Return of the dancing queen
Today’s edition of the Daily Telegraph features an amazing preview of the interview Madonna had with leading UK gay lifestyle magazine “Attitude“.
“I’m not in the mood for a ballad,” says Madonna of her first album since 2003. “I can’t be bothered – I wanna dance!” Uptempo and bristling with energy, Confessions on a Dancefloor sees the singer, whose musical career began in the predominantly gay club scene of early ’80s New York, return to her roots.
In this extract from her interview with gay lifestyle magazine Attitude, she talks to Matthew Todd in the tiny home studio in London where the album was recorded. They talk initially about how she came to make the record with British producer Stuart Price, and the problems she had persuading Abba to allow her to sample their 1979 hit Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) for her new single
Madonna: I had to send my emissary to Stockholm with a letter and the record, begging them and imploring them and telling them how much I worship their music; telling them it was a homage to them, which is all true. And they had to think about it, Benny and Björn; they didn’t say yes right away. They never let anyone sample their music. They could have said no. Thank God they didn’t.”
People would be surprised to see you tucked away in the loft of a small flat in north-west London.
Oh, I love it here, it’s very magical. I’ll be very sad when Stuart leaves here. I’ve told him that he has to keep this place because so many great things have happened here. It feels historical to me. We’ve been to a thousand recording studios in New York, London, LA, everywhere, and you cannot get the same vocal sound anywhere as you get here.
Click on the Full Article link below to continue reading this amazing preview from The Telegraph
Thanks to luluthecat and CicconeUK
How did you come to work with him?
Well, first he was my musical director on the Drowned World tour . He was just the keyboard player, but he stepped up after I fired the first one. I’m very fond of him. I love his sensibility; I love his sense of humour. He has impeccable taste in music. He’s sort of all over the place musically, and I like that about him. He’s capable of doing lots of things. I never planned to make my whole record with him. It was just going to be a few tracks.
The track I Love New York begins with a chunk of lyrics from Love Song [her duet with Prince from 1989’s Like a Prayer album] and there are lots of references to your past records. It seems like this album’s almost like a retrospective of your whole career. Is that what you were aiming for?
No, I just feel like I can plagiarise myself whenever I feel like it. [Laughs] It’s all part of my past, and I’m dragging my past into the present and hopefully into the future.
Let’s talk about Live8. You did very well there, didn’t you?
I did. It was fun. Although I didn’t want to do the show. It was during the only holiday I had with my children. When Bob Geldof started writing me letters, I thought, “Oh no, I just finished recording, and I just finished my film”, and I promised my children I’d go to the countryside. They’d just finished school, and they were really mad at me. Bob was like [screeches], “Africa’s more important than your children!”
Yeah, he gets like that.
He’s really pushy, that guy. I said, “OK, let me think about it”, and the next thing, I read in the newspaper that I was doing it, and I hadn’t even answered him yet.
I don’t regret that I did it; it turned out to be an amazing thing. It’s just I don’t like to do half-arsed shows, and I didn’t have any time to rehearse. Everybody else in the show was on tour already, and they had their bands and were just stopping in to do a song. I had to think, “What am I gonna do?”
But it turned out good. I got all the paparazzi to clap their hands. That was my favourite moment. They were all at the front, and everyone in the park was clapping their hands except them. They were taking pictures and I looked down and said: “You too!”
I know one of the paparazzi, Richard Young, and I said, “Come on, Richard, do it!” and he dropped his camera and the rest of them did.
You broke your collarbone in a riding accident recently, but I’ve just noticed you haven’t got your sling. How are you?
Yeah, I took it off two days ago. My left arm is flapping around like a chicken wing, and I don’t have any strength right now.
I wasn’t even meant to be riding that horse. It wasn’t my horse. It was a gift for my birthday, and someone said try it. So I did, and I was literally on it for a minute and got thrown off. I want to get back on a horse, but my manager has said not until I’ve done all the promo stuff for the album.
I’m doing the video in the next couple of weeks, it’s very exciting. I want this to be all about dance.
How are you going to dance with your damaged collarbone?
Watch me. I’m going to invent some new dance move that doesn’t use the bad bits. I’m still a tough girl.
The new film I’m Going to Tell You a Secret [which premières on US MTV tomorrow] is very different from In Bed with Madonna.
How did it come about?
Michael Moore was very instrumental in helping me, even before I began filming. He actually offered to direct it, but he was editing Fahrenheit 9/11. He said, “Can’t you delay your tour and do it later?”, and I said no.
He said: “I’ll be there for you if you want to show me stuff, or want me to help out. But just remember one thing: you write the script in the editing room. Just shoot as much as you can.” And we did. We had 350 hours. The hardest thing is to edit.
The thing that seemed to make you cry was the part where you acknowledge that you didn’t have time to party with the dancers…
I always become very attached to everyone – not just the dancers and the band, but the tech guys who help me up on the stage – you look into their eyes every night. Anyways, I’m a big cry baby.
This film features Kabbalah quite heavily, which is probably the most controversial thing you’ve ever been involved with.
Yeah, yeah? Strange. People get very upset about the fact that I decided to study a spiritual belief system. It’s very strange. I may as well have announced that I’ve joined the Nazi party.
But isn’t it hard for people to understand you studying something that is all about brushing aside superficiality when you’re dealing in the most superficial medium there is – pop music, pop culture?
But it’s only superficial because the people who make the music don’t want to think deeper or have opinions, for the most part. And what I’ve tried to do is walk that thin line between making something entertaining and also making something that’s political and provocative that makes people question things.
But I still think people are going to be cynical because you’re seen as the queen of pop culture and you’re biting the hand that feeds you…
Yeah, but life is a paradox isn’t it? To tell people that, you know, the material world isn’t important is upsetting because we’ve all bought into this idea, and it seems like I’m criticising people.
All I’m saying is that it took me a very long time to grow up and realise how myopic my world was, and I’m just sharing my story. If you’re going make a documentary about yourself, you’ve got to tell the truth. I’m sharing my journey and people get something out of it, great; and if they don’t, then that’s fine, too.
People always have a problem with celebrities doing things for charity and so on. There’s a perception that celebrities do everything for publicity.
I don’t understand that. Listen, you know some people think I fell of my horse as a publicity stunt. If you’re a celebrity, everything you do is perceived as a way to get attention.
The press has reported that, if any of your friends don’t study Kabbalah then you freeze them out [she rolls her eyes]. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in the film, with Stuart Price taking the piss at your prayer meetings before the show.
He’s always taking the piss. I love Stuart because he always has the opposite point of view. He just pretends he doesn’t care. I love his responses when we were in the prayer circle and everyone’s being really earnest, and he’s smiling at the camera and hamming it up. I considered writing “Typical Brit” on the screen, when he says he doesn’t believe in God.
We don’t tend to, really.
In a way, it’s kind of good that you don’t. In America, it seems everyone’s a born-again Christian, and in Britain it seems like no one believes in God. I think people here think in a far more analytical way, and they often think religion or God or whatever, is just nonsense, which I think is a healthier attitude than just accepting things without asking questions.
Religion is seen as very uncool.
But that’s why it’s cool. It’s so cool to be uncool. It’s subversive to be spiritual! Yes! [Laughs]
It’s really nice to see that stuff in the film with your dad?
That he’s forgiven me? Yeah, for a while we did have a strained relationship. I love my dad – even though he did vote for George Bush.
Yeah. But here’s the irony of all ironies: he’s now really good friends with Michael Moore. They live near each other in northern Michigan, where my father has his vineyards, and several things happened. It was Michael’s birthday, and I wanted to send him a gift. I said: “Dad, would you drive over a case of your wine? Can you do that for me?” He put a whole basket together with pasta and sausage, and he and my stepmother went bearing gifts.
He called me later and casually said: “Oh, yeah, we stayed and had a cup of tea. He’s so nice; we really liked him.” I’m like, “You are kidding me, Dad!”
Michael’s just started a film festival this year in Michigan, and my dad’s involved with the community, and they ended up having the opening function in my father’s barn. Then, finally, every time I got a new cut of the film, I would send someone on a plane to show Michael. They’d stay at my dad’s house, and he went over to Michael’s house, and they all watched it together!
Now they’re all friends. I think there’s something beautiful about that. [Laughs] My dad knows he made Fahrenheit 9/11, and he was very opposed to it. I love the fact that they’re friends now.
I love the part where you mention being photographed naked in a gay porn cinema as something a father can be proud of…
Yes, I think he had a little bit of trouble with that.
Do you regret the Sex book now?
I struggle with it. I go back and forwards. There’s a part of me that thinks that, if I hadn’t done that, there would have been so much shit I wouldn’t have had to take. On the other hand, I don’t know – it sort of turned me into a renegade, albeit unwittingly. It certainly made me stronger.
You say in the film that you were “very careless with people’s feelings” in those days. That’s a bold admission.
It’s true. I was really shitty to my boyfriends in the past. I feel horrible for that and I’m not proud of it. I was careless to friends, not everyone, but, you know, sometimes. I went through a period of my life where I was just going forward. It’s not like I wasn’t capable of acts of generosity, but I was careless.
But you grow up – usually when you suffer. It isn’t until you feel pain that you feel the pain you caused other people. Hopefully, you then wake up and say, “That’s what it felt like.”
There’s the line from 1998 – “I had so many lovers who settled for the thrill of basking in my spotlight” – which seems to be you complaining about them, but really that must have been as much your fault…
Sure. I created it. It felt great to have some gorgeous man on my arm, idolising me. I created that for myself. I resented it but asked for it at the same time.
Aren’t you naughty?
[Laughs] Yes. I deserve a spanking!
The single ‘Hung Up‘ is released on Nov 7, the album ‘Confessions on a Dancefloor‘ on Nov 14.
The full version of this interview is in the November issue of ‘Attitude‘, out tomorrow.