Madonna’s full interview for TÊTU Magazine translated
TÊTU Magazine is out today in France and features 2 new images from the Madame X photoshoot and also an exclusive interview. Thanks to our friend Bruno, @mymlvccollection on Instagram, we have the pleasure to share with you the interview translated from French to English.
Madonna talks about many details of the album including song descriptions and also how it feels to work with Mirwais after all these years.
‘Dark Ballet‘ and ‘Killers Who Are Paryting‘ are analyzed and some of the lyrics revealed; ‘I’ll be Israel if Israel is incarcerated / I’ll be Islam, if Islam is attacked’ she sings in the latter one. We also can assume ‘Beautiful Game‘ (the song performed at MET Gala in 2018) has been interpolated inside ‘Dark Ballet‘ as some of the lyrics revealed appear the same. She also mentions the song ‘Fuana‘ and ‘Ciao Bella‘ which will be bonus tracks on the special version of the record.
Here’s the full interview:
TÊTU: Madame X that we just listened is clearly your most political record since American Life. What is your state of mind concerning the world? Are you scared? Are you angry? Haven’t you had enough?
Madonna: A bit of all of this at the same time. I am scared. I am frightened by so many things that happen in the world. Just like you, as I am sure. But I am also optimistic. I have the impression that the future has never been that open. I hope that I succeeded in managing my rage and my anger to create a music full of joy. And I would like, with these new songs, to inspire people to act. Because this is what we have to do with our anger. We will not change the world with fury. I feel precisely each feeling that you mentioned. And in many ways, this new album is, indeed, a continuation of American Life.
TÊTU: On ‘Killers Who Are Partying’, you sing « I’ll be Israel if Israel is imprisoned / I’ll be Islam, if Islam is attacked ». What should we understand? That you want to join the minorities?
Madonna: What Mirwais and I try to say in this song is that we don’t see the world in a fragmented way, but as a unity. And I am part of it. I see myself as an aspect of the Universe’s soul. I don’t see the world through categories and labels. But society loves to categorize and separate people: the poors, the gays, the Africans… because it gives us a feeling of safety. What I say in this song is that I will embody each case in which people try to lock us in. I will be in the front line. I will take the punches, the fire. Because I am a citizen of the world and because my soul is connected to all humans souls. So I am responsible for everybody. If one person suffers, I suffer. To me, to song is an act and a declaration of solidarity.
TÊTU: Mirwais produced 6 songs on this album. How was the reunion?
Madonna: We never fell out of touch. It was great to work together again. ‘Killers Who Are Partying’ is the first song we created. It’s a political song but everything Mirwais and I do always becomes political because it’s his way of thinking. The guitar that we hear at the beginning of the song is a sample that I recorded during a fado session. The sound of this guitar is exactly what I wanted. I really felt inspired by the melancholy and the feeling of this music, by the sound of Cesaria Evora, the morna and Cape Verde. The authenticity of the music that I hear everywhere in Portugal has touched me. I wanted to appropriate this music and make it more modern. I asked to Mirwais: «What do you think you can do with this? Does it inspire you?». Of course, he really liked it.
TÊTU: In the song ‘Dark Ballet’, you say «Your world is full of pain». You are not a part of «our world»?
Madonna: I am not saying that your world is not mine anymore. I am just saying that this world where people are ruled and dominated by the illusion of fame and luck, ruled, dominated and slaved by social networks, ruled and dominated by oppressors who discriminate endlessly people.. this world, I refuse to be a part of it. This song, Dark Ballet, was inspired by Joan of Arc and her story. It’s like a junction point. Madame X and Joan of Arc come together. I speak her words and her language and I say: «I am not afraid to die for what I believe in.» And this is exactly what I feel.
TÊTU: A year ago, you commented on a post about the 20 years anniversary of Ray of Light on Guy Oseary’s Instagram: “Do you remember when I could record with producers from the beginning to the end and I could be a visionary?». Have you been allowed, this time, to be a visionary?
Madonna: I think you are taking things out of their context (her publicist steps in and says «It’s not clear. Do you have another question?», but Madonna goes on.) I don’t remember exactly what I wrote at this time. But I was not critisizing Guy Oseary. Nobody ever forbid me anything. Yes, people criticize me but nobody ever forbid me to be a visionary. But people often warn me and say «be careful» (she moves her finger from the top to the bottom like we would do with a child).
TÊTU: Do you think this album will shake the music industry?
Madonna: I wouldn’t use this word to describe my music. Provocative, conflicting, emotional, passionated: here’s the words I would use. And «Inspiring» also I hope.
TÊTU: In ‘I Rise’, we can hear a sample of Emma Gonzales’ speech, one of the survivors of the Parkland school’s shooting who became an icon of the fight against guns. Do you feel that you inspired this generation?
Madonna: I hope so. That’s what I am looking for. I see Emma as a spokeswoman and pioneer of her generation. I just keep doing what I have always done. I fight for women’s right and all humans in general. I fight for equality.
TÊTU: In Medellin, the first single of the album, you seem to remember your debut when you were 17. What do you think of your career?
Madonna: I think I’ve taken a lot of shit! (she laughs). That’s true. I have the impression that I broke many boundaries for the women who came after me. But I know that our fight is far from being over. And to be honest, I have the impression that I still fight for the same things today.
TÊTU: ‘Like A Prayer’ was released 30 years ago and caused controversy. Are you trying to reproduce this controversy today?
Madonna: Honestly, when I wrote ‘Like A Prayer’, I didn’t know that the song would cause such controversy. It’s the video that shocked people: the fact that I kiss a black saint, that I dance in front of burning crosses…people saw that as a sacrilege. But I didn’t think for one second that this would be seen like this. All of this was very controversial but it was not my first intention. However, this time, I entend to be subversive!
TÊTU: Provocation has always been a way for you to catch people’s attention on important matters like LGBT+ rights, racism, women… But today, do you think conservatives are using provocation as their way to spread their message?
Madonna: Give me examples!
TÊTU: People like Trump or Marine Le Pen…
Madonna: If you are a narrow minded person and you want to use provocation, then it will be your message. Everything depends on the provocateur’s intention. (Laughs). I am not a narrow minded person. I am not provocative in order to pull down people and erect boundaries or to tell them «stay where you are». I am at the opposite off that. To destroy with provocation is not my intention.
TÊTU: Do you feel connected to your LGBT+ fans? Do you claim the status of the gay icon?
Madonna: I think it is weird to say that I am an icon. I am lucky to have a voice and to be able to use it to fight for the rights of those who are less heard. I think the word «Icon» is a word that people can give me but I can’t claim it for myself. Do you think I am an icon?
TÊTU: You are the definition of the word
Madonna: If Têtu thinks I am an icon, then I am an icon!
TÊTU: Is this album a tribute to your life in Portugal?
Madonna: You heard it. Do you feel that it payed tribute to Portugal and to Fado? Not only fado. There are a lot of influences that I took since I live there. But obviously this is where the album was born. Even if there are other influences, this album is the expression of the time I spent in Portugal. I have a house there and I go there very often. My son is playing football in the Benefica club. But you know, I live on airplanes. The sky is my home. (Laughs). I hope my Portuguese is good. I had a good coach, Dino D’Santiago. He helped me a lot and introduced me to amazing musicians. He was essential for the creation of this record.
TÊTU: We don’t know well Dino D’Santiago, could you tell us more your collaboration with him?
Madonna: He was kind of an interface. He is from Cape Verde and most of the musicians from Cape Verde I worked with don’t speak English. He was with me in the studio when we were recording and was telling them what I wanted. He helped me musically to give life to these songs because I had no other way to communicate with them. Well.. in a way I did with the music. We wrote a song called Fuana that will be a bonus track. I have another song called Ciao Bella which is not on the deluxe version of the album. The singer Kimi Djabaté who comes from Guinée-Bisdseau sings on this track. Once again, it’s Dino who introduced me to him. When he came to record for this album, he didn’t speak English at all. Only créole. Dino was the translator and really helped me. When I recorded Killers Who Are Partying and Extreme Occident which are influenced by the morna, I sent them to him to have his feedbacks. I wanted to know if he was feeling the authenticity fo these songs. His approval was very important to me.
TÊTU: How do you choose the people you collaborate with, like Maluma for example?
Madonna: It happens in a very organic way. All my collaborations are decided when I meet the people. We share a glass of champagne, we get along and we talk about the things we could do together. To tell you the truth, there is nothing really deep in that. It’s very instinctive. I am a fan of each person I collaborated with.
TÊTU: You worked a lot with French people: Jean-Paul Gaultier, JR, Martin Solveig, Mirwais…what’s connecting you to them?
Madonna: Yes! What’s this connection with French people? It’s like I can’t get rid of them (laughs). They are the authors of my biggest collaborations. Mondino, Gaultier, Mirwais…I think I love them because the are very… Têtu (means stubborn). They stand up to me. The people you mentioned are very intellectual people, extremely creative, very cultivated. We share a beautiful synergy. (She knocks her glass on the table and scream « Aqua por favor! ». Everybody jump and she points her finger to a photograph and screams « who let the paparazzi in!? Who are you? Do I know you? ». The photographer stops, frightened. « It’s Ricardo, Madonna’s official photographer » says the publicist. Everybody laughs.)
TÊTU: On the album, you sing in Portuguese and in Spanish. Is it a way to challenge the hegemony of English in the pop culture?
Madonna: That’s exactly what it is! I like the idea of worldwide music. I hate compartments. We don’t want to do it with people, why should we do it with music? I like to turn on to the radio in New York and listen to people sing in Spanish, take my car in Lisbon and listen to reggaeton or dancehall. It’s great. To use other languages was a challenge but you might have noticed that I like challenges.