Uptown man: Music maestro Mark Ronson talks luck, fashion and social media
A musical chameleon
It's been a good year for Mark Ronson as his album Uptown Special garnered worldwide praise and recognition, thanks largely in part to the super hit collaboration with Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk". Now in the Middle East to mark the opening of the uber social spot, Intersect by Lexus at DIFC, Buro 24/7 Middle East spoke exclusively to the music maestro about his most important assets...
The music you produce is very much varied and eclectic. What new types of music are you into now?
I was in India recently and I heard so many amazing local Indian acts including producer Nucleya and the band Madboy/Mink. It's really inspiring see other interpretations of pop music.
Are there any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
I've just been in the studio writing for a new record. I also never disclose whom I'm working with because whenever I say it, something will always go terribly wrong and it never comes out. So I think it's just better to not say anything. I've learnt my lesson and I'm not trying to be cool or anything but it's really bad luck for me.
Speaking of bad luck, do you have any rituals before you perform?
I usually get nervous especially before a festival. Sometimes I find doing 20 push-ups provides a kind of distraction and helps channel away the nervous energy. It doesn't always guarantee anything so what I'd really have to do is just get out and play the first three records and then things usually fall into place.
On the topic of distraction, are other projects, like mentoring on The X-Factor and hosting shows like Nevermind the Buzzcocks, a welcomed escape from focusing on music?
I think it's fun and sometimes a challenge as well. Buzzcocks is such an iconic English show that I really wanted to host it. I don't know necessarily if these projects were the right thing to do because you do have to make sure that you're not just feeding your ego and vanity.
In this hi-tech age, do you feel that social media is a bane or boon for musicians?
I think it's amazing in the way that you can instantly have a song or remix and tweet it to your fans. It gives them a massive fanbase so it depends on how you use it. On the flipside, it can get a little too much, as musicians are constantly expressing themselves and we know what they had for breakfast or what their favourite colour is...Some of my favourite musicians, whether they're from the '50s or '60s, have an air of mystique around them and I feel like sometimes it's just cooler not to do anything.
You've mentioned before that camera phones are a distraction during concerts and that take away from the whole experience. Tell us your thoughts...
For me personally, I'd rather be watching it live than watching it through the screen. I think when people are watching the concert on their phones, they are less likely to have a communal experience, which is the beautiful thing about a concert because you are there sharing a song with 40,000 other people. I think the drawback of a smartphone is we all get so into our own personal world and it stops ourselves from connecting.
Moving away from music and onto your wardrobe. What's your advice for men?
I think men overall have gotten more fashionable over the past 5-10 years. I don't know if anyone needs my advice but the main thing is to kind of find your own voice. I just borrow different things that I really like and try to put it together in a way that's my own. I love Saint Laurent and think their stuff is really great. I also wear a lot of suits from the Japanese tailor designer Kyosuke Kunimoto and his brand Maison Lance.
OK one last question... If Mark Ronson were to quit music tomorrow, what would he be doing for the rest of his life?
I'd have to think about this because all I've done my whole life is music. I would probably say teaching music?! What I do in my spare time right now is just go to the gym, do some boxing and just hang out with my wife and my dog.