Samantha Ronson may have earned her fame as a go-to DJ on the Hollywood party circuit, but she started out as a singer-songwriter. And at a time when many of her fellow DJs are reaping the benefits of the current dance musc boom, Ronson recently turned her attention back to rock with a new album, Chasing the Reds, which she quitely self-released at the tail end of 2011. A new version of the LP’s title track can be heard exclusively here at Rolling Stone.
Ronson, who still has a DJ residency in Las Vegas, admits that making a dance album would have been the obvious choice. “That probably would have been the smart move, but at the same time, that’s not where my heart is,” Ronson tells Rolling Stone. “I grew up listening to rock & roll, so to me it was like, ‘Okay, I’ll go to Vegas and play what you guys want to hear if I can go home to the studio and play what I hear.’”
Produced by Jimmy Messer, Chasing the Reds takes an eclectic approach, from the pulsing beat of “Sometimes When You Win You Lose” to the stark “Love Song,” featuring Slash. “He’s just one of the most awesome lovely human beings in the world,” says Ronson. “He’s so dope and humble and cool and open, and so not what you would expect from somebody who’s achieved so much. I asked him if he would write a song with me for the record, and he came down to the studio with me and he was just so easygoing.”
Mark Ronson, Samantha’s brother, produced the electric track “Skyscrapers,” a song she says has existed in several versions for almost a decade. Otherwise, the album is mainly the result of her collaboration with Messer, and Ronson says that bringing in other big-name guests wouldn’t have suited the project. “This isn’t that kind of record. It would be weird if there was someone on every track,” Ronson explains. “Slash just worked out. The reason I loved that song with us was I wanted to make it almost a duet. He’s so melodic with his guitar playing, it’s almost like having another vocalist.”
As for why Ronson initially released her album with such little fanfare , she explains, “I wanted to put it out and have people find it organically. I think I was also nervous, and it was easier to do it under the radar because there were no expectations.” Now, Ronson is excited to grow the audience for her new music. “I’m really, really proud of it, and I think it’s definitely a record that, if people get to hear it, hopefully they’ll like it.”