Interview: Bruno Mars on Why Now Is the Right Time for His First TV Special

We spoke with Bruno Mars about his upcoming TV special '24K Magic Live at the Apollo' that airs Nov. 29 on CBS.

Bruno Mars

Photography by Florent Déchard

Bruno Mars

On Wednesday (Nov. 29), Bruno Mars will toast to the success of his double platinum album 24K Magic (which garnered six nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards) and its tour by the same name with his very first TV special. Aptly titled 24K Magic Live at the Apollo, the hour-long primetime event is set to feature the world renowned act and his band the Hooligans powering through a catalog of hits at the iconic Harlem venue. If you didn't catch Mars on tour—and even if you did—this will be must-see TV of an artist securing his legacy in the pop world.

Complex hopped on the phone with Bruno Mars while he was out in Brazil, who shared why now was the right time for his own TV special and what fans can expect when they catch it tomorrow night (10 p.m. ET) on CBS.

I’m sure you’ve been approached about doing things like this in the past. What made you decide now is the right time for it?
That’s a good question. I have always wanted to play at the Apollo and I said before that I wanted this album to be a movie. I kept thinking in my head that I wanted to create some kind of dialogue with this album and then I got approached to do a special and thought maybe I can’t do a movie with it, but maybe this is what I’m supposed to do. So I’ll go ahead and finish the year off and maybe I can show my vision on the TV special.

Legendary acts have graced the Apollo stage in the past. Were there any specific artists that you watched to get an idea of how you wanted to approach your own performance?
Everybody who performed at the Apollo I’ve been watching. Before American Idol and X Factor and all these shows and singing competitions I remember growing up watching the Apollo, it’s pretty cutthroat. It’s either you got it and they will cheer you on or you will blow it and they gon' boo you off the stage. So I always live by that motto; make sure you got it.

It’s either you got it and they will cheer you on or you will blow it and they gon' boo you off the stage.

How did your father react when you told him you were doing this special? Obviously he has a connection to the Apollo being from New York. 
He was stoked, super excited. I think everyone is wondering why I didn’t just put cameras up at Madison Square Garden or one of my performances when it would be much easier for everybody if we just threw some cameras at one of these concerts, but I felt like I really wanted to do something different. I’ve been very blessed and lucky to be able to perform all over the world but I’ve never played at the Apollo, and growing up watching it that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And it’s something my father would always talk about, we would listen to James Brown's Live at the Apollo album, and I just never got to do it.

Your crew, the Hooligans, play an integral part in this show. Tell me about that growth you guys have had from the first album to this most recent tour and now the Apollo.
This album, the goal was to dance and thrive. Even with my first album Doo-Wops & Hooligans, we were dancing but we want to keep raising the bar. I wanted to get these guys sweating more and moving more, get the audience moving, changing the tempo up. It’s awesome and we all are extremely excited to be in that theater.

What would you say is one new thing your fans will learn about you from this special?
That’s the cool part about this special, it’s intertwined with us being able to walk around Harlem and meet the people and give out tickets. I think you are going to see a lot of myself and the band’s personality with this special; it’s not just us singing a handful of songs and that’s it. We really wanted to show another side and make it fun.

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