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Bring Your Jukebox Money: Mark Ronson Presents His Soundtrack For Watch The Sound

Updated: Sep 28



You're resting cosily at a pub in a picturesque English village: crackling fires, dusty hanging ivy - mingling with fairy lights - strung around low doorways, snow tapping the single leaded panes. It is your round. It is Quiz night. Who do you want on your team? How about the human jukebox, DJ, producer, composer and general Music Man Mark Ronson for 'guess the song from its intro' round? That should do nicely.

Right now, you can tap into his cavernous wealth of musical awareness by tuning in around the globe to the Apple + Original docuseries Watch The Sound. Pioneering technology - in the company of Mike D and Ad-Rock musing of sampling, Dave Grohl sharing drumming memories of youth, Sean Lennon's view on his dad and music evolvement and heaps more is contextualised and dissected by the artists involved. No longer was it a requirement to play an instrument to devise a tune.

Hosted by Ronson, accolades rack up to voluminous amounts: an Oscar, Golden Globe and seven Grammys, but this would never be flaunted by the courteous enthusiast, favouring the role of an intuitive backbone to his peers. Like a dancer choreographing steps in their mind when they hear rhythm, the instant that the play button is pressed, needle dropped, or string plucked, Mark scrutinises the sound that enters his ear: its makeup, its behaviours, its will.



He disclosed in the past that the press hollered to the young raver as he exited to see which celebs were partying in the club. For Watch The Sound, it is the astute fella's time to stand under the limelight, but still on the receiving end of other creators with his listening skills, where he feels at home. Unearthing never heard before narratives underpinning music formulation and how to extract the untapped brew in creators heads, deciphering of machinery combined with artistry is embraced.


It was not initially in the pipeline, but to sign off each programme, Mr Ronson tinkers with the techniques discussed to devise original songs, commencing with Show Me. The strummed intro of prettiness offers no clue that an autotuned call will surface. Voice modulation can be divisive, but our Daft Punks won millions over and, more recently, alien crime lords, The Voidz, using its liberation to the fullest.

DJ Premier lends his scratching to Wales', Why Would I Stop appreciating Kimiko Kasai's やりかけの人生 throughout. Sampling, why ever not? A chance to borrow a wicked section of someone's art, play around until your heart's content, add your flashes of brilliance: in this song, chimes, to create a rejuvenated piece. Reverberation originates for Mark with sweetheart Amy and her generously-echoed Tamborine for Back to Black. Track One Life ft. Diana Gordon & Jónsi could be visualised live in a crystallised cave or on a mountain peak, its transportive atmosphere or time travelling effect proud.



Electronic Dance Music parades side-by-side with synthesisers, striding with Roxy, Talking Heads, Everything Everything and Karaoke joints around the world, there's an open-ended list of devoted users. We fall in love; the possibilities are endless. Gary Numan and Paul McCartney are called upon for the shipyard drone of I Know The Time (Is Calling), proving music is never bound by what is expected. Sculpting a supplementary beat is plucked from drum machines, which French composer Victor Le Masne documents with finesse in his 2020 self-titled debut. As if taking a tiny Cassio keyboard in the 90s and pressing all the demo modes, King Princess' You'll Go Crazy aces a powdered explosion of colour. Recording studios shifted from hiring expensive meccas into modest bedrooms.

Distortion is bang on trend: replication of that warm, wobbly effect of vinyl being slowed or sped up, or the intentional slackening of a hissing tape cassette, so with the last slice of the six, Do You Do You Know with Santigold and Kathleen Hanna bows out with a warped bang rather than a ballad. There's a lotta complaints about 'modern music'; the regulars down the pub shake their heads, 'They don't make them like they used to', but the point is painted in Mark Ronson's explorations: technologic advancements hand us scope, hand us choice, hand us musical freedom.



Article by Beverley Knight

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