Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Mark Ronson: The producer with the musical Midas touch

Click to play
Mark Ronson's musical Midas touch
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Grammy award-winning producer Mark Ronson has worked with biggest names in music
  • 34-year-old from New York started as a hip-hop DJ before producing
  • Worked with Amy Winehouse, Kanye West, Duran Duran among others
  • Currently touring and fronting his own band, The Business Intl

Watch the full Revealed show with Mark Ronson on: Wed, Sept 15, 08.30, 16.30; Sat, Sept 18, 08.30, 17.00, 20.30; Sun Sept 19, 05.30, 17.30; Mon, Sept 20, 03.00 (All times GMT)

(CNN) -- Mark Ronson is one of the best connected men in the music industry.

The 34-year-old producer and DJ has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, producing Amy Winehouse's 2006 "Back to Black" album, reworking songs from seminal British bands The Smiths and Radiohead and working with Kanye West and Duran Duran among other musical luminaries.

Coming from a wealthy family in Manhattan, Ronson grew up with music and celebrity at the kitchen table before making his name as a DJ on the New York club scene in the early 1990s.

Moving our from behind the decks Ronson took to producing other artists and has picked up awards for his work in the studio including a Grammy for Best Producer in 2008.

Video: Mark Ronson ready to release new album
Video: Mark Ronson's vocal debut
Video: What's it like working with Duran Duran?

A rare thing for a producer, he's almost as well known as some of the big name musicians he works with, but Ronson's latest project sees him taking the stage with his new band The Business Intl.

For Ronson it's not such a radical departure from his previous work or how he sees himself.

"I think we live in an era certainly where it's not unusual to be many things, especially in music," he told CNN.

"Now I'm in a slightly more unique position of actually being an artist in the front of my own record and putting them out as well producing them, but it seems to all fit."

Described by his childhood friend Sean Lennon as "very driven... you wouldn't think he's so ambitious from meeting him because he's so relaxed," Ronson is taking his varied career and lifestyle in his stride.

CNN talked to him about his musical identity and being the man with the golden Rolodex.

CNN: Do you think of yourself as the master of collaborations?

Mark Ronson: I just think that because my own albums are more collaborative affairs...I've got this tag of master collaborator, but I don't think it's necessarily true. If this was a report card from school, it would say "Plays well with others." That's one of the things that helps and more importantly I grew up liking such a wide range of music that I love working in different genres. Not being stuck in one genre definitely widens the palette of the kind of people you can work with.

Gallery: In pictures: Mark Ronson's musical history

CNN: Are you affected by fame?

MR: I'm sort of lucky to live in New York where I live a pretty anonymous lifestyle anyway. I'm a bit more aware of it when I come [to London] and sometimes I think I'm almost naive to think it doesn't exist. I'd still like to think that I could just live the same life I did 3 years ago, going on the Tube, or going to see a band and walking around the front to watch and realizing that I'll probably just have to stand here and take pictures with people's camera phones, which is fun. I'm not mobbed, nobody really cares that much about my life and I just get to live it how I would otherwise.

CNN: Do you see yourself as responsible for making Amy Winehouse a star?

Amy Winehouse is more responsible for me being where I am than maybe the other way around.
--Mark Ronson, music producer
RELATED TOPICS

MR: I definitely didn't make Amy a star. I helped her find a great sound that really fitted well with what she wanted to do. In her songs there's a lot of heartache and remorse and regret and fire that was in a lot of music, jazz and soul of the '50s and '60s. And it was also that we gave it a modern twist... I added drums from hip-hop; I wanted to make a modern soul record that if RZA from Wu Tang heard he would've wanted to sample it. So if anything, I think Amy is more responsible for me being where I am than maybe the other way around.

Watch Mark Ronson talking about Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" Video

CNN: Are you a pragmatist or a pessimist?

MR: I'm a pragmatist. The first record I produced was for this artist Nikka Costa. It was on MTV, there was this hype about it and everyone thought it was going to be this big thing and it came out and it really didn't do anything. And I thought that was a really good lesson in a way because it lets you know that no matter how many people come out telling you it's going to be great, it could easily come out and do nothing.

CNN: You're thought of as the man with the golden Rolodex. Is that true?

MR: The only people I know really that are bold faced names who are considered "celebs" are musicians. It's not likely you open up my phone and see Kiera Knightly and Jude Law. These are just musicians that I work with and a few of them happen to be famous, so people go, "Oh, your famous friends!" They aren't really, they are just co-workers anyway.

CNN: Were contacts the key to your early success?

MR: It's just not even worth arguing with that because it's so far away from the truth. I can't run around refuting the fact that I came from a comfortable upbringing. But the fact that I had any help and connections getting into what I did is well, it's just not true.

One of my favorite "old skool" hip-hop records is "I Know You Got Soul" by Eric B. and Rakim, and it's got a classic line, "It's not where you're from, it's where you're at" which always applies in hip-hop. I was just a good DJ who got better because of an enthusiasm for music and playing out. Once people became aware of me outside that more insular hip-hop scene they were kind of like "Oh, how did he get here? Must be because of his parents." And they have to find something to say and that was one of the criticisms they chose.

Rosie Tomkins and Teo Kermeliotis contributed to this report.

 
Quick Job Search