And we all love a really cute mechanic, right?
Of all these collaborators you’ve worked with on this album, what was the biggest surprise that came from that?
I felt like I wrote a lot of good songs with Avicii’s writing team, and I didn’t expect that. I ended up writing a lot of personal and very soulful songs with [that group]—who I refer to as my Viking harem—who are all really wonderful, intelligent, soulful people. And they made me feel really comfortable. I guess I felt like I was safe enough to write those kinds of songs, and that surprised me.
And Diplo was very particular. He pushed me a lot, and it served me well.
What inspired the “Living for Love” video?
The thing about that song, it’s such a passionate song, I had to present it in a passionate way. I used mythology to tell the story, with the story of the minotaur and the matador and fighting and fighting for love and the color red and flowers and horns and death and naked men. You know, the important things in life.
I don’t want to make every video the same, but I did love the richness of that video. To me, it felt like a painting that came to life. That’s what I was trying to do. I wouldn’t want to do that for every video. When I do ‘Bitch I’m Madonna,’ it’s going to be a whole different aesthetic.
You’re doing a Grindr chat. What’s your perspective on the new hookup culture apps like Grindr and Tinder have created?
It’s part of the modern world we live in. I think there are just as many assholes meeting the old-fashioned way as there are meeting in the new hookup culture.
Have you seen a change in the gay community and your gay fans from the start of your career to now?
When I first came up, the whole AIDS epidemic was starting, and the gay community that I experienced from the beginning of my career was mostly — and overwhelmingly — concerned with staying alive. And, also, I felt really aware of the preciousness of life and time. The gay community and people who were HIV-positive were treated so badly, and I was very disturbed by things. But I also saw a lot of love and connection in the gay community at that time.
Like all progress that is made in all marginalized communities or groups, I think after time goes by and you earn certain rights or you break through certain barriers, you could sometimes, maybe, take it for granted what you have now that you didn’t have before. And then that would lead to a certain lack of community, in a way, caring in a way, that I saw before.
What still frightens you?
What are you reading right now?
I’m trying to get through two different books. One is The Goldfinch and the other is a Bob Fosse biography.
Do your kids have a favorite song of yours?
They really love ‘B*tch I’m Madonna.”—that’s my teenagers’ favorite song.
My son youngest son David’s favorite song — he plays guitar — and he likes “Devil Pray.” That’s his favorite.
What do you love the most about pop music?
I love how accessible it is.
What do you despise about pop music?
Despise? That’s such a strong word. I’m not crazy about how sort of homogenized it’s become. It used to be much more diverse. Maybe it’s just what’s played on the radio sounds very much the same.
But I can’t say I “despise” it, that’s just too much. In our house we don’t use words like “despise” and ‘hate,’ we say “strongly dislike.”