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Guy Sigsworth on working with Madonna

How did you approach working with someone the stature of Madonna when you collaborated on What It Feels Like for a Girl?

“That song was quite an unusual situation. I sent Madonna a backing track, which already had the spoken word bit in and then she wrote a vocal to it. At the start of our meeting together she sang me her guide vocal, which I thought was great. There was just one thing, in that it worked perfectly against the chorus but it was a little odd against the verse.

“Madonna said she wanted the music adjusted to better fit her melody so I moved a bar to bring it in line with the verse and she said she thought was too simple. She wanted to use the sounds that were already there so there was no question of overdubbing things so what I did was to create the arrangement by basically just chopping up and re-positioning sounds that were already in the mix in different positions around her vocal to create the verse.

“That was a wonderful challenge because I stuck with what I’d brought on the demo, obviously Spike (*co-producer Mark ‘Spike’ Stent) made sure it sounded even better but we never went into opening up a load of new synths or samplers to find new sounds. It was just ‘where do we place the sounds we have to make the verse work?’ It was a problem but in a way it was brilliant in the way she imposed a restriction on it that made us be more creative.”

MusicRadar.com