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Madonna Interview : Billboard

Madonna - Billboard Magazine / December 21 2014

It’s a rather large understatement to say that it’s been a crazy couple of weeks for Madonna.

On Tuesday night, more than 10 of the singer’s unreleased demo recordings turned up on the Internet, causing the singer and her team to go into “overdrive” to combat the stolen leaks. (“I haven’t slept in a week,” she says.) The songs were from the sessions for her forthcoming 13th studio album, which at the time, had not been announced (and is still not finished).

To counter the leak, Madonna accelerated the release of new music: On Friday night (Dec. 19), she announced that her album, Rebel Heart, would be released on March 10, 2015 through Interscope Records, and six of its tracks would become immediately available to purchase. Among those tracks are the set’s lead single, the Diplo-produced soul-meets-house jam “Living For Love.” How far ahead of schedule was the release? The single wasn’t supposed to premiere until Feb. 14, 2015.

The album — which features a collaboration with Nicki Minaj — is also available to pre-order, and has topped the iTunes Store’s top albums tally in more than 40 countries, including the United States. She also dominated the real time Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 chart on Saturday night (Dec. 20), where two of the album’s songs (“Living For Love” and “Bitch, I’m Madonna”) were concurrently in the top three.

Billboard spoke to Madonna on Sunday morning via phone, to talk about her new album, its “chaotic” recording process, and how her day-to-day business has changed because of the leaks. She also discusses her fondness of Diplo (he’s a “badass”), a possible Grammy Awards performance, and how no one has ever called her an “Unapologetic Bitch.”

Billboard: How are you doing?

Madonna: I’m good. I’m good, I haven’t slept in a week, but I’m good.

I can only imagine the week that you’ve had so far.

Yeah. It’s been a very intense couple of weeks.

Are you OK right now? As OK as you can be considering what’s been happening?

Yeah. I mean, you know, I’m not happy that unreleased demos are out there in the world for people to hear, listen, judge, etcetera, etcetera. Once that happened we went into overdrive. A) Trying to figure out where the leaks were coming from, and then B) Trying to combat that with putting out finished music that people could focus on versus demos that were never meant for anyone to hear. So, that led to no sleep.

Did at any point you turn to someone and say “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” this shouldn’t be happening to me?

No. I said, “Shit, this is the age that we’re living in.” It’s crazy. I mean, look at what’s going on with Sony Pictures. It’s just the age that we’re living in. It’s crazy times. The Internet is as constructive and helpful in bringing to people together as it is in doing dangerous things and hurting people. It’s a double-edged sword.

Since you said that they were stolen, has it changed how you are operating your day-to-day business? Obviously, you’re trying to lock down more stuff, but I mean there’s only so much you can do, considering everything is so virtual. Has it changed your day-to-day business with recording the album and making music?

Well, we don’t put things up on servers anymore. Everything we work on, if we work on computers, we’re not on WiFi, we’re not on the Internet, we don’t work in a way where anybody can access the information. Hard drives of music are hand-carried to people. We don’t leave music laying around. We have photo shoots or video shoots, and everyone has to leave their phone at the door. I mean, unfortunately, it sucks, but that’s the way it is. That’s how leaks happen.

It’s so sucky.

It is! Because I want to go to photo shoots and play my music really loud and dance to it, and celebrate it, and I can’t.