EDGE: And this time you just let it rip with multiple producers. How was it different approaching it this way?
MADONNA: I didn’t mean to work with so many different producers. First of all, I didn’t know that Avicii was going to have a life-threatening illness and disappear. So a lot of the songs that I wrote with him or his songwriting team, I ended up having to go out and find other producers to work on them, to finish the songs with me.
And then Diplo came along and I very much wanted to work with him, and he also wanted to work with me, but I didn’t know that he also was working with 5,000 other people and had to get on a jet and go to the other side of the world to play festivals and then go here and play that and then go here and do that — just getting him to sit still for a couple of days to finish a song was a challenge.
So I ended up working with a lot of young DJs and I naively didn’t think it through. Oh, it’s summertime — it’s the festivals, and they’re on tour, and I’ll be lucky if I get them for three days, so a lot of that had to factor in. OK, I can’t wait for three months for this dude to come back. I have to find somebody else.
EDGE: Was it ultimately satisfying? Or you wouldn’t do it that way again?
MADONNA: Ultimately satisfying…? [Long Pause] If I had my way and I could do it again, I would make people sign an iron-clad agreement that they would stay and ensure they would not leave me until all the songs were finished.
ROUNDTABLE # 2: You were forced to change album release schedule because of the leaks that happened last year. The next time you go to create a new album or film, is your practice going to change because of the way these new tracks [were leaked]?
MADONNA: Well, I’m never going to put anything on a server and send information back and forth as had been done. That was the first mistake. That’s when we first realized that the music was being hacked on the server. But then the last leak came from a mastering lab and that was just a technician’s oversight. After everything had happened and everyone knew we had to crack down and be really super secure, someone sent the record on the server – AGAIN! My hacker’s very clever, obviously. It was not up for very long, but it was snatched. So I would never do anything like that again. Hand delivery.
ROUNDTABLE # 3: Did it change anything about the way the album was — like how the tracks were sequenced?
MADONNA: It changed EVERYTHING. First of all, it drove me insane and made me feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety, and it made me second-guess everything, because suddenly I thought, “Oh God, everyone’s heard all these demos” — because there were some demos that I actually liked the demo version of and I thought, well, they’ve heard the demo and now they’re going to be expecting other things. Then they heard the next level of versions and it kept making me think, “Should I change it or should I just leave it how it was?” I was second-guessing everything, rather than just choosing for myself and putting it out as I would normally, as an artist. It started making me think, I don’t even know which version I should be putting out!
Because some people were like [of the demos], Oh, I love it, I love it. And I was like, No, don’t love it because it’s not done. So it made me crazy.
ROUNDTABLE # 3: It was devastating as somebody who has always admired your work, too, I thought, wow, what a horrible thing to do.
MADONNA: Yeah, and also very confusing. Because a lot of these things were being shared on my supposed “fan sites,” and I was thinking, “Well, my fans should be supporting me and protecting me.” So I don’t know — the whole thing confused me…still does. And what [the hacker] did — he’s in jail in Israel — what he’s done is considered a white-collar crime, so I don’t even know what’s going to happen to him. I hope he goes to jail for a long time. But let’s not dwell on that stuff, though [smiles and laughs].
ROUNDTABLE # 4: Of all the collaborators you worked with on this album, who was the biggest surprise — or was there a particular track that you felt was the most unexpected?
MADONNA: Hmmm…I felt like I wrote a lot of good songs with Avicii’s writing team, and I didn’t expect that, because I ended up writing a lot of personal and very soulful songs with them, whom I refer to as my Viking Harem, who are all really wonderful, intelligent, soulful people, and they made me feel really comfortable. So I guess I felt like I was safe enough to write those kind of songs, and that surprised me.
EDGE: We’re all very excited about the upcoming tour. Can you give us a preview of what you have planned?
MADONNA: No. [GROUP LAUGHS] Now why would I do that? I want it to be a surprise for you.