Mirwais reveals a lot about Madonna and their collaborations
Mirwais has just released his new single, “2016 – My Generation,” which is absolutely cool.
To promote his new single, Mirwais has done a few interviews, especially with French and British press.
Of course, he also talked about Madonna. And we try to sum up everything he said about her and their collaboration though the decades.
I like to be provocative … I was an artist before Madonna. This is one of the secrets of our relationship. I was an artist before Madonna. This is one of the secrets of our relationship. I’m an artist too, and she knows it. I love Madonna but I wouldn’t say I’m a fan. I didn’t have a fan attitude.
Mirwais has also specified that they are not friends.
There’s a lot of fun between us. I remember I once had to quote Spinoza and Freud to have the last word on Whatsapp. I see her as a friend, but we don’t hang out together, we’d tear up each other’s face. We hardly call each other. She thinks I’m crazy so I’m allowed to say that I kind of see her as a slightly nuts sister. I couldn’t stand living around her, she’s a diva, but I support her 100% because she’s one of a kind.
“The way she speaks of our relationship in interviews always makes me laugh,” said Mirwais. “In Mojo, she was talking about me, and it felt like we are two lunatics in the studio pitting against each other, for two lines, or for a chorus.”
Madonna’s Music album
The first time that Mirwais collaborated with Madonna was for her album “Music.”
You know bullfighting? It works because the bull is so powerful that it has to be weakened. Look, I don’t compare Madonna to a bull, but she was so powerful at the time.
After signing his independent label Naive Records with Sony in the UK in 1999, Mirwais started looking for a US label to release his album “Production.” Impressed by the way Madonna’s Maverick label had treated the Prodigy in the USA, he asked his photographer friend Stéphane Sednaouï, who had made Madonna’s Fever video, to send the lead single “Disco Science” to Guy Oseary .
Mirwais said that Guy Oseary “loved it and passed it on” to Madonna. “When she heard it, she said, ‘This is what I want to do,’ so we gave it a try.”
I had a hit with Naive Song, from my Production album. There’s Auto-tune all along. Madonna wanted it, so I wrote Nobody’s Perfect for her. It was the first time a major star used the auto-tune on a song from start to finish.Mirwais
“I bet you won’t find a track entirely sung on auto-tune before Naive Song,” he said. “It was the first.”
And that’s what caught her attention, and so we did “Nobody’s Perfect,” the first track by a major star entirely sung on auto-tune, in 2000. Then we did James Bond [Die Another Day] on auto-tune… Then some other folk goes ‘I invented auto-tune in 2006’ [poking at Kanye West]. Wrong! Man, James Bond was in 2002!
Mirwais also confessed that first they “did some trials to see how things were working out between us because she tests a lot of producers before she makes up her mind.” And then he revealed that “with Air, for example, it didn’t work out.”
Unfortunately, their early sessions were hampered by a language barrier. “She always says I can’t speak English,” he laughs. “But she speaks with an American accent and very quickly. She is very impatient – everyone knows that.”
We are both extremists when it comes to music. She could die for a sound. She is very impatient, everything has to be quick in the studio, and it ends up paralyzing some producers…
It’s So Cool
Furthermore, Mirwais discussed about her song “It’s So Cool.”
Rumours were that the track was supposed to be on American Life, but according to him, that’s not the case.
Most people don’t now that, but there was this movie project, maybe with Luc Besson, covering different historical periods, from the 30s through the 80s. So we had to work on a few tracks from the 70s, and I wrote that song. For the record, her big hit Hung Up came from the same session with Stuart [Price]. But it felt more 80s!
“It’s So Cool” leaked online 10 years ago, and it’s still there. And he believes that it’s because of Warner “From when she left them, they don’t care about her back catalogue a lot, but they’ll end up paying attention to it. There are real nuggets, real good stuff. There are songs like this one, extraordinary.”
Then, he confesses that he hates the version of “It’s So Cool” that ended up being a bonus track of her “Celebration” greatest hits album.
I think it’s a failure. I approved it, but I didn’t think it would end up being such a mess.Mirwais
“I think it’s a failure (cackles),” he added. “That happened when you don’t have a vision… when you don’t see the potential, the core of what it is.”
In the beginning, they wanted “It’s So Cool” to be “Something very folk. The Kinks! Madonna has the perfect 70s voice, you know.”
When he was asked if Madonna was aware of what he figured for “It’s So Cool,” he replied “Of course! We made it together!”
Wait a minute, do you sincerely believe that she wouldn’t know? That woman is a living sensor! She’s like me, she’s more into the future than the past. But she started digging into it. Because like I said about The Retrofuture [his new album], I have a theory that for the first time in the history of art, the past looks better than the future. Honestly, what is the next thing in music? Auto-Tune all the way? It’s bullshit.Mirwais
Madonna’s American Life album
After Music, he collaborated with Madonna again on her fabulous album “American Life,” which, unfortunately, got off to a bad start with the lead single and title track, in which Madonna rapped.
We had a big debate about rap. We made a different version that is more integrated into the mix. But I like to be provocative, which is why I ultimately didn’t fight her.Mirwais
During the American Life session, the work on a track was going on forever, so she asked ‘How come it’s taking so long to be cool?’ I replied ‘Cause it’s very fast to be uncool’. She laughed.Mirwais
Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor album
He also discussed about being burned out from her “Confessions on a Dance Floor” album.
I was supposed to make a lot of the confessions, but I had to go. I worked on two tracks, but we should be doing about five or six. To be honest, if it had been today I wouldn’t have done it. I had to solve some problems.Mirwais
He added that he “left the recording of Confessions on a Dance Floor because she was being a pain in the neck.”
Madonna’s Madame X album
Mirwais also recounted how his collaboration with Madonna for her “Madame X” album started.
She called me. It was after Donald Trump was elected, and there were so many celebrities saying, ‘I’m leaving America [if he wins].’ And none of them left but her. That’s why I have to defend them. It’s cool to have the courage to share your beliefs.Mirwais
“Her last record, Madame X, gave me the impression that she was back in control,” said Mirwais.
We hadn’t seen each other in 12 years, she’s living in Portugal, she loves Cesaria Evora, so she asked me if I felt like composing in that direction. We experimented a little and then embarked on making the album, eventually opening it to club tracks.Mirwais
Mirwais is very protective and proud of Madonna for doing exactly what she wants.
She just loves what she does. Also with Madame X and work with [26-year-old Colombian singer] Maluma, people said, ‘She shouldn’t do that.’ She just doesn’t care. If the response wasn’t good, it was fine.Mirwais
Mirwais finished “2016 – My Generation” three years ago, but he paused the song when Madonna called him again to work on her “Madame X” album.
2016 – My Generation
Mirwais wrote “2016 – My Generation” after he heard a Trump interview, just before Trump became the US President in 2016. Trump refused to condemn “former KKK grand magician” David Duke. “Then, a few weeks ago, [Trump] was asked if he condemned white supremacists and he said he did not know. So he hasn’t changed. That’s why I wanted to publish it now.”
Mirwais will release her new album, “The Retrofuture,” in spring 2021.
Mirwais premiered his award-winning animated short “MY GENERATION” virtually via Amsterdam’s esteemed Festival ADE last week. And it is a piece of art.
A punchy, percussive single poised between hard techno and electronic disco, sprinkled with choirs and distorted, psychedelic synths “2016 – My Generation” is a dance floor-ready opus bearing Mirwais’ inimitable signature.
I’m not interested in streaming or watching videos. We aim for zero views or zero streams whenever possible. I want to change the way we publish records. It’s just a drop in the ocean, but it’s good to provoke.Mirwais