Madonna gives an interview to Billboard about Rebel Heart release
Madonna gives a long interview to Billboard abour her brand new album Rebel Heart, and its lead single "Living For Love". She also talks about Diplo, Ghosttown, leaks, Alicia Keys and more... Excerpts :
Billboard: How are you doing?
Madonna: I’m good. I’m good, I haven’t slept in a week, but I’m good.
Billboard: I can only imagine the week that you’ve had so far.
Madonna: Yeah. It’s been a very intense couple of weeks.
Billboard: Are you OK right now? As OK as you can be considering what’s been happening?
Madonna: Yeah. I mean, you know, I’m not happy that unreleased demos are out there in the world for people to hear, listen, judge, etc. etc. Once that happened we went into overdrive. A) Trying to figure out where the leaks were coming from, and then B) Trying to combat that with putting out finished music that people could focus on versus demos that were never meant for anyone to hear. So, that led to no sleep.
Billboard: Did at any point you turn to someone and say “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” this shouldn’t be happening to me?
Madonna: No. I said, “Shit, this is the age that we’re living in.” It’s crazy. I mean, look at what’s going on with Sony Pictures. It’s just the age that we’re living in. It’s crazy times. The Internet is as constructive and helpful in bringing to people together as it is in doing dangerous things and hurting people. It’s a double-edged sword.
Billboard: Since you said that they were stolen, has it changed how you are operating your day-to-day business? Obviously, you’re trying to lock down more stuff, but I mean there’s only so much you can do, considering everything is so virtual. Has it changed your day-to-day business with recording the album and making music?[....]
Madonna: Well, we don’t put things up on servers anymore. Everything we work on, if we work on computers, we’re not on WiFi, we’re not on the Internet, we don’t work in a way where anybody can access the information. Hard drives of music are hand-carried to people. We don’t leave music laying around. We have photo shoots or video shoots, and everyone has to leave their phone at the door. I mean, unfortunately, it sucks, but that’s the way it is. That’s how leaks happen.
Billboard: There has to be a silver lining somewhere. And, there you go. So let’s talk about the music. Did you think about releasing these six songs as an EP, and then doing another EP later? Or did you want to make sure that all of the songs stayed together as the full Rebel Heart album — as a piece of work?
Madonna: Originally I wanted to put everything out together. I have an overabundance of songs, and actually, the reason I wanted to call the record Rebel Heart was because I felt like it explored two very distinct sides of my personality. The rebellious, renegade side of me, and the romantic side of me. In my mind, it was almost like I wanted to do a two-record set. So you get this chunk of songs, and that chunk of songs. That was my original goal. But then all the demos leaked and I can’t really go down that road anymore, so I put out (the six songs) first and then, I think a few more songs are going to come out during the time of the Grammys. Then the rest of the album will just come out together (in March), and they’ll just get my rebellious and romantic side all mixed in together.
Billboard: You mention the Grammy Awards… I’m already picturing you on the Grammy Awards performing “Living For Love” with various guests…
Billboard: …I’m picturing how that would be wonderful performed on the Grammy Awards, perhaps.
Madonna: Yes, that would be wonderful. That’s possibly something that’s gonna happen. (Laughs.)
Madonna: Yes. Possibly.
Billboard: I want to talk about the album’s first single, “Living For Love,” specifically. We had Diplo on the cover of Billboard a few months ago. He was saying that (the song) had 20 different incarnations. Was he exaggerating by saying 20, or is that true?
Madonna: Uhm… (long pause). Twenty might a little too high. But definitely more than 10. A lot of different versions. We knew we wanted to make a dance record. But you know, there’s so many different levels of dance music and even different categories of house music. So, it was really like, what’s the bass line gonna sound like? Is it gonna be really stripped down and sparse, or is it going to be loaded up? Is it gonna be Chicago house? Is it gonna be U.K. house? It’s like, all over the place. Is it gonna be a little bit of one vocal line? Is it gonna be a whole choir singing? So we were experimenting and trying out different things. They all sounded good, but at the end of the day, we wanted it to sound timeless, also. Not just something of the moment.
Billboard: I thought it Alicia Keys was singing on the song with you. But I was wrong, it’s not Alicia Keys.
Madonna: Oh no, Alicia Keys isn’t singing on it, she’s playing piano on it.
Billboard: Oh! Okay. Geez, good grief. It’s so hard to keep track.
Madonna: I know! (Laughs.) Alicia plays the piano, and then the female voice is Annie… there are versions of “Living For Love” that MNEK is singing on, and those will be coming out, but just not yet.
Billboard: It has that right balance of soul music meeting house music. It’s the right blend of the two, where you were able find the right balance, where it doesn’t sound jarring. It actually sounds like it’s meant to go together.
Madonna: It’s kind of like the old me and the new me all mixed in together.
Billboard: “Ghosttown.” It’s such a cool song. It’s so evocative. The lyrics are so beautiful. In my head, I’m picturing there’s a ghost town, it’s cold, there’s two souls, they’re the only people left. Was that a song that you wrote with Evan Bogart, Sean Douglas and Jason Evigan, or did it come to you already finished?…
Billboard: …How did that song come together?
Madonna: We all get into a room together. They start playing their chords and then we just start thinking about… When I write with people, we always try to come up with a theme. What do we want to write about? So this one is about the city after armageddon. The burnt out city, the crumbling buildings, the smoke that’s still lingering after the fire. You know what I mean? There’s only a few people left. How do we pick up the pieces and go on from here? Kind of dramatic. (Laughs.) But not entirely impossible at this stage of the game.
Billboard: Yeah, well, at the rate things are going, who knows?
Madonna: Exactly. One must be realistic and be prepared for anything.
Billboard: One must be realistic. Because you know in a few years, we could all just be in some burnt out ghost town together.
Madonna: Yes, exactly! And we’ll all be in our version of a “Ghosttown” or in a version of a “Ghosttown,” and at the end of the day, all we’re going to have left is each other. So that’s really what that song is about.
Billboard: You can see a music video already in your head.
Madonna: Yeah! For sure.
Billboard: It reminds me of when “Gang Bang” (on MDNA) came out. It was so cinematic…[...]
Billboard: You’ve worked with a lot of people on this record. We’ve been following you on Instagram all year. A zillion people.
There’s been a lot of cooks in the kitchen.
Billboard: A lot of your albums tend to be (produced and written) with a core group of people. Was that hard when you have so many people to keep a through line?
Madonna: Yes. Very hard. Very, very, very, very hard. It’s extremely challenging for me working with a lot of young DJs who never can stay in one city for more than five days. So we never got to finish things. And so then I’d start things with one group of people, and then I’d start something with somebody else, and then they’d have to leave town and the other person would come back. It’s a chaotic way to work. You get a lot of ideas, but there’s a lot of confusion. It was challenging to keep cohesion with the sound and the direction of the record with people coming and going in a revolving door of creativity. So, I was just the person standing there with a clipboard on in the headlights, going “Ok!” (Laughs.) A little bit like a school teacher.
Billboard: Diplo is super involved with the album, obviously. Is he sort of quasi-executive producing it?
Billboard: Is he involved on more than just the three songs (released so far)?
Madonna: We did more than three songs. I wouldn’t say he was an executive producer, but he has a very strong voice in the record. We collaborated on a lot of music. You know, he heard other songs and gave his input on what he liked and what he didn’t like, but I wouldn’t call him an executive producer.
Billboard: Then I won’t!
Madonna: He’s a badass DJ who has great ideas.
Billboard: Are you actually done writing and recording the album?
Madonna: Uhm… I am done writing. I’m almost done recording. Almost done. Got just few more little tweaks to do. But first I had to get those six songs out.
Tags : Billboard, Rebel Heart, Ghosttown, Living For Love
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