Rufus Wainwright Working With Mark Ronson on Poppy New Album

'The main objective is to be danceable'

May 20, 2011 9:00 AM ET
Rufus Wainwright in New York City, March 31, 2011.
Rufus Wainwright in New York City, March 31, 2011.
Charles Eshelman/FIlmMagic

Rufus Wainwright hit a New York studio with producer Mark Ronson this week to start recording a new album – and it's shaping up to be the poppiest music he's made in years. "We've been in for three days, and I already look 20 years younger," Wainwright told Rolling Stone. "I have to start looking around for motorcycle outfits or something, I feel so damn cool!"

After spending the last few years working on an opera, Prima Donna, and last year's dark piano cycle All Days Are Nights, Wainwright is looking for a new sound. "The main objective – not for the entire [album], necessarily, but for portions of it – is to be danceable," he said. "I just want to make something that you love, driving around in your car listening or losing your mind to on a dance floor. Something to serenade us through these very, very troubling times."

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Ronson, who has worked with pop acts including Amy Winehouse, Adele and Lily Allen, was an obvious choice.  "One is that he's made a lot of hit records," Wainwright said, listing the reasons he wanted to collaborate with Ronson. "Two, the records sound amazing. And three is that he's really good-looking."

Among the 15 or so songs currently in contention for the album are "Candles," a tribute to Wainwright's late mother, Kate McGarrigle; an untitled song about Montauk, where Wainwright and partner Jorn Weisbrodt have a house; and "I'm Out of the Game," about giving up stardom. "Hopefully it's a sarcastic number – but who knows," he said.

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After wrapping this week's sessions with Ronson, Wainwright will head to London in July for five dates at the Royal Opera and release an extras-packed 19-disc retrospective box set titled House of Rufus the same month. He'll take the rest of the summer off to spend time with his infant daughter, Viva, then resume work on the album this fall.

Speaking of Viva, who was born in February, she's already starting to inform Wainwright's songwriting. "There's nothing like impressing a little girl – nothing quite as lovely, and sometimes nothing quite as difficult," he said. "I've written three songs about her already."

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