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EXCERPT FROM PROFESSIONAL DJ MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2002:
SPOTLIGHT ON: DJ SKRIBBLE
by Brock Armstrong
Don't miss next month's spotlight on MARK RONSON.
Now, this is a genuine article on MARK RONSON Some of this sound familiar? :giggle: I think Dave had to actually deal with this guy when in New York.
Mark Ronson is not merely a celebrity DJ. He also inspires the artists he spins.
BY REBECCA LOUIE
If most DJs heard as many requests for songs as Mark Ronson does for work, more than just their records would spin. In a typical month, Ronson receives more than 70 job offers from popular entertainers, fashion moguls and the cultural elite. He has played everything from the White House Correspondents Dinner to the Playboy Lounge and is the celebrity DJ of the moment, someone whose name on an invitation almost guarantees the right mix of cool.
"I'll do stuff that's strait-laced if I can balance it with a premiere or record release party," says Ronson, 25, sipping merlot in a Manhattan restaurant. Dressed in dark jeans and a Stevie Wonder T-shirt, his lanky frame and runway-disheveled hair give him the appearance of a disaffected preppy. "You don't want to look like you'll say yes to anybody. You can't totally sell out."
Before spinning records became an art form, the DJ was set up in the background, close to anonymity. Big names in the '80s earned about $50 a night. But their fortunes changed once shows for live bands died out and rap crossed over. The status of the DJ soared to the point where Ronson now is in heavy rotation on Page Six and in the major glossies.
The irony is that Ronson, who pulls $2,000 an hour, now finds himself just as famous as the celebrities who hire him. He's an ex-model for Tommy Hilfiger with a huge loft in fashionable Tribeca and a set of best friends from an A-list Rolodex. In 1998, Jennifer Lopez hired him for Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' 29th birthday bash.
The son of British socialite Ann Dexter Jones and stepson of Mick Jones (guitarist for Foreigner), Ronson grew up vacationing in the Hamptons and hanging out with Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen at his family's Central Park West home. As a teen, he was nerdy - "bookish musically" is how he puts it - the type of kid to memorize album liner notes and pore over Billboard. Party czar Peter Gatien gave him his first professional job, in high school, working the turntables at the sprawling Club USA. Attending Vassar and then NYU, Ronson became a regular at downtown hip-hop spots where bartenders broke up fights by smacking people in the head with fire extinguishers, and soon he was fielding offers for store openings and celebrity parties. "I'm not doing the super-hard-core parties, like The Tunnel, where there are shootings and stabbings," Ronson says. "I'm kind of in between. Everybody's pretty chill. Like, half the place smokes weed, but it's not Ecstasy- or drug-driven. That's the big, big clubs."
Later this night, he'll play Club Cheetah, one of his two weekly New York gigs (the other is Centro-Fly). Ronson likes to roll in about 10 minutes before going on, with three or four people behind him lugging big crates of 12-inch vinyls, usually around 400. "I'm a kitchen sink DJ," he says. "I bring everything so I'm sure."
An encyclopedic record collection and fast hands aren't the only things that place Ronson a cut above the rest. Unlike most DJs, who play one type of music, or blocks of favorites, Ronson keeps clubgoers guessing what he'll drop the needle on next. He's known as much for wowing crowds with his track twists as for packing the dance floor, and he can play to diverse audiences. It's not every turntablist who can make an inspired transition from Joan Jett & the Blackhearts to M.O.P. "Every DJ can have the same hit records; it's how you play them that counts," says pioneering club and radio personality Red Alert.
But Ronson says moving the crowd just isn't what it used to be. A surplus of "model chicks" has turned the parties into "these pseudo-fabulous things where people come for the scene more than the music." That's why on most nights last summer Ronson could be found in a production room at the Hit Factory, focusing on a career as a producer. He's now working on a comedy album with Saturday Night Live standout Jimmy Fallon. "This is my new acquisition," says Ronson, holding a vintage Baldwin Fun Machine. "It's like this '70s keyboard with all these cool old sounds. It gives me inspiration." He hits the samba button and plays a set of chords from Beck's Where It's At. Being in the studio has taken some getting used to, says Ronson. He misses the thrill of experimenting live, in front of a crowd.
It's almost as if Ronson hears what others miss, a common beat or agreeable lyric that links tracks from distinct eras. He showed just how clever he is at a party two years ago: In the middle of Jay-Z's Do It Again, Ronson inserted a snippet of the intro to Big Daddy Kane's classic Ain't No Half Steppin' - hot on the heels of Jay-Z's rhyme warning against the sort of thug gimmickry to which Kane had fallen victim. It lasted only seconds, but people are still talking about it - especially Jay-Z, who was in the audience. Months later, when they ran into each other at a gym, Jay-Z told Ronson he'd "bit" Ronson's mix and performed it at Summer Jam 2000. Jay-Z had stopped the record at exactly the same point and brought Kane onstage via a hydraulic lift.
"It was the coolest feeling," Ronson says, sounding like a boy whose project just won the science fair, "to know that in playing the records I love, I inspire the artists who recorded them."
New York writer Rebecca Louie spins the Cure on her portable Crayola record player.