Danger Mouse (musician)

Danger Mouse

Danger Mouse performing with Broken Bells in 2010
Background information
Birth name Brian Joseph Burton
Born (1977-07-29) July 29, 1977
Origin White Plains, New York, United States
Genres Hip hop, indie rock, space rock, alternative rock, alternative hip hop
Occupation(s) Music producer, musician
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards, organ, guitar, bass guitar, drums, percussion, synthesizer
Years active 1998–present
Labels Capitol, Parlophone
Associated acts Broken Bells, CeeLo Green, Danger Doom, Gnarls Barkley, James Mercer, MF DOOM, Sparklehorse, The Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gorillaz, ASAP Rocky, U2, Raury
Website dangermousesite.com

Brian Joseph Burton (born July 29, 1977),[1] better known by his stage name Danger Mouse, is an American musician, songwriter and producer. He came to prominence in 2004 when he released The Grey Album, which combined vocal performances from Jay-Z's The Black Album with instrumentals from The Beatles' The Beatles (aka the White Album).

He formed Gnarls Barkley with CeeLo Green and produced its albums St. Elsewhere and The Odd Couple. In 2009 he collaborated with James Mercer of the indie rock band The Shins to form the band Broken Bells. In addition, Burton worked with rapper MF Doom as Danger Doom and released the album The Mouse and the Mask.

As a producer Danger Mouse produced the second Gorillaz album, 2005's Demon Days, as well as Beck's 2008 record Modern Guilt and three albums with The Black Keys (Attack & Release, El Camino and Turn Blue). In 2016, Danger Mouse produced, performed on and co-wrote songs for the eleventh studio album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers titled The Getaway. Danger Mouse has also produced and co-written albums by Norah Jones (Little Broken Hearts), Electric Guest (Mondo), Portugal. The Man (Evil Friends), Adele (25), and ASAP Rocky's (At.Long.Last.ASAP (ALLA)). He has been nominated for 18 Grammy Awards and has won 5. He's been nominated in the Producer of the Year category five times, and won the award in 2011.

Danger Mouse was listed as one of Esquire magazine's 75 most influential people of the 21st century.

Early life

Brian Joseph Burton was born in White Plains, New York, to an African American father and a white mother. He spent much of his childhood in Spring Valley, New York. Burton also lived in Athens, Georgia for a while, where his trip hop work was released under the name "Pelican City".[2] He also remixed work by several local artists, including Neutral Milk Hotel[3] and DJ'd for University of Georgia radio station WUOG-FM. From 1998 to 2003, Burton also created a series of remix CDs and records under the stage name Danger Mouse. He performed in a mouse outfit because he was too shy to show his face, and took his name from the British cartoon series Danger Mouse.[4]

Music career

While in Athens, Burton took second place in a 1998 talent contest and was asked to open for a concert at the University of Georgia featuring OutKast and Goodie Mob. Afterwards, Burton approached CeeLo Green, a member of Goodie Mob, and gave him an instrumental demo tape. It would be several years before the pair made contact again, but the two would eventually collaborate as Gnarls Barkley.[5]


Burton moved to Britain for a couple of years, living in New Cross in London and working at the Rose[6] pub near London Bridge. While there, he sent a demo to Lex Records, which signed him. Burton then relocated to Los Angeles; his first original releases under the name Danger Mouse were his collaborations with rapper Jemini, including the album Ghetto Pop Life, released in 2003 on Lex Records. While the Danger Mouse debut was well received by critics, he did not rise to fame until he created The Grey Album, mixing a cappella versions of Jay-Z's The Black Album over beats crafted from samples of The Beatles' White Album. The remix album, originally created just for his friends, spread over the Internet and became very popular with both the general audience and critics, with Rolling Stone calling it the ultimate remix record[7] and Entertainment Weekly ranking it the best record of that year.[8] He discussed his feelings about any controversy the album may have created in the documentary Alternative Freedom. Danger Mouse was also named among the Men of the Year by GQ in 2004 and won a 2005 Wired Rave Award.[9]


The Grey Album also got the attention of Damon Albarn, who enlisted Danger Mouse to produce the Gorillaz' second studio album, Demon Days. Demon Days earned Burton a Grammy Award nomination for Producer of the Year.

Danger Mouse's next project was The Mouse and the Mask, a collaboration with MF DOOM (as DANGERDOOM) about and for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The two had previously collaborated on the Danger Mouse remix of Zero 7's "Somersault", on the Prince Po track "Social Distortion", and on Gorillaz' "November Has Come". A year later, DANGERDOOM released a follow-up EP called Occult Hymn. The 7-track EP featured new songs as well as remixes of tracks from The Mouse & The Mask and was released exclusively as a free download on Adult Swim's site.

In 2006, Danger Mouse and CeeLo (as Gnarls Barkley) released their first album, St. Elsewhere, which included the international hit single "Crazy". "Crazy" became the first UK number-one single based solely on downloads.[10] Gnarls Barkley set out on tour and was one of the main opening acts on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium World Tour. The Gnarls Barkley touring lineup also featured future Chili Peppers guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer. He also produced two tracks on The Rapture's 2006 album Pieces of the People We Love. In the autumn of 2006, Sparklehorse released his fourth album, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, a collaboration with Danger Mouse and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips. In August and September 2006, Danger Mouse collaborated with British graffiti artist Banksy to replace 500 copies of Paris Hilton's album Paris in English music stores with altered album artwork and a 40-minute instrumental song containing various statements she had made.[11]

Danger Mouse gave a rare interview to Charlie Rose on August 31, 2006.


Danger Mouse (left) and CeeLo performing as Gnarls Barkley in 2007

In January 2007, Danger Mouse produced another collaboration with Damon Albarn on The Good, the Bad and the Queen, along with Clash bassist Paul Simonon, former Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Afrobeat pioneer and Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen.

In March 2008, The Odd Couple, the second album of his and CeeLo's Gnarls Barkley project, was released. In May 2008, an album with Martina Topley-Bird, titled The Blue God, was released. Martina collaborated on "All Alone", one song on the Danger Mouse produced Gorillaz second LP, Demon Days. Also released in May 2008 was Replica Sun Machine, an album with the band The Shortwave Set, including a collaboration with Van Dyke Parks and the Velvet Underground's John Cale, according to British music magazine New Musical Express.

Upcoming releases include a follow-up to Ghetto Pop Life entitled Kill Your Heroes. KYH was scheduled to be released in summer of 2006, but its release has been pushed back to an undetermined date. A collaborative album with Black Thought of The Roots is said to be in the works.[12] He was also working on an album with The Black Keys and Ike Turner. Turner's death was expected to cancel the album, but The Black Keys and Danger Mouse released Attack & Release in April 2008. Some songs must have been recorded by Turner, however, as a posthumous Danger Mouse produced album has been mentioned, as well as another collaboration with MF Doom.[13]

Danger Mouse also produced Beck's album Modern Guilt, which was released in July 2008.[14] In April 2009, he and Helena Costas released an album as Joker's Daughter titled The Last Laugh. Danger Mouse was also listed as one of Esquire's 75 most influential people of the 21st century.

Since 2005, Danger Mouse (as a producer as well as an artist with Gnarls Barkley) has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards: Producer of the Year (2005, 2006 and 2008), Record of Year (2006), Album of Year (2006), Best Alternative Album (2006 and 2008), Best Urban Alternative Performance (2006), Best Short Form Music Video (2007 and 2008) and Best Pop Performance (2008). He won two Grammy Awards in 2006 for Best Alternative Album and Best Urban Alternative Performance.

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse were due to release an album in the summer of 2009 entitled Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul (together with a 100+ photo book with photographs by David Lynch).[15][15][16] Due to a dispute with EMI the album was not released officially until July 12, 2010 .[17] However, the BBC reported that Danger Mouse planned to release a full illustrated jewel case with a blank CD-R included in it.[15][16][18] The CD-R was to be labeled:

"For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will."[15][16][18]

On November 8, 2009, Paste magazine named Danger Mouse the "Best Producer of the Decade (2000–2009)."[19]

Together with James Mercer, Danger Mouse (billed by his real name, Brian Burton) formed Broken Bells. The project was first announced on September 29, 2009.[20] On December 21, 2009, the band informed fans in an e-mail message of the release of their debut single "The High Road", which was made available as a free download on their official site.[21] The self-titled debut album was released in the U.S. on March 9, 2010.

In 2010, Danger Mouse began producing U2's thirteenth studio album Songs of Innocence, released in 2014. U2's frontman, Bono, said in 2010, "We have about 12 songs with him. At the moment that looks like the album we will put out next because it's just happening so easily."[22] Ultimately, Danger Mouse was credited as co-producer on 7 of the album's 11 tracks, and sole producer on "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight" and "This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now". During this period, he also produced the band's single "Ordinary Love", released in 2013 as part of the soundtrack to Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, as well as their single "Invisible", which was released on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014.

In 2005, Danger Mouse began composing a "spaghetti western" album with composer Daniele Luppi. with Jack White and Norah Jones performing the main vocals on the album. Instrumentation was done mainly by musicians who played on the original Ennio Morricone scores. Danger Mouse does not play any instruments on the album. The style of the album reflects much of Danger Mouse's work since 2005, such as segments of Beck's "Modern Guilt", aspects of "Dark Night of the Soul", and songs like "Mongrel Heart" off of the self-titled Broken Bells album. The album was titled Rome and was released on May 16, 2011.[23]

On February 13, 2011, Danger Mouse won a Grammy for Best Producer for his work on the Black Keys' Brothers, Broken Bells' self-titled album, and the Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse album Dark Night of the Soul.

On November 1, 2011, Los Angeles-based indie band Electric Guest released their first single, "Troubleman/American Daydream", produced by Danger Mouse. Danger Mouse produced the band's whole debut album Mondo which was released on April 24, 2012.

On May 1, 2012, Norah Jones released her Danger Mouse-produced fifth studio album Little Broken Hearts (Blue Note/EMI).[24][25]

Danger Mouse co-wrote the song "Keep It for Your Own" by POP ETC, which is set to be released with the band's first album under their current name on June 12, 2012.[26]

Danger Mouse produced Portugal. The Man's seventh studio album, Evil Friends, released in June 2013.

Danger Mouse produced "At.Long.Last.ASAP", the 2015 album by rapper ASAP Rocky. [27]

In November 2015 Danger Mouse launched his own record label, 30th Century Records.

Danger Mouse was announced as the producer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers eleventh album and that he would replace Rick Rubin the producer of the band's previous six albums dating back to 1991. Production began in February 2015 however the band's bassist Flea was injured during a skiing trip so production was halted. Production on the album resumed in August 2015 and continued into early 2016. The Getaway was released in June 2016 with Danger Mouse also performing on and having co-writing credits on a few of the songs. [28][29]


In an interview for the New York Times magazine, Danger Mouse was compared to a film auteur, basing his music production philosophy on the cinematic philosophy of directors like Woody Allen. "Woody Allen was an auteur: he did his thing, and that particular thing was completely his own," he said. "That's what I decided to do with music. I want to create a director's role within music, which is what I tried to do on this album (St. Elsewhere)... I can create different kinds of musical worlds, but the artist needs the desire to go into that world... Musically, there is no one who has the career I want. That's why I have to use film directors as a model."[5]


Grammy Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2006 Danger Mouse Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Nominated
2007 "Crazy" Record of the Year Nominated
Best Urban/Alternative Performance Won
St. Elsewhere Album of the Year Nominated
Best Alternative Music Album Won
Danger Mouse Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Nominated
2009 "Going On" Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
The Odd Couple Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
Danger Mouse Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Nominated
2011 Broken Bells Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
Danger Mouse Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Won
2012 Danger Mouse Producer of the Year, Non-Classical Nominated
2013 "Lonely Boy" Record of the Year Nominated
Best Rock Song Won
El Camino Album of the Year Nominated
Best Rock Album Won
2015 "Fever" Best Rock Song Nominated
Turn Blue Best Rock Album Nominated


Danger Mouse albums

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Individual album tracks

Solo singles

Year Single Peak chart Album
2011 "Two Against One" (featuring Jack White) 20 33 Rome
"Black" (featuring Norah Jones)
"Two Against One" / "Problem Queen"[32]

As Pelican City




  1. "Happy Birthday Danger Mouse, MTV News". Newsroom.mtv.com. July 29, 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  2. "Pelican City Discography at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  3. "How's this for mash-up: Danger Mouse meets Cee-Lo". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
  4. "An American musician and producer, Brian Burton, created remix CDs under the stage name Danger Mouse, which he took from the television series." Associated Press, "Mark Hall, 75, 'Danger Mouse' cartoonist," New York Times, November 20, 2011.
  5. 1 2 Klosterman, Chuck (June 18, 2006). "The D.J. Auteur". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2006.
  6. "A game of cat and danger mouse". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  7. "DJ Makes Jay-Z Meet Beatles". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  8. "Records of the year". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on April 4, 2006. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  9. "The 2005 Wired Rave Awards". Wired. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  10. "Crazy song makes musical history". BBC News. April 2, 2006. Retrieved April 2, 2006.
  11. "Danger Mouse, Banksy Burn Paris". Spin. Retrieved September 8, 2006.
  12. "Danger Mouse – The man behind Gnarls Barkley" (Real audio stream). Lamacq Live on BBC Radio 1 . Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  13. "Danger Mouse + Beck = DangerBeck " Burnt Orange Juice". Burntorangejuice.com. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
  14. "Danger Mouse Producing New Beck Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 6, 2008.
  15. 1 2 3 4 "Dark Night of the Soul". Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  16. 1 2 3 "Exclusive First Listen: Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse Team Up With David Lynch". NPR. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  17. "Danger Mouse on Mark Linkous and Dark Night of the Soul". London: The Guardian. July 7, 2010.
  18. 1 2 "Danger Mouse to Release Blank CD". BBC. May 16, 2009. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  19. Burke, Chase. "The 10 Best Producers of the Decade (2000–2009) :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste". Pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
  20. Adams, Sean (September 29, 2008). "The Shins' James Mercer + Danger Mouse = Broken Bells! Greatest News of the Year". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  21. "Danger Mouse/Shins new band Broken Bells give away new song". NME. December 21, 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
  22. "U2's New Album 'Happening So Easily' with Danger Mouse at Helm, Says Bono". Spinner. October 22, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-09.
  23. "Danger Mouse's Jack White-starring 'Rome' album out in May | News". Nme.Com. February 10, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-09.
  24. "Norah Jones Sets May 1 Release Date". Fmqb.com. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
  25. "Come Away With Me: Norah Jones: Music", Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
  26. "Danger Mouse Co-Writes "Keep It for Your Own"". Twitter. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  27. "ASAP Rocky Announces Danger Mouse As Producer Of New Album". March 25, 2015.
  28. "Red Hot Chili Peppers Reveal Producer Of New Album". Alternative Nation. February 2, 2015.
  29. "Chad Smith on Twitter". Twitter.
  30. "Danger Mouse and James Mercer's Broken Bells announce new album 'After The Disco' | News". Nme.Com. October 8, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  31. "Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood". Fear Is A Man's Best Friend.
  32. Praxis Media. "Radio1 Rodos Greece ::: UK Forthcoming Singles ::: Charts, DJ Promos, Dance, Lyrics, Free Mp3 Samples Downloads". Radio1.gr. Retrieved 2011-05-09.

External links

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