Mark Ronson: Amy said 'Are you making me sound like the bloody Libertines?'

Mark Ronson @ Brancaleone, Roma

At the New Yorker festival, the producer talked about his career, from producing Amy Winehouse to pocketing $100 from Puff Daddy, before performing six songs

It’s scheduled to be released next month, but Adele’s new album still needs work if a talk by Mark Ronson on Saturday was anything to go by.

The Uptown Funk star was introduced at the New Yorker festival by the magazine’s staff writer John Seabrook, who said that the producer had come straight from London where he was working on the much-delayed album, thought to be called 25.

Ronson said that many people had worked on the album, and that he wasn’t sure whether his productions would make the final cut.

Last month, Damon Albarn said that he had also worked on five tracks, but that he did not expect them to be released. He added that he had heard songs produced by Danger Mouse, which he described as “very middle of the road”.

Ronson described his rise as a hip-hop DJ in the 90s, saying “all of a sudden people like Biggie and Puffy and Jay Z would be coming to our club nights”. One night, Puff Daddy gave him his number and a $100 tip.

“I framed it above my turntable for a long time, but I was probably making $300 cash a week at that point and at some point I had to open the frame to buy pizza. I told him this story about 15 years later and he reaches in and he gives me $100 and I think, ‘this is a pretty good racket’. I put the $100 in my pocket and the next day I’m in a cab going to JFK and we get halfway there and I think ‘Fuck, my wallet’ and I realise all I have was the $100 from Puffy. At least the last time it made it six months – this one didn’t make it a day.”

Ronson went on to talk about Amy Winehouse, saying: “She had really great chops, a really great way around the guitar with jazz chords because that’s what she loved.” He added that Winehouse never changed her lyrics once she’d written them in a burst of inspiration.

“I remember when she first sang Back to Black and I was blown away by it but she sang: ‘We only said goodbye in words / I died a hundred times’. The uptight producer in me said: ‘That’s weird, it doesn’t rhyme. Do you think you should change that?’ She looked at me like I was an alien because to her, she wrote it like that – that was what came out.”

Ronson also described the recording of Rehab, which he said Winehouse first wrote as more of a 12-bar blues. When Ronson speeded it up after wondering “how are people going to dance to this?”, adding his own “shitty drumming”, Winehouse asked: “Are you trying to make me sound like the bloody Libertines?”

The evening concluded with a performance of six songs from Uptown Special including Uptown Funk, now one of the biggest hits of all time, having spent 14 weeks at No 1 in America.

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