Late Night Feelings

Late Night Feelings

“Honesty, heartbreak, love, lust, elation: Those concepts are in a lot of music that I love, but it's just never been something I've attempted on my own records,” DJ-turned-superproducer Mark Ronson tells Apple Music about the genesis of his fifth album. “When I dip into other people's worlds—whether it's Queens of the Stone Age or Gaga, whoever—that's when I get to work on deep shit, but my own records should just be either record collector-y or for the dance floor.” But on the heels of a breakup, Ronson rallied a typically star-studded cast of collaborators, including Miley Cyrus, Lykke Li, and Alicia Keys, for sessions in New York and Los Angeles that plumbed personal topics previous albums would have danced right past. “It was the first time I couldn't really hide behind a concept,” he says. “It was like, 'No, no, you have to put yourself into the music this time.'” Here Ronson puts himself into telling the stories behind each track on Late Night Feelings. “Late Night Prelude” “Just for my own sanity, when I start off a record, it has to be a little bit of a statement—something that's a little grand and foreshadows the rest of the record. David Campbell, the string arranger, came up with this beautiful, slightly Barry White Love Unlimited Orchestra-inspired arrangement—a little slowed down and psychedelic. Then that kicks off right into...” “Late Night Feelings” (feat. Lykke Li) “This was the first song that we came up with that really felt like it was pointing the way for the record. I started working with this writer named Ilsey Juber, who I met through Diplo. She came up with the first verse, this melodic idea. Then, when we were thinking who should sing this, she was like, 'Well, Lykke would be perfect.' She was just wrapping up Lykke's album So Sad So Sexy. Actually, Lykke came up with that lyric; I loved it for the name of the album because, instead of calling it Club Heartbreak or some of the other things we were throwing around, late-night feelings can be anything really that keeps you up at night. It could be heartbreak, it could be lust, it could be love, it could be Brexit, it could be whatever.” “Find U Again” (feat. Camila Cabello) “Two years ago, when I was working with Kevin Parker and we were doing some DJ dates, we were messing around with some ideas, and he had this melodic idea and these chords. When we really didn't get to finish our stuff, because he was going back to Perth and starting the Tame Impala record, I asked him, 'Can I finish that song and use it for my record?' It's such a great, strong idea that I'm not gonna waste it until I really have the perfect person whose voice is just gonna cut through, and it's gonna be the right person to write the lyrics—Camila Cabello. She's such a huge pop star, I sometimes just think like, 'Oh, those people aren't gonna want to fuck with me.' Then I sent her the track and she loved it. She came in and she wrote it. I was just really in awe of how serious she takes the stuff, each take. A lot of pop music, people sing the chorus once and they just fly it over three times.” “Pieces of Us” “King Princess, she's on [Ronson's label Zelig] and she pretty much does everything. I jump in and give my two cents every now and then, but she's super self-contained. She has such a special thing that she does: music that's slightly moody, dreamy, ethereal, not always super aggressive with the drums and the tempo. I wanted to preserve that; it's probably the longest I've ever waited to bring in the drum and bass arrangement on a song. She kept bringing me songs 'cause she's very smart and prolific—she can write a good song in like seven minutes. I'd have to keep being like an annoying dad: 'It's not good enough, go back, bring me something else.' Everything on this record needed to tug at the heartstrings just a little bit, you know?” “Knock Knock Knock”/“Don't Leave Me Lonely”/“When U Went Away” “These are all YEBBA tunes. In the next two years when everyone discovers her stuff, it's gonna be insane. I loved the idea of giving YEBBA her own suite on the album: 'Don't Leave Me Lonely,' which is maybe the emotional core of the record, sandwiched between these two interludes. And it sort of tells a story: 'Knock Knock Knock' is the hookup song, a little flirty. Then 'Don't Leave Me Lonely' is this 'Don't leave me lonely tonight/'Cause I can't forget you'—it's almost like a Whitney/Tina Turner vibe. And then the third part, 'When You Went Away,' is kinda despondent-but-I'm-gonna-be-all-right. It's the entire relationship process: the hookup, the loneliness, and the healing in this three-song run.” “Truth” “Dodgr's part was this really great rap, but it was unconventional where it fell on the beat. Sometimes my super pop brain was like, 'Well, I don't know. Do we need more stuff? What's the verse?' Diana Gordon just came in and she was like, 'You guys are crazy. This sounds like a fucking movement. Don't worry about what's what, it just feels good.' She came up with the melody for part of the chorus, which was great. And then Alicia Keys helped us finish it.” “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” (feat. Miley Cyrus) “Miley was somebody I've wanted to work with for ages. And for maybe four years, I'd been sending ideas. Occasionally I would hear back, occasionally not. Ilsey had this little seed of this idea. I was like, 'The perfect person for this would really be Miley. I mean, she kind of writes me back 50 percent of the time, let's just try one Hail Mary.' Miley came in and wrote the rest of the song.” “True Blue” (feat. Angel Olsen) “Angel Olsen: Her last album, I probably played it to death. I actually heard it through the wall at this Pilates class that I went to, and I had to go next door and ask this dance instructor what that song was. Angel sent me this little voicemail, this melody. It was incredible. She was singing at an organ, I think in her house, and it sounded like it could've been a little aria or some kind of mermaid in the '30s. I just remember thinking, 'Goddamn, if she lets me put a drum beat behind this, this is gonna be like ABBA on quaaludes or something.' So she came in the studio and the first day I think she was probably looking at me like, 'Who is this guy, this pop dude, some pretender?' It kinda is a little bit like ABBA produced by Nick Lowe on quaaludes.” “Why Hide” “This was the last thing that we got on the record. Diana Gordon has been part of this whole creative process and is this kind of lovely person. Her voice has just got this wonderful, ethereal, bewitching thing to it—so broken and powerful at the same time. It's sort of Aaliyah, Massive Attack, some kind of thing in between those two, sort of downtempo.” “2 AM” “This is sort of the counterpoint to 'Late Night Feelings,' another song with Lykke that we wrote when we were in [Rick Rubin's Los Angeles studio] Shangri-La. 'I'm not your lover but we're making love/Why are you only calling me at 2 a.m.?' I don't usually put ballads on my records—I'm a DJ, who wants to hear a fucking ballad? But I wanna hear ballads on records. I never wanna hear if it's oppressively fun from start to end. It was good and felt like it belonged.” “Spinning” “There's certainly a lot of uptempo songs and stuff you can dance to, but heartbreak is really the prevailing theme, and I just thought it would be nice to have something that felt a tiny bit like the light at the end of the tunnel. Lykke sings on it—the end—and she brings back the refrain from the opening song. YEBBA heard it and she was kinda moved, and she was like, 'You gotta let me sing something on this,' so she does these beautiful choir-type harmonies like she did for Chance the Rapper. It's really nice that this last record goes out with Ilsey, Lykke, and YEBBA on it 'cause they're all such a big part of the record.”

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