MadonnaTribe meets Tony Shimkin
It’s time to celebrate Erotica, one of Madonna’s most original and controversial albums, with an exclusive chat with Tony Shimkin, co-producer and co-author of some of the album’s greatest songs.
Tony stops by at MadonnaTribe to take us on a behind the scene journey through tidbits, memories and an unrivaled first-hand report of the creation process of all-time masterpiece tracks such as Erotica, Bye Bye Baby, Deeper And Deeper, Bad Girl and Why’s It So Hard to name just a few, but also Vogue, Rescue Me, This Used To Be My Playground and the much talked about “Rain Tapes“.
Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Tony, that can be read in full by clicking HERE
MadonnaTribe: You are co-author with Shep Pettibone and Madonna of some of the album’s greatest tracks: Erotica, Bye Bye Baby, Deeper and Deeper, Bad Girl, Why’s It So Hard to name just a few.
Do you remember the process that gave birth to some of those songs?
Tony Shimkin: • Erotica was definitely a long evolution to the final two versions – those being the album and the more middle eastern inspired version entitled Erotic which was included in the SEX book.
• Bye Bye Baby was a lot of fun as the filtered vocal effect was applied during recording and played with while she was singing, that vocal is also the original first take demo vocal.
• On Deeper and Deeper during the mix I was fooling around on an acoustic guitar playing some spanish, flamenco style lead. Madonna heard me and wanted to add that part to the song we then added castanets and voila the latin style bridge to that song was born.
• We had just returned from vacations midway through the writing process, Shep had been to Jamaica and I had been scuba diving in the Caymans and we both returned with a heavy reggae inspiration, this is the reason for Why’s It So Hard. After Madonna had left one day, I played with an idea and added some background vocals. The next day I did not know she had arrived and was playing them back and she yelled from downstairs “What’s that.. I like it!”, embarrassed I told her is was me singing and she had me re-sing the parts in front of her. That was my major label debut as a singer. It was funny hearing my voice during the Girlie Show over the speakers at Madison Square Garden.
• Bad Girl was a departure from the rest of the record and a nice break in the writing process because it slowed us down and it was nice to get serious for a moment.
MadonnaTribe: The sound of Erotica seems very raw when you first listen to the songs. Was that a conscious decision?
Tony Shimkin: We used much of the demo vocals which were recorded with an SM-57 microphone, which is used more often for live performance, because it just had a great vibe and we liked the performance.
When we recorded to tape we used a 1/4″ 8 track reel to reel and the 2″ multitrack was recorded at 15 ips non dolby to get a warmer more vintage sound as opposed to digital which is what we usually worked with.
So the “raw sound” was deliberate and a result of wanting to use much of our demo performances.
MadonnaTribe: Which one of the songs on Erotica is your favourite and why?
Tony Shimkin: When the album was originally released I was told by Shep I had to choose only one song to put my name on as a writer, knowing what I know now I would have said no it’s all or start over on your own.
So with that I chose Deeper and Deeper because I knew it would be a hit. It’s hard to say now but I might choose Rain because I love the rise that comes with the portamento synth and how it takes you into the bridge and lifts you up, but then again the Video may have inspired that answer.
MadonnaTribe: Recently online there was talk about the so called Rain Tapes. From those it seems that the songs on Erotica had gone through many different stages. Where are these Rain Tapes coming from?
Tony Shimkin: I don’t know, It certainly wasn’t me, I believe only Shep, myself and Madonna have copies of early stages of the demos.
So your guess is as good as mine. I have been tempted by offers to release stuff like that but Madonna always treated me with respect and I would not do that without her consent.