Do you date – or is that just impossible given that you’re, you know, Madonna?
It’s a challenge. I generally meet people through work. Musicians, writers, producers, dancers. I’m attracted to people who are creative, but I don’t have a dating manifesto.
It seems like nothing can break your spirit. Would you say that’s true?
That’s absurd. Even strong women have moments of weakness and vulnerability. I have my nervous breakdowns; I just do them privately.
This album reads like a who’s who of the music industry – Kanye, Diplo, Nicki Minaj. How do tou go about choosing who you work with?
We pick one another. It was my manager’s idea to work with Avicii’s team. I didn’t know that Tim [Bergling] was a songwriter. I thought of him as a DJ/producer, but he had two teams of writers. I would go from room to room, sitting and writing with them. I called them my Viking Harem. I don’t remember how Diplo came along, but he was somebody whose music I liked a lot. He brought a whole army of people with him. I think he thought I was going to be quite difficult. He was nervous, but then little by little, all the people started getting pushed away. [Writing] is a trust game, some people you immediately have a connection with and they get your sense of humor. You click into their frequency. Other people are strangely uptight and you’re thinking, Okay I can’t wait until this is over. Natalia [Kills], I loved her from the minute she walked in the room. And MoZella, she’s a Michigan girl. I clicked with her immediately.
How hard was it to have so many people involved?
The whole writing process was like a train that kept running. I kept picking people up. Some people stayed on the train longer than others. They would get off at stations, and they would get on at other stations. Diplo kept coming and going. Kanye would come and go. We’re living in an age when these DJ/producers are working with lots of artists. Nobody’s doing entire records with anybody. So I was going crazy thinking, Can’t I just have you for a whole week? Why do I just get you for two days? There was a constant battle for people who were very busy traveling. That drove me bonkers. But that’s how everybody ended up getting into the mix.
You and Kanye in one room must be pretty intense – what was it like working together?
It’s a little bit of a bullfight, but we take turns. He knows that he’s walking into a room with a person with a strong point of view, and I do too. I listen to what he has to say, take it in, and he listens to what I say and takes it in. He knows that I have the final say on my songs at the end of the day, but I respect his opinion. We didn’t agree on everything, but he has good ideas. There was no screaming match ever on this record. Actually, I may have screamed at Diplo once. But that’s only because he ran out to do a photo shoot in the middle of a session without warning me [laughs].
Tell me about the song “Unapologetic B*tch.” What was the inspiration?
It’s about a guy who fucked me over. It’s got nothing to do with society.