Mark Ronson Rehearses at SST
With Miley Cyrus for SNL Appearance.
by Billy Perez, IIWII Recording Studio Manager
During the month of December, we had Miley Cyrus in the studio rehearsing for an SNL performance for her collaboration with Mark Ronson and Sean Lennon. They were here for a week, in and out, rehearsing a single that Mark produced with Miley called "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart". This was an SNL rehearsal but felt a lot different than the other SNL rehearsals we’ve been involved with in the past. It was very low key and was more about discovering the creative direction for the performance. Throughout the week Sean Lennon would join the band to rehearse a cover of Happy Xmas (War is Over) which they were recording at Electric Lady, and what would be the second song played on SNL that weekend.
Kyle Ronan, a production manager whom we’ve worked with many times both in the studio and on the road, called to book the rehearsal on behalf of Miley Cyrus. Kyle has used SST in the past while working with Selena Gomez and Noah Cyrus. He’s an excellent PM and never fails to impress. It was very interesting to watch as he wrangled all of the different creative ideas that were being thrown at him throughout the week regarding the look, sound, and general logistics of pulling off a great performance on SNL.
Mark Ronson was early for most days of rehearsal and commanded the arrangement and the details surrounding the performance. We’ve been lucky to have had Mark at the studio previously and it’s always very easy to see how deeply involved in the creative process he is as both a performer, producer, and writer. He’s also very down to earth and personable.
For this week we chose to tie into our connected control room to take advantage of the Focusrite Console as a mock-front of house desk considering there wasn’t a FOH desk brought in for this run. This gave engineer Paul Hager an opportunity to listen to the players, gather his thoughts on the overall sound of the performance, and playback some recordings for Mark so that he too could get a sonic picture of what was going on in the live room.
It’s always a moving experience to hear a performance by a group comprised of some really fantastic talent, but this group was sort of “supergroup” in the sense that you have Sean Lennon, Mark Ronson, Miley Cyrus, Andrew Wyatt (writing partner to Ronson, who also co-wrote Lady Gaga’s Shallow with Ronson earlier this year) all together for a really dynamic performance. It was a pleasure to see how the creative endeavor unfolded throughout the week, and to finally see it come together on the SNL stage was really a treat for us.