Story: Jack Foley
REMEMBER the name Mark Ronson, for the prolific producer/songwriter
and DJ is set to make a big impression over the next few months.
His debut album, Here Comes the Fuzz, is being released
on the Elektra label, while his first single, Ooh Wee, is generating
massive radio play on just about every worthwhile station.
And now he will be joining the ultra-cool Xfm boys at the All
City Show Live with DJ, Dan Greenpeace, at Plan B, 418 Brixton
Road, London, SW9, on Friday, October 24.
Ronson's debut album is not so much about redemption, as it is
about evolution. It was seen, by many, as the logical-next-step
the producer/songwriter/DJ who first made a name for himself as
a genre-hopping DJ with an ear for culture-clashing mixes.
Ronson, with typical aplomb, steps it up on his first solo disk,
eclectic batch of guest artists to rain down on his hip-hop, pop,
and alt-rock flavored gems, the irony being that the talented
Ronson isn't yet entirely comfortable with being called an 'artist'
"I like to think of myself as more of the visionary behind
this record," he explains.
"I'm not trying to be a star here, but the fore that stirs
it up, that knows
what sounds good by putting some pretty talented people together
otherwise might never step into a recording studio together."
Ronson's resume is already propped up by some fairly weighty
for superstars such as Jay-Z, Outkast, Moby, Nelly Furtado and
His stellar production work on the breakthrough Nikka Costa album
turned the heads of record label, A&R execs, who began to
think of Ronson as an aural triple threat, someone who could write
a song, produce it and remix it before he
even went out for coffee in the morning.
It was the A&R denizens at Elektra
who foresaw the artist Ronson.
Their faith in the charismatic New Yorker (he was born in England
moved to NY at the age of eight, so call it an adoption) has been
more than rewarded with an original and phosphorus first album.
Joined by flexible and ferocious talents such as Sean Paul,
White Stripes frontman, Jack White, Rivers Cuomo, (on the deliciously
Cuomo-esque I Suck) Nate Dogg, Q Tip,
Mos Def and Nikka Costa, Ronson sparks each performance, melding
rock, digital, and hip hop components into a sonic wonderland
Tracks such as the title opus, Here Comes The Fuzz, featuring
Freeway, Jack White and Costa, and the explosive On The Run, featuring
Mos Def and hardcore hip hop stalwarts MOP, simultaneously converge
and repel, with traffic controller Ronson displaying keen instincts
for crunching smackdowns, as well as
"I made a list of people I wanted to work with and a lot
of them came
through," he says modestly.
But it may surprise you to know Ronson himself is playing all
Schooled in a musical family, he learned drums, saxophone and
piano at an early age, relying on such chops throughout his DJ'ing
years to create the kind of dynamics that obviously serve him
well on his debut disk.
"I often hark back to those great Quincy Jones records of
the '70's and '80's," he recalls. "He didn't sing on
those albums, but when you heard a song like One Hundred Ways,
(featuring James Ingram) you heard it as a Quincy song.
"He was a genius at putting all the elements together and
"Making sure the right people in the right room were singing
the right song.
"The real secret is not to get in the way."
Ronson also has a knack for discovering new talent.
The album's final song, Tomorrow, features brand new Costa Rican
artist, Debbie Nova.
Ronson's faith in her abilities was so strong he teamed her with
hip-hop icon Q Tip.
"It's the first song we did for the album," he says.
"She's so amazingly talented. She sings and plays the keys.
"We got in a room together to write and I had this Latin
vibe and we just went with it.
"When I asked Q-tip to be on the album, I played him some
songs and he just loved this one the best."
Ronson describes the 'craziest' collaboration on the album as
aforementioned title song, featuring Jack White, among others.
"I really wanted to do like a rock version of this Freeway
song," he continues. "Everyone from the Beatles on up
has ripped off something they liked and snuck it in.
"I played it for Jack White and he was blown away. I got
Freeway to rhyme on it, and knew that only Nikka could pull off
"There's all these different angles
there, but it somehow works."
And what about Here Comes The Fuzz as a whole? Is Ronson's Elektra
debut the career upgrade of a musician who got his start DJ'ing?
Or the culmination of a musical auteur's pursuit of the ultimate
"I don't think it matters," he says. "I'm a music
fan. I've never been afraid to go out on a limb to create something
"At the same time, I always knew I wasn't going to win any
originality awards playing classics. I think the magic is in what
the result sounds like, whether it is in a club or in a studio
or coming out of your speakers.
"I have a good sense of what sounds good where."
Admission to the All City Show costs £6 admission and doors
are open from 9pm to 4am.