Bruno Mars is notorious for avoiding interviews, but the “24K Magic” star sat down with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe to talk about his forthcoming album and his hit-filled journey.
Apparently, Bruno didn’t just set out to make a new LP. “With this album, I wanted to make a movie,” he said. “A real movie. I told myself, ‘We’re gonna have a screenplay and we’re gonna go to that.'”
“24K Magic” is the first glimpse of that imaginary film and that’s how Bruno planned it. “I said, if I can tell myself I’m shooting a movie and I need an opening to let everybody know what time it is, what’s that gonna sound and look like?” he explained. “It was ’24K Magic.’ That was gonna be the opening to the movie.”
So, will we actually get to see the movie? “I wanted to do it but I feel like I blew it,” he said. “I feel like it’s too late. It was only to trick myself in the studio.”
Although a movie might not be hitting theaters, Mars’ next album is dropping Nov. 18 and features a song he co-wrote with Babyface. See more about the LP and Bruno’s career in the interview and Q&A highlights below.
On “24K Magic”: “It’s what we want to bring to the table musically. You hear these ’90s influences on the whole album, really, but ’24K Magic’ is because of West Coast hip-hop: Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Suga Free. This is what we grew up on. Listening to them, it was at a time when it was okay to party, to be flashy, to get on the dance floor.”
On getting dropped from Motown: “The worst absolute moment was telling everybody I got dropped. Having to tell my family I got dropped. I’m broke, I’m in debt.”
On accolades: “I’m still struggling. I’m only battling myself. I only want to write the best songs I possibly can. All the statues or TIME Magazine, that shit is beautiful and made my parents and family proud. But, there’s a battle within that you always want…you have this fighter’s spirit. I still feel like I’m chasing to prove something to myself, that I have a better song in me.”
On Beyoncé: “Performing with Beyoncé, to get to see Beyoncé do what she does, she lets you know every time she gets on that stage, she’s not playing.”
On Chris Martin: “He videotaped us asking Beyoncé to come do the Super Bowl. He invited me to his studio in Malibu, he turned the camera on, and goes ‘Just stay right there.’ He starts singing this song to Beyoncé asking her to do it. If it wasn’t for him, that moment wouldn’t have happened. He’s an incredible dude for that and is the sweetest guy I know in the industry for sure.”
On “Grenade”: “I like the story behind ‘Grenade.’ The thing about that song is that it didn’t sound like the version you heard today. It was kind of like a ’60s…It was much happier. I remember we had a big showcase for the label and the label invited all of these booking agents like “SNL” and “David Letterman” to our show who’d never seen us perform before. They put a lot of pressure on this one show so we were rehearsing like crazy and we’re rehearsing ‘Grenade’ and it’s not working. It sounds terrible…So I told Brody, ‘Just get on piano and I’ll play the guitar and we’ll do it stripped down.’ I go up on stage and I say, ‘This is a song on the album and it’s called “Grenade.” No one’s ever heard it. Until this day, I’ve never felt anything like that. That was probably my career highlight, singing ‘Grenade’ for the first time in a room full of people…I’ve never felt that again.”
On working with Adele: “Adele is the truth. She comes in the studio diva’d out, exactly what you want, because she’s supposed to be. She knows exactly what she wants to do and exactly who she is and exactly what she wants to feel. It was old school. I’m on the piano and she’s on the couch. I’m trying to play something and I keep looking over to see if there’s anything that’s waking her senses. I play the first two chords on the chorus. ‘This is my last night with you.’ She’s like, ‘What’s that?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. What is it?’ She’s like, ‘Let’s keep going.’ We start hacking away and she starts singing and has such a powerful voice. It makes it so much more inspiring when you hear like, ‘That’s the voice we’re writing for right now.’ It turns into a competition, who could write the best melody, the best line, just going back and forth.”
On his top 3 favorite artists: “Michael, Prince, and James.”
On Prince: “I have one Prince story. It was at the EMAs, it was after the first Super Bowl. All of a sudden, you’re looking at the biggest celebrities in the world. You just feel everybody [make way]. Everyone just kind of tightens up. I’m looking to see what the hell is going on. Prince is floating by, levitating by. Everyone tightens up and he’s standing in front of us and it’s a commercial break. He’s about to announce the next act, I think. So he’s just looking around and he sees me and he goes, [puts one thumb up]. And inside, I’m screaming like a little girl, you know? And I’m hoping there’s not some supermodel behind me that he’s going like this [puts thumb up] to. I said, ‘Don’t look back. This is my story.’ He put his thumb up. I gave him the thumb up and that’s it. I’m golden.”