Published Jun 25, 2019If "Uptown Funk" officially enabled British super-producer Mark Ronson to become a household name — "oh, that guy" status, at the very least — it's something that he's okay with moving on from.
Late Night Feelings, the title of his new album, is also the current sentiment he's emoting. His fifth studio LP finds Ronson all in his feelings, partly due to a melancholic mix of a divorce, a depression and a willingness to no longer be regarded as that producer who just makes party music.
"The only way to really challenge myself is to not try and recreate any commercial success," Ronson tells Exclaim! in a new interview. "It's just to try and make something exciting that I feel I haven't done before. Outside of creating a time machine that allows me and Bruno Mars to jump back to that time and the way we were at the point in our lives, there will never be another 'Uptown Funk.' That was just lightning in a bottle."
In his words, Late Night Feelings is comprised of "sad bangers" — 13 slow to midtempo songs designed to reflect on heartache and sadness.
Working with all women guest stars — Miley Cyrus, Camila Cabello, Alicia Keys, YEBBA, Angel Olsen, King Princess and more — and recorded in L.A., his "DJ breakup record" was all about bringing the talented names on board and then just standing back to let them create within that framework.
"Believe me, we were trying to make fun tunes in the studio," he notes, adding that the vibe would always somehow turn to those deeper emotions.
"I wasn't even aware right away that I was channelling my divorce, either — I just kind of had this overwhelming sense of melancholy that seemed to seep into this music. At the same time it was kind of exciting for me. It was like wait, what's up with these chords? And why are things sounding a little bit deeper and more meaningful than normal?"
A lot of it was also working with singer-songwriter Ilsey Juber, who was such a great sparring partner to write with, Ronson says. There are some songs where Ronson contributed to the lyrics, but for the most part the tracks were free to breathe.
"I wanted this album's parameters to allow everyone to get to convey some heartache. Everyone knows that that feeling is the best thing to channel through music. And everybody's life experiences are here on this record, so it all kind of came together. Once everyone knew that was the record we were making, everyone just channelled into that zone.
"These are extraordinarily talented people; I don't want to edit them or tell them what to do," he says.
Now that Late Night Feelings is out in the world, Ronson has been DJing at pop-up parties, dubbed 'Club Heartbreak,' to spread his newfound vibe around.
"It's not like I set out to make this record the 'honest' record — but in the wake of stuff that happened in my life, it kind of just happened that way. I think it's because I've conjured a bit of human emotion other than joy."
Late Night Feelings is out now courtesy of Sony Music Canada.