First came an in-studio performance of his smash single “That’s What I Like” (which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and remained in the Top 5 for 24 weeks) — a special syrupy rendition featuring Mars and his Hooligans sitting at a table and using it as a gentle drum of sorts.
Once at the desk, Mars expounded on his mission through music. For 20 minutes, Mars sat with Rose and discussed various topics ranging from “Versace on the Floor” being his “silky, love-making ballad,” his two Super Bowl performances, “Uptown Funk,” creating his America and more.
Check out Mars’ performance and some of his most interesting interview tidbits below.
On the source of his current era: “The source of it, well, a few of my heroes — I actually got to work with this year and some on this album. Babyface, I wrote a song with Babyface on this album called “Too Good To Say Goodbye.” He’s just one of my favorite songwriters of all-time. This year I got to work with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis — performed at The Grammys with them. Never worked with Teddy Riley, but hopefully one day that will happen. These guys have written songs that I say that were the soundtrack of my childhood. At the time, it was pop music. R&B-rooted songs were the No. 1 songs. Boyz II Men with the No. 1 song in the country. Mariah Carey, New Edition, this was what I grew up to. This is what we were dancing to at school functions, at a barbecue, it was Bobby Brown. So, that feeling, that emotion I wanted to capture, that’s what I was chasing. I’d think about those songs and it makes me feel like, ‘Man, it was fun to dance, it was cool to smile on the dance floor with a girl and flirt with a girl on the dance floor.’”
On his music’s impact amidst tough times in the world: “We’re creating the positive vibe and everyone’s dancing together — when I’m talking about people having fun together, this is what I want to see at my concerts every night. So in a way, it’s me customizing my world. It’s a little scary sometimes because every night I have the luxury of seeing people from all over the world. Seeing different nationalities under the sun, and I see it — look at this, we’re creating this energy all under one roof. We’re creating this positive vibe and everyone’s dancing and it feels like we’re all in love. It’s a great night. And then, you go to the hotel room and watch the news, and that’s not what’s happening. It’s very — it’s tricky because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m creating my world. I’m creating my America. I’m creating what I want to feel every day.”
On what is necessary in music to make people want to dance: “It’s my meter. I need to be able to genuinely get up and dance if that’s what I’m trying to do with that song. That’s what takes me so long to make it right. So many things go into tweaking the snare drum and making sure the bass drum is hitting the right way and that the hi-hat is in the right pocket and getting the right swing. I’m going back and forth nonstop with all of these songs. Some, I get lucky and it takes me a couple hours. Some, it takes me two years.”
On 24K Magic: “I think that was the song I wanted to kick the door down. It was the vision I had with this album. I saw us having fun on stage. I saw us draped in silk and gold and me and my friends going up on stage and having the best time. It was important that we had the content to do so.”
On “That’s What I Like”: “This whole album is based on a mood. I really wanted to focus on this album — musicians, we’re vessels. I want people to feel fabulous when they hear this album. Therefore, if I want people to feel fabulous, I gotta feel fabulous. I gotta be — on this song, I’m talking about eating shrimp scampi and lobster tails and drinking strawberry champagne.”
On the imagery behind “Versace on the Floor”: “You sure I can talk about that on TV? What’s the imagery? I was going into the studio wearing — you know sometimes you get into the habit of going into the studio, you start losing yourself, and you go in there and your hair is looking crazy. You don’t care. You’re wearing sweatpants. Sometimes, that affects the way you feel creatively. So I said, ‘Alright, for this song we’re coming into the studio and we’re coming in hot. You got to put the best stuff you have on, and we’re gonna have a challenge of who can be flyest when they come to the studio.’ So I actually wore Versace. That day, I put on this Versace brand new jacket I got, and it just made me feel like I was fancy. It made me feel like I wanted to have some silky Versace sex. The song that you hear today, that’s probably the 12th version.”
On competing against himself: “It’s that feeling. Like we talked about earlier. I think the most dangerous thing that could happen for a musician is to think that everything you write is good. That’s the most dangerous thing. To lose yourself in thinking, ‘Well, I know what I’m doing. Look how many songs I’ve written that have been successful.’ That’s when you lose it and you lose the secret sauce. To stay hungry and to want to top and reminding yourself of that feeling. For me, I always remind myself what it felt like to finish “When I Was Your Man” or “Locked Outta Heaven” or “Uptown Funk” and those feelings of, ‘Man, I did it. We did it.’”
On where he stands in the pop evolution: “I don’t know. My fear is to be put in some kind of box. I feel like that’s what I’ve struggled with my whole career before anyone ever heard any songs. That was always the problem is that nobody — it felt like nobody knew what to do with me. My point was to always say, ‘It’s not your job to know. I’m gonna do it because I don’t know what I’m gonna do and I want to be able the freedom to do whatever I want when it comes to music.’ If I want to pick up the guitar for one song, then you have to let me see that through. If I want to dance for one song, then you have to let me see that through. But I’ve got so many ideas in my head that I want to be able to execute that no one else in the world knows about so just believe that I’m gonna — let me do my thing. That’s always been the conversation, and I hope that it continues.”
You can watch Mars’ full appearance here.
— Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars) October 10, 2017