Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak have been waiting for years to unleash Silk Sonic on the world. And you can tell they’re in the mood to party now that their finger-snapping, slinky debut R&B jam “Leave the Door Open” is out.
Speaking to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe on Friday (March 5), the mimosa-sipping pals broke down the group’s origins, what it felt like to work together in-person and how they roped bass-slapping funk legend Bootsy Collins into the mix.
Mars said one of the songs on the album dates back to a phrase he came up with on tour in 2017, that quickly morphed into a hook that “snowballed” into seriously intense studio sessions. “It was like, ‘Well, want to come back tomorrow?'” Mars told Lowe. “And we kept coming up with music. It felt like why you fall in love with music in the first place. And jamming with your buddy… There’s no plan, just working out the parts and trying to excite each other… that’s why this wouldn’t happen if it didn’t make sense and it didn’t feel natural and organic. This was a series of events that led us to ‘Man, why don’t we just do it?'”
That initial idea turned into a friendship, which morphed into a realization that they loved a lot of the same music and then, hitting the studio. The pandemic, of course, threw a wrench into their plans, but instead of trying to make music long-distance, .Paak said they decided to get in the studio face-to-face.
“When you get in and you can jam with someone and other artists that could hold it down and you’re bouncing, that’s different,” AP said. “That’s the difference and you’re really creating a groove from scratch. You guys are trying to figure out what’s going to work. What’s the math behind this that’s going to get everybody feeling good? What is it? Is it too heavy? Is it not heavy enough? And especially with this song, it’s a song that requires so much patience and delicate…” Mars jumps in: “Delicatessen,” with .Paak adding, “Delicatessens. A lot of meat went into this song.”
Because both men are allergic to being regular, they knew they needed to get Parliament/Funkadelic thumper Collins — who Mars referred to as “the definition of a superstar” — into the mix. “There’s so many artists that you could see that grew up on him. And me and Andy being a couple of guys that just grew up loving that,” he said of the pair’s mutual admiration of Bootzilla. “And we thought it’d be incredible if we could dream up a dream set list and we, that was our model in the studio, ‘Alright, well, let’s create the set list of doom, who would be the ultimate host that could thread all these songs together?’ And thank God for Bootsy.”
As for Mars’ legendary perfectionist streak, .Paak said the last person he collabed who worked him to death so hard was his original mentor, Dr. Dre. “This dude doesn’t listen to music like regular people, you know, people get lost? And he can’t, he can’t,” .Paak said of Mars. “A lot of people do collabs these days, but I don’t think they understand what it’s like to go in and get work with someone that’s challenging everything. Like, ‘Did we do this right? Did we do this right? Should we try this right?’ You know for me, a lot of it is about having fun, but he was really the first person, the first period of bringing it to my attention that sometimes you got to go through hell to get heaven.”
Mars and .Paak see the project as the next evolution of their careers, even if the collaboration kind of just fell in their laps as a happy accident. And now that it’s done, the pair, who have a mutual love for ripping it up live, are anxious to get out there and perform the tracks for an audience, whenever that’s possible.
“We were in a situation right now for guys that grew up playing live. That’s another thing. That’s heartbreaking for it to be in the studio and trying to write songs, but the live element is gone,” said Mars about COVID-19 putting a crimp in any plans to do a joint tour. “While I’m writing songs, that’s a part of my whole thing. It goes to like, ‘I can’t wait till people hear this.’ And it’s also, ‘I can’t wait to play this for people. I can’t wait to be with my band.'”
But when things open up again, .Paak said they will definitely be ready to hit it, hard. “I’d love to present it,” he said. “And soon as the world gets to the point where it’s saying…,” with Mars adding, “We need it, man. We need it. I mean, if the terms are right. Yeah. The terms got to be locked, though.”
Check out Mars and .Paak talking Silk Sonic below.