Mark Ronson: ‘You’ve got to move at the speed of inspiration’

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Ronson played at Glastonbury last month

For music fans, the streaming era has been particularly fertile – with artists increasingly able to distribute new music as soon as it’s ready.

Ariana Grande, for example, left just five months between her chart-topping albums Sweetener and Thank U, Next.

Others like Billie Eilish and Drake have released a constant stream of music, maintaining a high profile in a constantly-shifting pop landscape.

For Mark Ronson, the shift to near-immediate releases is “very inspiring”.

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Cyrus and Ronson performed together at Glastonbury

“If you have that amount of music and it feels right and you can put it out, that’s great.”

He says pop artists are increasingly “taking their cue from rap,” where artists like Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa pioneered the idea of street albums and mixtapes – collections of experimental material or unpolished off-cuts to tide fans over between “official” releases.

In fact, that’s exactly how Grande envisaged her current run of hit records.

“My dream has always been to be – obviously not a rapper, but, like, to put out music in the way that a rapper does,” she told Billboard last year. “It’s just like, ‘Bruh, I just want to talk to my fans and sing and write music and drop it the way these boys do.”

“Ariana’s music is so confessional,” says Ronson. “She’s like, ‘I had a break-up, I feel like this, and I want to put a song out about it tomorrow’. It’s very inspiring.”

However, the musician, who produced Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black and scored a global hit with his Bruno Mars collaboration Uptown Funk, says he wouldn’t necessarily consider putting out music at such a rapid pace himself.

“I would never do it to keep up with a trend,” he tells the BBC. “You’ve got to move at the speed of inspiration.”

The star was speaking as he unveiled his latest video, for the Camila Cabello collaboration Find U Again.

The clip casts Ronson as a bounty hunter, who’s ordered to capture Cabello “dead or alive” for a reward of $5,000 (seems a bit tight-fisted, but there you go).

It’s a vague echo of his real-life attempt to track down the Fifth Harmony star, after hearing her voice on the radio.

“I had the little demo of this song and I knew it had to have a perfect voice on it,” he told Z100 New York earlier this year.

“I heard [Cabello’s single] Never Be The Same and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s the voice,’ because it cuts so hard, but she delivers a lot of emotion.”

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Sony Music

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Mark Ronson and Camila Cabello in the video for Find U Again

After finally establishing contact, the song “came together at the 11th hour,” he said, with Cabello adding her own lyrics to the chorus – “some of which she’s had since she was 16”.

The song is lifted from Ronson’s fifth album, Late Night Feelings, which entered the UK charts at number four last month.

It also features collaborations with Lykke Li, Yebba, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Miley Cyrus, on the track Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.

Ronson and Cyrus joined up at Glastonbury to perform that track together – but the producer says a full tour for the album would be difficult to pull off.

“It’s so hard to get all these people together,” he told the BBC. “I don’t know if I could pull that off again.

“But it’s wonderful to get up with Miley and do our song – just stage invading and not overly stressing out.”

Ronson also popped up at Glastonbury’s Park Stage to play with his protege King Princess – dressed in a replica of her outfit.

The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Mikaela Straus, is one of 2019’s most hotly-tipped new talents, coming second on the BBC’s Sound of 2019 list.

“I love her as a person and as a musician,” said Ronson, who signed Straus to his label last year.

“I watched her do her first Glastonbury, which gave me slight proud dad feelings. It’s like a rite of passage.”

But he noted that the singer’s first Glastonbury experience was somewhat different to his own.

“We came here in 2007 and it was one of the really muddy ones,” he recalled. “We were with this rapper WALE who was touring with us and he wouldn’t get off the bus because he didn’t want to get his brand new Nike sneakers muddy.

“Luckily, we found out Dizzee Rascal had wrapped his sneakers in bin bags the night before when he got on stage with Arctic Monkeys, so we told him that and eventually got him off the bus.

“But it was a magical experience. We were in the John Peel tent and you don’t know how big you are or who’s going to come, but that night the tent was overflowing, and it was just wonderful.”

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