Video of the acclaimed producer’s TED Talk, held in March, is made available online; offers insights into the art of sampling and its history, and includes surprising live mixing demonstrations.
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Have you ever heard Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick’s 1984 hit “La Di Da Di“? Even if you think you haven’t, it is very likely that you have at least heard parts of it, sampled of re-interpreted by others. The track is the fifth-most sampled tune in history, appearing in 547 known samples, says Mark Ronson in a charmingly-presented and remarkably fascinating TED Talk, titled “The Exhilarating Creativity of Remixing”.
Ronson’s TED Talk was held back in March, but the full video has just become available on TED’s YouTube channel two days ago. In his presentation, the famed DJ and producer follows the evolution of the song, which has been re-imagined for every generation since its release, with instances of it appearing on hits such as Inni Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper”, Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”, and most recently, “We Like to Party” by Miley Cyrus – who wasn’t even born when the original song was released, as he discusses how sampling changed music, enabling individuals such as himself to “bully our existences into a shared event”, as he puts it, “to hear something I love in a piece of media and co-opt it, insert myself in that narrative, alter it even”.
Prior to the introduction of the digital sampler in the 1980’s, Ronson recounts in the 17-minutes lighthearted video, the only way he could play homage to a favorite song – or in his words, “be in the history of that song for a minute” – was by covering it with fellow-schoolmates (as he tried doing with Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys” on a school talent show, getting booed off the stage). In the post-sampling era, though, he asserts, “when we add something really original, then we have a chance to be a part of the evolution of the music we love”.
Ronson, who created dozens of hits and won three Grammy awards for his work on Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”, starts and ends his “mind-blowingly original” presentation, as it is dubbed on TED’s website, with live sampling demonstrations, mashing-up 17 former TED talks and the TED Talk theme music to create new, TED-inspired tracks.
Watch the full video here :
Mark Ronson made a name for himself in the 1990’s as one of the most respected DJ’s of the New York club scene. He signed a record contract with Elektra Records in 2001 and released his debut album, the critically hailed and financially successful Here Comes the Fuzz in 2003. In 2004 he formed his own record label, Allido Records, under which he released his next two critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums – 2007’s Version and 2010’s Record Collection, both of which peaking at the no. 2 spot on the UK’s album charts.
In the last 13 years he has produced songs and albums for a vast and diverse variety of artists, including Amy Winehouse, Adele, Maroon 5, Kaiser Chiefs, Lily Allen, Foreigner, Bruno Mars, Quincy Jones, Robbie Williams, Duran Duran and Paul McCartney.
Ronson grew up in a Conservative Jewish family in London and New York, which he describes as “fairly religious”. In an interview with Jewish web magazine Guilt & Pleasure, Ronson credits his faith with teaching him the humility and work ethic that has made him a successful producer.