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Mark Ronson: My Life in 10 Songs

‘Uptown Funk’ producer talks collaborations with Ghostface, Amy Winehouse and Paul McCartney

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson shares the stories behind collaborations with Ghostface, Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars.

Monica Schipper/Getty

Mark Ronson began his career as a New York club DJ, spinning hip-hop for downtown trendsetters and warming up for Hot 97's Funkmaster Flex. Flying back and forth across the Atlantic, he has since produced rap records for Ghostface and Nas, pop-soul for Adele and Amy Winehouse and late-career gems by Paul McCartney and Duran Duran. For Ronson, these projects aren't as different as they appear: "Even when I made Back to Black," he says, "I was trying to make sure that every track on there, the RZA would hear and want to sample a piece."

With "Uptown Funk," his Bruno Mars-featuring tribute to early-Eighties R&B, at the top of the charts, the 39-year-old producer took us inside 10 of his biggest tracks, sharing behind-the-scenes stories from studio sessions with some of the most remarkable artists in music.

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson at Avatar Studios in New York on November 14th, 2014.

Griffin Lotz

Duran Duran, “All You Need Is Now” (2010)

"Duran Duran is probably my first favorite band that I can really remember. I really liked when they got into the slightly more rhythmic stuff, like 'The Reflex,' but I have to say as a whole album, my favorite is probably Rio. At first you're like, 'Holy shit, I can't believe I'm working with my favorite band,' but then you get over that quick because you need to start producing and contributing some great stuff to it. I think that that album is some of the best stuff they've written in years, and I really love the sound of it."

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson at Avatar Studios in New York on November 14th, 2014.

Griffin Lotz

Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven” (2012)

"That was an idea that Bruno had for a while, in a slightly different version, but when we started to work on the record he's like, 'I got this jam, I'm sure this is the one.' We must have worked on it for seven or eight different arrangements – different kinds of chords, different kinds of tracks – and we knew we were going to get this right at some point. Then it just clicked."

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson at Avatar Studios in New York on November 14th, 2014.

Griffin Lotz

Paul McCartney, “Alligator” (2013)

"Working with Paul McCartney was amazing on a lot of levels. The most obvious is when you say, like, 'Holy shit, I'm working with Paul McCartney!' But then the things that you learn about arrangements. And how still, at this point, he's in there playing wine glasses and pouring the wine to make sure the tuning is perfect to make an A-minor chord. He said something I'll never forget during the recording: We were recording an acoustic guitar, and he was like, 'Yeah, it sounds like a nice acoustic guitar, but I want it to sound like a record.' There's a million nicely-recorded guitar sounds, but you want that shit to sound iconic, like track two, Side B."

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson at Avatar Studios in New York on November 14th, 2014.

Griffin Lotz

Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (2014)

"Any one of us individually – Bruno, myself, Jeff [Bhasker] – could've made a strong record, but I think there's something really lovely and magical that happens when the three of us are in a room together. I'm not saying that it's three times better, I'm just saying that it's like a whole new thing. You always hear people complaining that they weren't into their biggest hit. I feel pretty lucky that the song that is my biggest hit is something that I am as proud of, and that it's also something I did with a friend."

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