Speaking to Another Man, Mark Ronson discusses his “most modern” record to date
- TextAlex Denney
Since breaking into the industry at the beginning of the millennium, producer and DJ Mark Ronson has garnered acclaim and gathered awards for his music, collaborating with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, Lily Allen and Lady Gaga along the way. To coincide with the release of his fifth album, Late Night Feelings – a slow-burning set of “sad bangers” – Ronson takes over the Another Man website, with a series of articles spanning interviews and guides that offer a glimpse into his world and the new record.
Unfortunately for him, Mark Ronson can remember the first lyric that he wrote. “Every time I think of you / you know what I wanna do,” the would-be lothario sang in his band from high school, straining gallantly to keep his libido in check.
“Even just saying this now out loud is making me hurt in my stomach,” says the producer over the phone from Air studios in London, cringing at the memory. Ronson returns to the boudoir on new album Late Night Feelings, released this week, but this time it’s heartbreak, rather than adolescent come-ons, that’s on his mind. “There’s a you-shaped space in my bed / always you-shaped thoughts inside my head,” sings guest star Camila Cabello on Find U Again, all but sniffing the pillow for traces of an ex that haunts this record’s synth-plated grooves. When they return, on the Lykke Li-fronted 2am, it’s on bittersweet terms for a bit of post-breakup sex – a moment of literal sad-banging on a record its author has described as a collection of “sad bangers”.
“This record is an odd contradiction,” says Ronson of the album, “because on the one hand it’s the most emo and sensitive record I’ve made, but on the other it’s the most consistently danceable record I’ve made.” That’s certainly true of lead single Nothing Breaks Like a Heart, a modern-day Jolene sung with conviction by Dolly Parton’s goddaughter, Miley Cyrus. But Late Night Feelings is arguably at its best on the title track, another Lykke Li collab with sumptuous disco overtones, and True Blue, a leftfield collaboration with Angel Olsen that could almost be a lost Bananarama deep-cut (trust us, it’s a good thing). Elsewhere, on the likes of Find U Again and Yebba’s tropical house-tinged ballad Don’t Leave Me Lonely, Ronson sounds as breezily of the moment as he’s ever done – inspired, in part, by his recent work with Diplo on supergroup Silk City.
For Ronson, who spent years living down the ‘retro’ tag he got saddled with early in his career, the record is his “most modern” to date. The producer has sounded off in the past about his distaste for modern production tricks, designed to squeeze maximum plays from streaming giants like Spotify. Today, he sounds unruffled. “I was just stating what it is, because if you wanna be with the times you do have to move with that shit. Me standing here complaining that songs have to be shorter now, I just sound like the grumpy ostrich with his head in the sand, and nobody likes a grumpy ostrich... I’m not ready to phase myself out the game just yet.”
Late Night Feelings by Mark Ronson is out June 21, 2019.