Madonna Interview : Hits Daily Double
It’s All About The “Music”
With her new album, “Music,” slated for release Sept. 19 and its title-song single and video launching this week, artist/executive Madonna prepares for her latest assault on the global marketplace, as well as the imminent birth of her second child. In a conversation with HITS’ own material boy, Marc “Jackson” Pollack, the pop queen discusses her new album, video clip, single, the “butt energy in video” and how she balances recording and running her Maverick Records label.
How much input did you have in the concept, animation and locations of the “Music” video?
The concept was mine in terms of doing a takeoff on the whole [range of] stereotypes that are portrayed in R&B and rap videos. We were just having fun with role reversals, essentially, because you never see girls doing what guys do in videos. You go out and you ride with your friends, with your road dawgs, and it’s just a night out on the town – and this song, in particular, is such a party song. It’s a great dance song as well, but I’m very pregnant, and I was five-and-a-half months into the pregnancy when we shot it. I was really limited in what I could do, so I had to think of a concept that would incorporate me being almost a voyeur rather than the central force in the video. So I figured if I played this kind of mack-daddy/pimp character, where things just came to me, happened to me and happened around me while I was watching it all happen, I could kill two birds with one stone. It’s really just a typical night out on the town with my girlfriends.
Part of the video takes place in a strip club; are you trying to bring that experience into the mainstream?
You cannot get away from the butt energy in video, whether it be Snoop Dogg, “The Thong Song” or anything else. If you are spoofing something, you have to go all the way. Not only that, but girls go to strip clubs all the time and nobody has ever truly portrayed that. It’s always about the guys partaking in the strip-club activity.
The album itself seems like a natural progression from “Ray Of Light.” Was that the direction that you thought about before going into the process of writing songs and making a new record?
I always want to move forward, so I hope that I am doing that [now]. I don’t want to repeat myself, ever, and in the process of when I began working with William [Orbit], I remember that I started off saying, “Let’s not do the same thing we already did.” The “Ray Of Light” album was a very dense and layered foray into electronic music, and I wanted the new record to be stripped-down – something minimal, yet harder and edgier. I wanted to strip off the effects on my vocals and make everything have a much rawer sound. While I wanted those changes, I still wanted to [incorporate the] electronic pop aspects of “Ray Of Light.” As I started working with William, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to do the whole record with him. I knew I wanted to experiment and collaborate with other people so I found Mirwais during the writing process with William. There were lots of people [involved] in this record. I was just sort of hopping around experimenting with people and seeing who was going to come up with the sensibility of where I was at.
The new album seems to be a blending of musical styles – a step away from a strictly defined medium.
I think, more than anything, if I’ve tapped into a specific genre, that sound has had an effect on what I am doing. Over the past year or so, I was into all this stuff coming out of France – you know, Daft Punk, Rinocerose and Air. I like finding genres that are underground and try to make them more popular. I’m not by any means saying that my music is pure. I’m always going to be a hodgepodge of lots of different influences, and I think music today, especially pop music, is just that.
It seems to be the kind of thing that today’s fans are very interested in – a homogenized mixture.
You’re right. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not to call it that, because “homogenized” is a scary word; it’s the last thing you want to describe art as being. We’re just so inundated with [lesser music] right now. I like different styles; I like being able to say, “Now I want to hear Latin music – Now I want to hear some hardcore rap.” I like the different junctions, but [in a way] it’s scary that everything is kind of mushing together.
I think the MTVs of the world and the younger fan demographic have a lot to do with that.
It also reeks so much of artists just wanting to be the most popular. The way to be the most popular is to sort of cover everything and every interest, which is great for selling records and great in the small picture, but I don’t think it’s good for an artist who wants to sustain a long career. Not too many people seem to really give a shit about artists sustaining long careers anymore. I feel like music has really become so innocuous.
There was a time when you looked forward to the fourth, fifth, sixth release from a career artist. These days, it’s surprising for a newcomer to even have a third release.
Most artists can’t even get their records played unless [they] are 18 years old. There are so many fantastic artists out there not getting heard, especially a lot of bands that I love in Europe. Everyone is frustrated because it’s so hard to get your record played on radio and to sell records.