20 Questions With Samantha Ronson
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Samantha Ronson. She just released her first album Chasing the Reds – go pick it up here…trust me, you will love it!
A lot of people obviously think of you as a DJ. When did you first learn to play music and how?
I started Djing and playing guitar at the same time and the Djing was always kind of just to pay for the band, you know?
Were you young when you first started?
I grew up in a pretty musical household and I always played piano and bass and stuff like that when I was young but I didn’t start playing guitar until I was about 18.
I read that the album took 10 years to make. How does it feel to finally release it after all this time?
Well I mean, it’s not like Chinese Democracy… To be honest, it’s been the last like year and a half to two years of making this… I just took a huge break in between.
Speaking of Chinese Democracy, what was it like working with Slash?
Awesome. He’s just like one of the best people ever. He really is.
How did you meet? Do you guys hang out?
Well we were friends kind of… I met him at Lollapalooza. I DJ’ed in Perry Farrell’s tent and Slash was playing with Perry so I met him and then he asked for my information and I DJ’ed a party for his wife and we just stayed in contact. So when I was making the record I was just like, “Do you wanna write a song with me?” and he was so cool, he did it and he’s just a really lovely guy. I mean yeah, we’re friends I guess…it sounds so crazy…I’m friends with Slash! He’s really sweet, and cares about other people and not self-centered at all.
Do you and Mark ever pick on Charlotte for not doing music?
(laughs) We actually don’t…she’s so supportive and like the cheerleader of life for both of us so we appreciate it. And to be honest when I was a kid Charlotte was the one that would buy music and turn me on to shit. I never really bought music when I was young…I was like buying candy instead. What are some of the things that inspired you when you were writing the album?
Everything from something that’s going on in the news to friends, to heartbreak. I write a lot when I’m sad because… who the hell wants to write when they’re in a good mood? So there’s a lot of heartbreak, drinking, and the news.
You worked with your brother Mark on the song ‘Skyscrapers’…what was it like collaborating with him?
It was cool because we had started that song 100 years ago for my record for Rock-a-fella… And then we revisited it for Mark’s last record but never finished it. So when we first worked together it was just like Mark was just like in charge and I didn’t have much say, the second time because it was for his record I kind of just left it up to him, and then by the time we made it for my record…he kind of just left it up to me. We hadn’t written the hook for it yet so by the time it was for my record…he definitely was less of a dictator about us working together and it was far more collaborative. So he wasn’t like a pushy brother?
Well in the beginning he was you know all successful and in charge and I don’t know if he necessarily cared what I had to say. But by the end of it he was just like “We have to do a song for your record. You can’t put a record out without me working with you.” So it was way more collaborative and really awesome. It was nice to work with him and have him listen to my ideas and have him be able to walk away from it and trust me. It was really awesome.
I imagine you’re going to tour for the album, what’s your favorite part about touring?
I would never be the person that’s like “touring sucks!” It’s AWESOME to me. When I was a kid I would go on tour with my step-dad, and I went on tour with JC Chasez for a Rock-a-fella record we actually never put out. I love touring. You get to go and play for a bunch of people…your friends aren’t in the room. It’s so much harder to play for a room full of your friends because you’re like, “you guys know me WAY too well. You all know I want to get the hell off the stage.” Crowds don’t know that. They’re not aware of the fact that I want to crawl out of my skin…it’s easier to be somebody else, play, and have a good time. And I love all the guys in my band.
What’s your favorite city that you’ve played in?
Chicago… I really love Chicago a lot. What do you love about the city?
I like Chicago because it has everything that New York and LA have just without the attitude. It’s a pretty awesome city. What are you listening to right now?
I really like that new Fun. Record…it’s pretty great. I like that song “Up Up Up” by The Givers. Actually my new favorite song right now is the Elton John cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” And I also really like that Robyn Song “Call Your Girlfriend.”
Have you seen the video for that Robyn song?
No, I actually never watch videos…videos generally ruin songs for me.
Would you say that your personal style is influenced by the music you make?
Yeah I suppose so, it’s pretty eclectic.
What are your favorite brands at the moment?
I got some really cute super super fluorescent sweatshirts from Elizabeth and James, obviously Charlotte Ronson, and then on the more high end I get a lot of stuff from Dior Homme…It’s so cool and like not too crazy. And I love Rick Owens jackets..they’re the BEST.
What about style icons – anyone you think has the most perfect style?
I think Gwyneth Paltrow never really goes wrong. I’m not really someone who’s like, “I like what they’re wearing, I want to wear that!” I’ve had the same style since I was a kid…it’s pretty easy going. There’s just certain people that you see and you’re like, “Wow, you never really go wrong.” Chris Martin has great style too…because I like casual. They’re like the perfect fashion couple.
5 Things you can’t live without?
I cannot live without my dog, my car, a good pair of jeans, my vintage t-shirts, and a great leather jacket.
You have a lot of vintage music t-shirts. Is there one that you don’t have yet that you’re dying to get your hands on?
No, because sometimes it’s more about the shape and the cotton… But Beatles shirts are hard to come by. I like stuff that you don’t see a lot. Oldschool hip-hop shirts are hard to come by too but they never fit well. I would love a great Beastie Boys t-shirt…that would be cool.
Last meal on Earth: what would you eat?
Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Subway broccoli and cheese soup, and Matsuhisa…everything on their menu.