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Mirwais talks about Madonna and Madame X

In an exclusive interview that Mirwais gave to fellow fanzine News of Madonna, the Afghan-Italian producer and songwriter talks about Madonna and Madame X.

The first time that Madonna collaborated with Mirwais was for her Music album. According to Mirwais, they met in the autumn of 1999, because Madonna really liked his song Disco Science. “We talked over the phone several times and then, once we had agreed on some songs to try out together, we met up at Studio Sarm West in London.”

Mirwais explains that when they decided to work together again, they “agreed on the Portuguese and Latin influences that she wanted to explore and, then, gradually I suggested her some more experimental songs like Dark Ballet, which she liked straight away. Then, of course, we talked about topics like gun control in the US and then that turned into a song.”

I feel that with God Control, together we invented the concept of Disco Protest song 

Mirwais

Mirwais confesses that vocoder and autotune is only an aesthetic choice, and, even though haters claim that it is because she cannot sing, it has nothing to do with that. “Listen to Extreme Occident, her voice transcends naturally,” says Mirwais. “Nobody bothers Kanye West or Travis Scott about autotune because it’s their choice. Sometimes we talked about it, whether to use it or not, but she’s the one who decides. It’s her record.”

Madonna wanted to get away from the traditional pop format in both lyrics and in the form,” tells Mirwais. “Having asked me to work on some of her songs, obviously we were not going to do traditional Latino. Folklore or Latino pop is not exactly my thing.”

“I think that many people and critics are missing something essential in her way of exploring Latin/Portuguese music,” adds Mirwais. “They missed the global political thread that Madonna has all through the album. In Trump’s America, where the Latinos are insulted just about every day, and minorities are provoked all the time, the fact that one of the most important American superstars, who is white, chose as the lead single a duet in English and Spanish with a Columbian singer is a very strong political statement. It makes me think of Marlon Brando when he sent a Native Indian to refuse his Oscar in 1973, even though the context is not the same.”  

“That’s the reason why I defined Madame X a ‘global futuristic album’, to say that “perhaps it is the first record of its kind”. It’s not World Music, it’s music about intelligent integration: fitting in and sharing cultures, adding a political dimension. It’s certainly not about trying to use specific cultural influences, as some are trying to make us believe.” 

“Although the music is very modern, it is mostly Madonna’s attitude and her lyrics that are ahead of their time on this album,” adds Mirwais. “For sure, it was about time that lyrics and meaning were taken to the centre of the mainstream debate again.” 

“Strangely, she is not ethnically centred, which is not the case of most of the American pop artists,” explains Mirwais. “In American Life, which had only a little success and no-one really understood at that time, she clearly said she was living outside the American Dream. That didn’t mean she wasn’t American. On the contrary, she’s a true American! That was very intelligent.”

Of all the songs that they wrote and produced together over almost 20 years, Mirwais‘ favourite tracks are Don’t Tell Me, Nobody’s Perfect, American Life, Die Another Day and God Control.

I really like Don’t Tell Me for its inventiveness in electro-folk. Nobody’s Perfect for having brought autotuning to the masses, well before rap. American Life because it’s really sincere and I like that it has an unusual style. Die Another Day because it is a truly innovative piece as a James Bond theme song, and God Control because I feel that with it, together we invented the concept of Disco Protest song.

Mirwais

Even though there is some kind of cohesion between every song on Madame X, Mirwais says that Madonna did not ask him for his opinion about the songs in the album she wrote and produced with other artists.

Mirwais will be back with some new music this upcoming autumn. But, do not expect Madonna to be featured in it.

Click here to read the whole interview.