,
noirish aspect to the racket
and then, like, hopping across
town every now and then to, um,
to go to Bruno’s studio
to work on like “Uptown Funk.”
It was like this really fun,
like, more joyous kind of thing.
♪ Doh ♪
♪ Doh doh doh doh doh ♪
♪ Doh doh ♪
I’m not saying, like, coming out
here was suddenly like this
evolved or like, okay, now
I’m here I wanna make money.
But it was definitely like
let’s really fucking dial
this shit in.
♪ Doh doh doh doh doh ♪
Just because a song feels good,
that doesn’t mean
it’s finished yet.
You can still dial in more,
little more hooks,
little more ear candy in.
And also just like being
in a brain trust
in a room with guys
like Bruno Mars
and Jeff Bhasker.
They’re like, “What about one
more hook? What about–
Hey, I’m doing this, ‘Girls
hit your hallelujah thing.'”
And I’m like, “Cool. And what
about like something at the end
like ‘Uptown funk you up,
Uptown funk you up.'”
Like, we’re just all
kinda like firing
at, like, this really inspiring,
exciting side
from when we’re working
on those records.
( music playing )
♪ This hit, that ice cold ♪
♪ Michelle Pfeiffer,
that white gold ♪
♪ This one,
for them hood girls ♪
♪ Them good girls,
straight masterpieces ♪
♪ Stylin’, wiling’,
livin’ it up in the city ♪
♪ Got Chucks on
with Saint Laurent ♪
♪ Gotta kiss myself,
I’m so pretty ♪
♪ I’m too hot
hot damn ♪
Ronson: Bruno had called me
to work on his second album.
♪ Hot damn ♪
And I was trying to run away
or just disown this, like,
super retro tag.
And I’d seen him in the suits
doing the James Brown stuff
and I was like maybe this is
just like us together
is just too much retro.
And then I met with him
and he was like,
“I wanna make sure that whatever
we do sounds nothing
like whatever anyone
expects Bruno Mars
and Mark Ronson to do.
No ’60s drums, no Motown thing.”
I was like,
“Oh, this is fucking great.
I love this guy.”
♪ Saturday night
and we in the spot ♪
♪ Don’t believe me,
just watch ♪
♪ Come on ♪
♪ Doh doh doh doh doh ♪
♪ Ah ♪
♪ Don’t believe me,
just watch ♪
♪ Doh ♪
♪ Doh doh doh doh doh ♪
Bruno played the drums
and there was this drum
fill that he played
towards the end that was like–
It was at the end.
And he goes…
( mimics drums )
But it like–
it would just didn’t have–
Just by itself while
everything’s like…
( mimics drums )
We were like, “No, no, no.
That needs a moment
that drum fill.”
It wasn’t until we wrote like…
( mimics drums )
…like that it made context
and made sense for that
drum fill to be there.
And that’s what happened
like the entire song.
Like no moment was kinda left
unthought about.
♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
– ♪ Come on ♪
– ♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
– ♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
– ♪ Say what? ♪
♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
Beyoncé: And the Grammy
goes to “Uptown Funk.”
♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
– ♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
– ♪ Say what? ♪
♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
( music playing )
I just wanna thank these guys
for being some
of the greatest musicians,
producers,
and arrangers around.
And I see George Clinton
over there.
A man who has done more
for the word funk
than we could ever hope
to dream of in our entire life.
– ♪ Come on ♪
– ♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
– ♪ Say what? ♪
– ♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
Every time I put out
a new single,
nothing breaks like a hard
“Uptown Funk” to the label.
So it’s like,
“Well, we don’t really–
You know, we’re getting a little
push back at radio.”
It’s got this thing and then–
And then if those songs go,
it’s amazing and they go huge
because they are
so refreshing.
– ♪ Uptown ♪
– ♪ What? ♪
♪ Uptown funk you up ♪
Well, I mean…
uh, my son was into that song.
He just wanted to hear it
over and over again.
And I liked the tune,
actually.
It reminded me
of many things.
It sounded very familiar
to many things.
Um, but the sound of it
was good.
Then he said something
about “Uptown Funk.”
Thank God
it’s a well-produced song
because the amount that
my kids make me listen
to it if it wasn’t,
I would have to kill you.
And he liked the kind of air
tightness
and like just when
they were stopped,
they were really pronounced
and everything had a lot
of intention.
And so he got it in his head
that he thought I’d be a good
producer for the Queens record.
Homme: But you know we’re making
our seventh record.
When you’re making
your seventh record,
you really need to explain
why I need to listen to it.
Like what didn’t you say.
I love the risk.
And so bringing in Mark already
had a sense of risk to it.
And so I like to fuck
with people like that
’cause it’s fun.
I don’t have many hobbies.
And just from the outside
on paper,
some people would be like,
“Oh, this isn’t gonna work.”
And actually, like,
a bunch of my friends
who are, like, massive
Queens fans, like,
like I am, they’re like,
“We’re really excited for you,
but, like, if you make
a shitty Queens album,
we’ll never speak to you again.”
( music playing )
♪ I was born in the desert,
May ♪
♪ Seventeen in seventy-three ♪
Homme: Personally, I really
wanted to tighten up the sound.
And make it go…
( mimics beats )
and have that modern twist
to it.
We’ve always had a certain
amount of dirtiness
to us, you know.
And I thought what if you could
see that even clearer
through a modern lens,
you know.
And I think really that’s sort
of deeper than his wheelhouse.
Our overlap, our concentric
circles are much greater
than people understand.
Ronson: I think once he saw
what I was about
and the dedication
and commitment to it,
and what a huge fan I was
of the band
and, like, I wasn’t gonna try
and fuck that up,
I think everybody was
pretty cool.
Your job is to take something,
a familiar feeling,
and deliver it in a manner
that feels utterly new
and that duality.
And that’s why
this never gets old.
And that’s why relationships
that seem like odd pairings
are the best places to start.
♪ Stand in the gutter ♪
♪ And my head’s in the clouds ♪
♪ Feet don’t fail me now ♪
I love to go dancing.
I wanna shake hip,
I don’t wanna be hip.
That’s everything.
So how do you take something
complicated like that
and ensure that the groove
has nothing to prove?
That it’s just laying there
like a, you know,
like an elephant
on a turn table.
( music playing )
♪ Time to go ♪
Ronson: It is amazing to think
that, like,
I’ve slightly influenced
something by, like,
my favorite band,
you know.
Remember when you were
saying nay?
What do you got to say now,
motherfucker?
( music playing )
We open with no drums
’cause usually it comes in
with this four-on-the-floor
kick drum.
– Yeah.
– And then your strings
come back in…
in the pre-hear.
It sounds really nice.
You’ll hear it.
♪ It tells me heaven is
no closer than it was ♪
♪ My heart keeps pulling
in the wrong direction ♪
– ♪ I’m about to cross
that line ♪
– Oh, nice.
♪ Looking for the wrong
affection ♪
♪ Night after night ♪
– ♪ Tryna find
a new distraction ♪
– Oh, yeah.
♪ Wanna make it last
all night ♪
♪ Everything
that I’ve been mixin’ ♪
♪ All mixed up inside ♪
♪ When I get too on ya ♪
♪ And I wanna call ya ♪
– ♪ With late night feelings ♪
– Wow.
♪ When I get too on ya ♪
♪ And I wanna call ya ♪
♪ With late night feelings ♪
– ♪ On and on and on ♪
– Wow.
– Then it comes in.
So, it’d be like–
– I love it.
So, really it’s good
’cause we really get
to get a lot
of bang out of the buck
for the arrangement
that you did.
– Which was really nice.
– I love that.
The thing that I love
about David’s arrangements
is they create–
It’s– They’re– I think of them
as like three-dimensional
’cause they, like,
create this, like–
There’s all these melodies
and wonderful things
but, like, it’s not just an X
on Y axis.
There’s this, like,
swirling and this–
I picture like the–
the sh–
I don’t know why
it’s like round.
And I just knew I wanted to have
this thing start the record
that felt like you were being
sucked a little bit
into a story.
A bit of this Love Unlimited
Orchestra, Barry White way.
( music playing )
Taking the– the flavor
of the old-school stuff
and just– and then
what you just played,
– it’s in there.
– Right.
But it’s surrounded by all this
modern stuff
– and just beautiful sound.
– Yeah.
But you have to actually go
back to the well
– and actually get the roots
of that stuff…
– Yeah.
– …to pull from and then…
– Yeah.
– …you know, chop it up or
whatever.
– Yeah.
But it’s really fascinating
when you have any kind of art
where you borrow
from an earlier era
and it rings a depth
that might be lost.
To me what being an artist is
is not just making things.
For me being an artist, is that
you must have a perspective.
If you have no perspective,
you’re not an artist.
To me that’s like throwing
spaghetti against the wall
seeing if it sticks.
Oh, it makes a line, whatever.
But your perspective on it,
what do you have to say?
Man: Hey, uh–
All right.
Gaga: And that is
where Mark got me.
He’s like,
“What do you have to say?”
Ronson:
She just would come in
every day with, like,
jean shorts and, like,
cowboy boots and, like,
a tank top and I was like,
I’m just seeing this very
stripped back side of her
and I feel like that maybe
hasn’t been portrayed that much
in the music.
And I wonder if that’s
an interesting place to go.
“You know, Gaga, I know you can
write a great pop song.
You know, we all know that.”
He said, “But what do you have
to write about?
Like if there was just one thing
that you could choose
that you had to write about,
what would it be?”
And I said, “Well, you know,
my father was deeply affected
by the death of his sister
when he was 15 years old.”
She was 19, she died,
and her name was Joanne.
For my entire life, I have tried
to understand my father.
Uh, understand my father’s rage,
my father’s sadness.
And I wanted to write a song
that would be the words
that I felt that my father
would’ve said or sang to her
had he had the opportunity
to say goodbye.
( music playing )
And we went out
into the field,
you know,
right behind the studio,
and he sat there
with an acoustic guitar
and I started to sing
and he started to play.
♪ Take my hand, stay Joanne ♪
And he was playing
that sort of Arpeggio,
beautiful acoustic guitar part.
And I was like, “That’s it.
That’s it right there.”
I was like,
“repeat that.”
And he kept on playing it
and we just kept writing
and then we arrived
at what I thought my father
would have said to his sister.
“Girl, where do you think
you’re going?”
( music playing )
♪ Take my hand ♪
♪ Stay Joanne ♪
♪ Heaven’s not ready ♪
♪ For you ♪
Mark provides a space.
This tremendous,
beautiful, creative space
where you just know
you’re in good hands.
And he also was so empowering
to me as a female.
So, for Mark to say that he’s
not emotionally articulate,
I would say is a lie.
Sorry, Mark.
But he’s like my brother,
so I can say it.
I trust his hands,
he trusts mine,
we worked together,
and it was beautiful.
♪ Girl, where do you think
you’re goin’? ♪
♪ Where do you think
you’re goin’? ♪
♪ Goin’, girl? ♪
Bradley Cooper:
Music’s everything.
Any other art form
I think is trying to do
what music does indelibly,
which is just
get us as close as we can
to the divine.
Musicians are the–
They sort of, you know–
That’s the sort of black tar
heroin of art, you know.
They go right to the–
to the– to the vein.
♪ …Don’t work that way ♪
Cooper: I’d never heard her sing
anything like that before.
The honesty of it,
the simplicity.
I thought, “Wow. Look at this
woman’s gonna make this album
that’s so outside the box.”
And she found an artist
like Mark Ronson to work with.
So, I was– I was very impressed
with her audacity.
There was no separation
between her and Ally
in my mind, you know.
It wasn’t like,
oh, she’s right for the role.
I created the role based on her
agreeing to do the movie.
Ronson: We were working
on “Joanne”
and she was talking
about this movie she was–
she wanted to do
“A Star is Born.”
Bradley Cooper was gonna
make it
and she was like
can we take a week off?
Just to kind of work on songs
for “A Star is Born.”
I didn’t know if we had a week
to take out to work on songs
for “A Star is Born.”
I didn’t even know if “A Star is
Born” was really gonna happen,
but I like Bradley Cooper a lot
in movies.
And then he, like, came
to the studio one day
and just, like, glows
like an angel.
And just like,
“Yeah, whatever you say.”
I was like, oh, this guy is
interested in partaking.
I feel like, wow.
I was very, uh, flattered.
Even though, of course,
it has to do with her,
but even the fact that he would
believe in me at all
and risk having his name
associated with it
was a huge boost of confidence.
We worked on some songs.
We got the “Shallow” idea down.
She likes everyone
to put the headphones on
and she has the mic, so you
really hear all the nuances
and the special bits
of her voice.
It’s really inspiring
and it changes the course
of, like, how you might write.
Gaga:
Those guys, they let me fly,
but they– they fed me so much
and then I fed it back to them
and then they would feed it
back to me.
It’s this synergy, you know.
I call it alchemy.
It’s like– It’s like
we’re chemists in a, you know,
beautiful,
artistic science lab.
And then all of a sudden…
you’ve invented something new.
♪ Tell me something, boy ♪
♪ Aren’t you tired tryin’
to fill that void? ♪
Ronson: Hearing her voice in the
headphones with those chords,
it just felt, like, special.
Like, the hairs stood up.
Like, it just felt
so consoling,
and gorgeous and heartbreaking.
All these things
at the same time.
♪ In all the good times
I find myself ♪
♪ Longing… ♪
You’re sitting in silence
and I say,
“Tell me something, girl.
Are you happy
in this modern world?”
And the answer, which is not
in the song, is no.
I am not happy
in this modern world.
I need more.
Is there something else
you’re searching for?
It was her, um, her desperation,
and just the rhythm of it.
You know, it’s–
Again, here’s why I love music.
You can’t explain it.
Like, what is an E flat?
Like, can you really explain it?
No, you just play it.
♪ In the shallow, shallow ♪
♪ In the shallow, shallow ♪
Cooper: My favorite thing
was I was editing the movie
and I called Mark.
I said, “Hey, can–“
He was the first person
I showed anything to.
He– It was such a boost
of confidence.
‘Cause I didn’t know
if he was gonna go, “What?”
And the look on his face
was like–
I mean, he looked rocked.
I remember he just thought,
“What the– Like, what?”
They’ve taken this song and just
like given it, like, spinach.
Do you know what I mean?
Like– You’re like-
They’ve taken something that was
like pretty good and powerful,
invested it with so much,
like, emotion
’cause you’re like
if you love the movie,
you will love this song.
If you believe in, like,
them falling in love,
like, this song is attached
to it.
And the Oscar goes to…
– Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson–
– ( cheers and applause )
Gaga:
When we won an Oscar together,
I mean, it’s like I cried
my fucking eyes out
holding him in his arms,
and looking at him going,
“This is my buddy.”
Thank you to Mark Ronson,
to Anthony Rossomando,
to Andrew Wyatt.
My co-writers,
I love them so much.
I was with my buddies,
all three of them.
My buddies.
Just kids
that, literally, have sat
outside a bar,
in the gutter,
smoking cigarettes,
talking about music,
maybe humming some tunes.
The four of us, we wrote a song
that won an Oscar.
( cheers and applause )
Only because you can’t
really thank yourself.
I think when you’re in the room
with this person,
you really don’t have to do
too much.
So, she acts, she writes,
she sings the song.
Lady Gaga, we salute you.
– Thank you for this.
– ( cheers and applause )
Were the Oscars– were they just
an out-of-body experience?
On the way to the Oscars,
we’re, like,
if something happens
and we’re lucky enough to win,
who speaks–
’cause we knew
she was gonna speak.
And then we’re like, me,
Anthony, Andrew,
all just decided
like, nobody’s gonna speak.
We just let her talk.
That’s who you wanna hear talk.
This is her moment,
and we’ll just like nod
and leave the stage.
So we decided this thing
and then at the last minute
she gives her beautiful speech
and kinda looks over at me like,
“Mark, you wanna add anything?”
And I was like, “Uh…”
and I just, like, said, like,
basically,
you know, you said it
to me after.
I was like, “You can’t really
thank yourself.”
– So, this is ridiculous.
– It was one–
“You are the driving force
of this song.”
That’s one of the best things
I’ve heard
– at an awards show.
– Right.
Like you crushed
that moment and dude,
if someone had just thrown me
on a speech like that
without even realizing,
I’d been like, “Uh…”
Well, I would’ve.
I just, like–
the gods were smiling on me
at that moment.
But I do–
but I do feel like a dick
because I’m like–
I’m like telling
Anthony and Andrew,
“All right, this just in.
Nobody’s talking.
All right, it’s just Gaga.
This is the rules.
These are coming down.
None of us are gonna talk.
Right? Just Gaga.
We leave the stage.”
And that’s me.
I might talk a little.
Like, so I just suddenly felt
so bad like after.
I was, like, you guys know
she like looked at me.
Like, there was nothing to do
in that moment.
No, but in essence this
is an important realization
for anybody who’s enjoying
this conversation,
who recognizes the true,
true value in Mark.
Is that Mark is one of the
nicest people you’ll ever meet,
– but he’s a total shitter.
And the thing is…
– Yeah.
…that, you know, he will
absolutely present
himself in a regard
of like, “Hey, man,
it’s not really about me.
It’s totally cool, like,
it’s really about you.
– It’s totally fine,
but it’s kind of about me.”
– Yeah, totally.
– “It’s kind of a little bit
about me.”
– Yeah.
There’s been some
great examples of this.
Like the time I said,
hey, congratulations
on your Grammy
and you went, “Yeah,
there’s three Grammys
but don’t worry about it.”
– Yeah. Important tidbit of
information.
– And now how many is it?
– And now how many is it, seven?
– Seven, yeah.
Seven Grammys.
I think that’s always
subconsciously in the back
of your mind
’cause you’re thinking like,
“Was this the last one?
Is this the biggest thing?
Is the peak?”
I think it’s…
human biology.
Like, I mean we just–
to stay alive,
we’re, like, worried about,
you know,
we spent millions of years,
or I don’t know,
hundreds of thousands
of years worrying of, like,
if a lion or a bear
is gonna jump out
around the corner and eat us,
so that aspect of, like,
sitting in one place, like,
excited that you didn’t
get eaten by a lion
the day before
doesn’t seem very, like a,
like a very helpful tool
to human survival.
Like, you’re– like, I guess
it’s still a little bit
ingrained in us
to be thinking about
that next thing.
And then I think some have
more anxiety than others
and maybe there’s, like,
a healthy–
I keep using the word “balance”
’cause I just don’t want to,
like,
start sounding too self-helpy,
but yeah,
I’m trying to find the balance
of that, yeah.
( music playing )
London is the only city where
I’m like legit kind of famous.
Or like I forget like,
whoa, these people
really love my music.
Definitely more than people
like it in America
where I live.
Like, it’s funny it takes
a minute to click
and I’m like, I wonder
what they’re staring–
Oh, right, me.
( music playing )
This record feels like I kinda
just, like, left everything,
like, in those 13 songs.
I know it’s good.
I know it moves people.
It’s not gonna be for everybody.
I think there’s some people
that are gonna be like,
“What happened to the party guy?
He turned
into the disco ball off
or he smashed it into a
heart-shaped album of the week.
One thing I’ve learned
from reading all these reviews
is that in general
the heart-shaped album
is better than mine.
( music playing )
I think I’m just, like,
in a place in my life, like,
I feel like there’s not enough
time in the day to worry about
or sugarcoating something
or censoring yourself.
This is the first time
I’ve really taken
this much attention
and care and, like,
wanted to make sure
that the record was great.
The lyrics just have
to feel right.
They have to feel, like, feel
when you’re listening to them
for the first time.
Like, you’re, like,
“I believe this,” you know.
( music playing )
It’s a little, you know,
painful to listen to
for me now
because it’s like, you know,
it was written about
a relationship
I was in when I was making
the record, but…
it’s honest.
♪ Pour out what’s left
in a heart-shaped case ♪
♪ You can have it all, yeah,
it’s yours to break ♪
♪ If I don’t get it right
with you this time ♪
♪ I’m hopeless ♪
♪ But sometimes you’ll think
it’s been long enough ♪
♪ But old wounds carry,
carry into brand new love ♪
I had this dog for–
when I was 30 that died,
like, a couple years ago,
and then when I moved out here,
I didn’t have a dog.
And I actually didn’t realize
until, like, one minute,
I was like what’s this, like,
empty slot in my life,
basically.
And I kind of realized that
I just missed having a dog.
So I adopted Pablo.
And then, like, after a year,
I realized he was, like,
a bit lonely.
I just decided
I’d probably get him a friend
and then I adopted Maisie.
I love these dudes.
Sometimes when I think
about the fact that, like,
you know, I always maybe
probably imagined myself
having a family at this point.
There’s a dangerous thing
’cause you get so much
of a family dynamic
in your work and coming
to the studio.
And these people
that you work with,
where you go into these,
like, really forced
almost like emotional boot
camps for six months.
We have this sibling thing
and it’s like– or maybe you’re
more of like a caretaker
like a dad or an uncle
in some of these relationships.
And it’s easy to,
like, substitute that
for, like, maybe what you would
you get from your own family.
But they’re, like, totally
two different things.
I’m always, like, oh, fuck,
is that why I’m, like, still,
like, in this place?
Did I take a little long
to figure this out?
I don’t know what to say.
I don’t have any easy
answers for it.
Man: Rolling.
♪ Well sometimes I go out
by myself ♪
♪ And I look across the water ♪
♪ And I think of all the things,
what you’re doing ♪
♪ And in my head
I paint a picture ♪
♪ ‘Cause since I’ve come
on home ♪
♪ Well my body’s been a mess ♪
♪ And I’ve missed
your ginger hair ♪
♪ And the way
you like to dress ♪
♪ Won’t you come on over ♪
♪ Stop making a fool out of me ♪
♪ Why don’t you come on over
Valerie? ♪
♪ Valerie ♪
♪ Valerie ♪
♪ Valerie ♪
♪ Did you have to go to jail ♪
♪ Put your house up for sale ♪
♪ Did you get a good lawyer ♪
♪ I hope you didn’t
catch a tan ♪
♪ I hope you’ll find the right
man who’ll fix it for ya ♪

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