Among all the artists that have had the oppotunity to share their talents with the Queen of Pop and that MadonnaTribe had the priviledge to interview, no one has had such deep involvement into the creative process of some of the most amazing Madonna performances of the last ten years like Mr. Jamie King.

From their first collaboration on the set of "Human Nature" to "re-Invention", Jamie has directed, choreographed and conceptualized videos, tv performances, world tours, helping creating those strong images and unforgettable feelings with which Madonna keeps inspiring us each time.

So here we are, meeting Jamie King, who shared some of his time with M-Tribe for an exclusive interview, in which he tells us about his story, the best moments of his career, the behind the scenes, the creative processes and the different level of interpretations of many memorable perfomances. And of course about his relationship with the woman we all adore.


MadonnaTribe: Hi Jamie, welcome to MadonnaTribe. How did music and dance come into your life?

Jamie King: Music and dance have always been in my life. It started with dance because ever since I was a little kid I was always dancing around the house and it was something that was in my body.

I didn't really have a choice, that was the way I expressed myself. It had more to do with dance rather than speaking.

And then music came later because, you know when you dance you need something to dance to. So I became quite a huge fan of music, collecting music and knowing everything, all about music.

MT: One of the artists you worked with is Prince. What were the most useful things he taught you?

JK: Well, that's a very interesting story for me.
I was just talking about this the other day with a friend. It's just so interesting because when I was a kid I was a huge Prince fan, huge.
And it's just so interesting how life works because I ended up working with that man for three and a half years and it was so strange.

I was a dancer with Michael Jackson at the time and Prince kind of found me and said "You should not be dancing, you should be hanging out with me" and I was like "What?" and he said "You should be with me and you should be directing, choreographing and telling people what to do".


"I see something in you, you have vision".

And I remember that so clearly because I was like: "I do? Really? You think I have vision? but you're Prince!?!
You know what I mean".


So the next three and half years he took me under his wing and really taught me everything about the music business, everything about what I do now. He was my guide. He is really the person that got me to the place where I am now.

MT: When did you and Madonna first meet?

JK: Interestingly enough I was working for Prince, I was doing the American Music Awards. I was doing a tribute to Prince, a twelve minute tribute and she was sitting in the audience because she was gonna sing that year... that song with Babyface...

MT: "Take A Bow".

JK: Yes, "Take A Bow" with Babyface, she was dressed like chinese. So she was in the audience and I did this tribute and I came out as Prince for the first half. I played Prince for the first six minutes of the 12 minute tribute and he was himself in the last 6 minutes of it but he didn't want to play any of his old songs so I did them.
So I came out wearing his clothes.
I had bleached blond hair and Madonna was sitting right there and I remember seeing her in the audience.

Well a few days after the performance that got us a standing ovation, Madonna called and was like: "Jamie this is Madonna" and I was like: "What?" She said "I saw you in this performance I thought it was really good".

When Prince first came out, which was me really, she thought that he had really changed his style and she really liked it.
She said "I liked his hair bleach blond then I found out it was you, so I wanted to know who you are".


Then she went on to tell me she had this music video coming up. "Human Nature" was the name of the track and she wanted to work with me. And all this kind of stuff came from that.

: It is really nice and interesting to hear this as an evolving story...


JK: For me it was like another dream coming true I was a huge fan of Madonna also as a youngster and I loved everything that she stood for and everything she was about. I was blown away when she called me to discuss my bleach blond hair with me.
I though it was so cool. And she wanted to meet me.

MT: So how was your experience on the set of "Human Nature"?

JK: Well actually, nobody really knows this story, I just remembered it right now.

Actually when she first called me she wanted to work with me. She wanted me to choreograph the London... I think it was in London... some award show in London when she had a really long hair like Donatella Versace...

MT: Yes that was the "Bedtime Story"
performance at the Brits Awards in London.

JK: Yes, and she wanted me to be one of the guys, there were two boy dancers and you know what I said? I said I didn't think I was right for that job. Can you believe it?

MT: Wow!

JK: She wanted two guys. She wanted me and a guy named Sebastian. She wanted sort of twins.
And I said I don't think I look like Sebastian, I don't think that's right for me and I think I suggested Luca [Tommassini].
Those two guys look more alike you should use them.
I said do you want me to choreograph the song and she ended up not using me for the choreography for that or the performance and I was devastated.

But she called me later for "Human Nature" and then when she called me I went to meet with Alek Keshishian, who shot "Truth or Dare", and gave him all of my ideas for the video.

She liked all the ideas I talked her about so she said go meet with him and I gave him all my ideas.
But after the meeting I got a phone call from her saying "You know we're not going to do the video anymore" so I was devastated again.

MT: Aha!

: Ahaha, then like a month later she called me back and said "Jamie I really like your ideas so I now want you to meet with this other director, Jean Baptiste Mondino, and this time we're gonna do it."
So I said "ok" and that's when it kind of started.

I went to her house for the first time and I remember going up the elevator in this castle she was living in. I remember she smelled so good.

She always smells so fragrant and amazing and that was her in her living room, on the floor and we looked at old books by this famous illustrator, his name is Stanton, who inspired a lot of "Human Nature", the kind of visual and the kind of images that we used throughout that music video.

For me to see somebody who is so much like me in the way they collect visuals, they are inspired by magazines and different art books...
I was so into it because that's what I do.


So we sat down and we were able to throw out ideas and look at pictures and talk about costumes, right there we hit it off. And I left that meeting feeling really positive about what it was going to happen and not to mention she really let me have my freedom. She was like: "Just go for it Jamie, just go crazy" and I did.
She let me go crazy.


MT: So your relationship with Madonna really started as a meeting of ideas and talents. It's really cool.

JK: Yes.

MT: Then the next project you worked on with her was the "Don't Tell Me" video or was there something in between?

JK: Oh that's a good question (laughs). Yes it was the "Don't Tell Me" video.

MT: And it was Mondino again.

JK: Yes it was Mondino again, the relationship was cool, the three of us together again. It was such a nice sharing environment and it's really great when you can find that on a set. It's a beautiful collaboration that we three have and really he's like the master photographer.
We know that he's going to shoot everything we come up with beautifully.


We sit down and he really doesn't write a treatment so much. He may have an idea and Madonna and I really have lots of ideas and then I usually come up with a treatment style thing that Mondino ends up executing and Madonna agrees to it. It's just a really great collaboration.


MT: After that came the "Music" promotional tour, also known as the "Rock N Roll Circus". Did you have a feeling that you would go on directing the following world tour or that came up unexpectedly?

JK: Absolutely, first of all I was so excited when I was called in to work on this "Rock N Roll Circus", I was really happy but I was mostly excited because I knew, I felt, that she was gonna do a big tour and I really wanted to do that, I really wanted to direct her tour because I had so many ideas of how I wanted to see her presented.


I'm always obsessed with how I want Madonna to be presented next, it's my obsession (laughs). She's had so many incarnations so it's like a challenge to me what is the next thing I can show people through her.

: Has your role of director and your involvement in the creative process changed from the Drowned World to The re-Invention tour?

JK: It's just more involvement really.
From that first promotional tour which was just really fun, throwing concepts together and having a great time. Did you see that tour?

MT: Yes

JK: For me seeing Madonna back on stage again for that mini tour was so great.
She's just had a baby and it was so great to see her just having fun.

MT: Yes she was really fabulous.

JK: Oh man yes, it was so great and everyone was so happy and then when it came to "Drowned World Tour"... it was darker.

It was a darker phase in the relationship which is what I always like. I'm always really attracted to the dark side.
Her music for that moment was really kind of introspective and dark so that tour had to really reflect that phase.

And I thought it was really important that Madonna didn't sell out and that she didn't do the hits, just do the hits, but that she did really cover her new material because that was who she had evolved into and that was really who she was.


There was much discussion because there are managers involved and the record company.
People worry about the fact you have to do the hits. And what it's so great about Madonna is that she knows that she has to do what's right for her and doing that she makes a statement.


I feel that the "Drowned World Tour" was a statement of who she had evolved into and you had to had that dark version, a very introspective and heavy version of her, to be able to get to this next place which was the re-Invention tour.
Do you understand what I mean?

MT: Yes, perfectly. Actually in one of the next questions I wrote down about the "Drowned World Tour" I had used those same words "dark" and "introspective" to describe the show.

JK: But there was no forethought.
Litteraly when Madonna and I had the first meetings on the Drowned World Tour, I had a bunch of ideas, she had a bunch of ideas.
But when we started playing the music and getting into "Ray of Light" which was so trancey and so moody and there was also a song about suicide. And there was "Mer Girl" which is a song about death. It was really dark we just had no choice but to really explore that side.
And Madonna for so many years has been so... everything is about beauty, about beautiful art, great light, powerful, positive images. So it was interesting to see her kind of transformed into this sort of darker character. It was really intriguing.

Madonna was also obsessed at that moment with the whole Gheisha theme and that's also a very dark place to be. Although it's one of the most coveted positions to be, believe it or not. The thing that you are prostitute makes no sense. But with that comes a really dark side to it that carried into the tour.

MT: A lot of people had the feeling that the "re-Invention" show, unlike the "Drowned World Tour", was created with the fans in mind. How do you see that from your point of view?

JK: I think that Madonna first and foremost is always going to do what she feels is right for the time, for her.
She's an artist. Madonna is a true artist.
She has to be able to explore and become what she is at that moment. She was the "re-Invention Tour" at the time of the "re-Invention Tour". She was the "Drowned World Tour" at the time of that tour.

I don't think Madonna, although she loves and adores her fans, does ever anything for them specifically at a request, if you know what I mean. She's more about inspiring them and inspiring the world.
So with that you can't always do what you're told.
You have to be a leader not a follower. She has to do what she feels inside at that moment. Which I think is why she is greatly respected and hopefully the fans will follow along and learn that that's what you must do if you want to be a true artist.


MT: Yes, absolutely. And speaking of re-Invention how was the name "re-Invention Tour" chosen?

JK: Well that was Madonna's idea. She came up with that name because for years everyone has been always saying she re-invented herself. And in typical Madonna fashion she played on that and used it against... the users.

MT: You also had a big involvement in the concept of the re-Invention tour stage, we heard stories about how you once went to Madonna's house holding a box and saying this is my idea...

JK: Oh yeah, how do you know all that stuff my god (laughs).. wow...
Well Madonna calls me "Crazy", that's my nickname, because in the promotional tour I wanted her to stage dive so she was like "you're crazy", but she did it.


I wanted her to do a kiss on the Mtv awards, kiss Britney, kiss Christina, and she was like: What? I said it's a marriage and at the end of marriage you kiss...

MT: Of course, she was the groom.

JK: But I do show up to her house quite often with crazy materials and I had a Gucci shoe box from one of my assistants and I actually transformed that box into a stage.
I just had this idea of the stage and she had some ideas throughout last year that she had emailed me and I just put them together into that little shoe box.

I'm not a stage designer but each year, each time with Madonna, each incarnation I try to do more because I'm excited to do more and she always pushed me to do more as she always pushes herself to do more and so I designed the stage this last time as well as everything else that went along with it. A hugely consuming job, from setting the song order with Madonna to doing the costumes and all the sections and all the concept as well as designing the stage and constructing and designing and conceptualizing all of the the screen elements that you saw.

MT: Yes, the screens were huge, probably the biggest available at that time I think?

JK: We had them made, custom made, yeah. It was outrageous. And what we had done and what I chose to do has never been done. Actually, it's very technical, led screens are quite common, people use those but they are obtrusive, kind of blinding and bright, they can be so overpowering and with the size of those screens it would have been too much.


So what I did was to put a skin, like a movie theatre screen, over the leds and what it did was to diffuse led screens and made it look more like a projection rather than a vibrant led, which is very cool.

MT: Did you conceptualize or direct something that was seen on the screens?

JM: My friend Dago Gonzàlez is the video director, he's been with me on every tour, Christina Aguilera, Pink and so on. Madonna and I always have the ideas for the screens, Dago brings a lot to the place and shoots what we want. But I'm there because all the choreography and the visuals and the concepts are mine and the set is mine.
I know what it's gonna take to make the visuals look right. So I work with Dago very very closely, he might tell that I'm very irritating and I spend many many hours in the editing room, editing video with him when his people have gone fast asleep.

MT: Sounds great...


Continue to Part Two

Copyright 2005 MadonnaTribe
Jamie King photos by KPI permission granted solely for use on


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