Mark Ronson on missing the Bond theme - `a once in a lifetime situation`
Itâs fair to say that Another Way to Die, Jack White and Alicia Keysâ theme song for the latest Bond flick Quantum of Solace, is not Mark Ronsonâs favourite song, reports The West
After all, Amy Winehouse and transatlantic producer Ronson, who produced and co-wrote tracks on her Grammy award-winning album Back to Black were poised to record the theme before Ronson was forced to put the kybosh on the studio sessions due to the songstressâ erratic behaviour.
Speaking from his home in New York, the London-born DJ and producer says he wasnât so much annoyed as worried by Winehouseâs antics.
âThatâs somebody I care about,â Ronson says ahead of his first Australian tour with his six-piece group, Version Players.
âI was more worried about her as a person than I was whether we got the Bond theme done or not.
âBut, yeah, definitely when somebody offers you a Bond theme, itâs a once in a lifetime situation. (I was) sitting back a bit bummed watching the Jack White video on MTV.â
Two months after pulling the plug on the Winehouse sessions, Ronson did, however, get to do the next best thing to recording a new Bond theme â that was to perform an old one.
In July, he teamed up with his heroes, Duran Duran, constructing a 30-minute medley of their classics (including their 1985 Bond theme, A View to a Kill) using the original multi-tracks and then performing it with the New Romantic icons at a one-off, invite-only show in Paris.
âThat was great,â he laughs. âThey were the first band I ever had the Smash Hits sticker book for and posters on the wall.
âIâd go to the guy who cut my hair â it must have looked ridiculous â thereâs a row of 14-year-old boys waiting to get their hair cut and here I am with a picture of John Taylor. âCan you cut my hair just like him?â âNo, youâre gonna get the bowl (cut) like everybody elseâ.â
Ronson speaks in an English accent with a slight trace of the Big Apple. He moved to New York with his mother when he was eight but frequently returned to the UK to visit his father. His mother married Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, so his childhood was immersed in music.
He got involved in the New York hip-hop scene but also brought rock records back from the UK, mixing the two during DJ gigs in the 1990s.
After producing a single for soul-funk diva Nikka Costa and providing music for a Tommy Hilfiger commercial, Ronson unveiled his 2003 debut album, Here Comes the Fuzz â a genre-hopping collection featuring guest vocals from Jack White, Ghostface Killah, Mos Def, Weezerâs Rivers Cuomo, Sean Paul and others.
Ronson says the big names on his debut made it impossible to tour. So, when it came to making album number two, 2006âs Version, he decided to work with some unknown female singers on the lead tracks: Lily Allen sang on the remake of Kaiser Chiefsâ Oh My God, while Winehouse added soul fire to The Zutonsâ Valerie.
âThe songs are the stars of the record,â he says.
âI thought with this record Iâd just get people who werenât famous to come and do these vocals.
âAnd then, of course, in the six months after we did the record Amy and Lily turn out to be two of the biggest female pop stars in the world.â
And two of the biggest tabloid trainwrecks of recent times.
His sister, DJ Samantha Ronson, has also had her fair share of the spotlight due to her relationship with Lindsay Lohan. Ronson says Samantha, one of nine siblings, is very headstrong. âShe started her career because I couldnât DJ a club one night and she said, âWell, Iâll do it.â They asked her whether sheâd done it before and she said, âNo, but I can learn on the jobâ.â
How does he stay out of trouble when everyone around him seems to be falling apart?
âI have my fair share of acting like an idiot, too,â Ronson says. âIâm not nearly as closely watched as some of those people. And maybe itâs the advantage of not having success until a bit later on, like being 31 when you have your first hit single.
âAt the end of the day, Iâm still a producer which is a bit more of a faceless thing.â
And a very hard working one. Ronson says he feels lazy if he doesnât hit the studio every day â probably the main reason he keeps his nose clean. Heâs producing records for Australian R&B singer Daniel Merriweather, US rapper Wale and UK band the Rumble Strips. In the past two years heâs also worked with Kaiser Chiefs, Christina Aguilera, Robbie Williams, Maroon 5 and Adele.
Ronson says he doesnât seek out collaborators; most of the big names he hooked up through mutual friends or bumped into them at nightclubs or discovered via a demo tape. Stevie Wonder tops his wish list but heâll continue to work with whichever artists cross his radar.
One of his next projects might see him attempt another reunion with Winehouse. The pair have been asked to contribute a track to a Quincy Jones tribute.
Funnily enough, Ronson got engaged to Jonesâ daughter Rashida in 2003 but they have since broken up. While he was too nervous to ask the legendary producer any big questions about music, Jones nevertheless passed on some useful tips.
Ronson has already made inroads into Jonesâ total of 27 Grammy awards, winning three trophies at this yearâs awards, including the coveted producer of the year title.
âIt sits on my mantelpiece and every now and then, I go, âHoly s...! How did I get that?ââ he laughs. âMy stepdad made music for 30 years, sold millions of records and never won a Grammy. The Beatles never won a Grammy, until they put out the Free as a Bird thing.â
Ronson also shared awards for record of the year and best pop vocal album with Winehouse for Back to Black, but says the producer of the year gong was the ultimate reward.
âBut it doesnât give you anything or pay you a monthly stipend,â he adds. âYou still have to go and work and do what you do, and just feel that you got to experience that.â
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