VM: What kind of music was in your program?
M: I was playing mostly Deranged Punk with minimal Funk. I started getting really frustrated though, I wanted to have more freedom on stage to move around and be more of singer I was confined to playing the right chords on my guitar. I expanded the band by hiring a new guitarist. Then I met this lady who wanted to manage me. She had a rehearsal loft in the same building I had one in and we would see each other in the elevator. One day she came up to me and said “I can feel your energy and you have a lot of potential. Can I hear your tapes? I have a rehearsal studio and I am interested in managing you.” She heard the tapes and said they were great. She offered me her studio to rehearse and write songs in. She got a new band together for me which later become “The System.” I was booked for a lot of dates out of NYC which paid better. She also paid for me to go to Media sound to cut a 4-track song demo which was never used. I don’t think she understood my direction as an artist.
She wanted to push me toward a Pat Benatar mold, because she thought my image was more white rock. I would sing these funk songs and she would say it didn’t fit my image. I though why couldn’t I start a new genre. But she wasn’t taking my tapes around. It was like she was punishing me for not doing the music she wanted me to do. I stopped our relationship but in doing so I lost the studio, the band she was paying for and my apartment. I was back where I was before.
The only person that stuck with me through all this was my drummer Steve Bray. I knew him from Detroit and bumped into him back when my band was in need of a drummer. We decided we didn’t want to be bothered with bands anymore. We wanted to cut our own record deal. All we needed was a good demo that represented the direction we wanted to go in. Steve had a friend who had a loft with a 4-track machine in it. We snuck in late one night and cut a four song demo. One of the songs was “Everybody”. It was the first time I made a tape and that I was really happy with it. I wanted to take it out and let it be heard.
I started hanging out in DJ booths because record company people go to the clubs to hear the newest songs. I went to Danceteria a lot and became good friends with the DJ, Mark Kamins. We had a lot of the same interests in music. He said that I sounded like I know a lot about music, I told him that I was a singer, and that I had a demo. I brought “Everybody” over early the next night and he really liked it. He played it in the middle of the night and the people stayed on the floor dancing. Michael Rosenblatt the A&R person for Sire records was there and he was really impressed.
Mark Kamins claimed me as his discovery and his artist, which was fine because I wanted someone between me and the record companies. Mark started taking me around to all the record companies to see which would give us the best deal. We went to major companies because I wanted to be promoted as an artist with an image. All the companies were interested but Sire offered the best immediate deal. I took the offer and went to cut my first record “Everybody” and Mark Kamins produced it. Then came “Physical Attraction” with “Burning up” on the flip and lastly my LP. I also want to tell you how I met John Jellybean Benitez, We met while I was working on “Physical Attraction,”” which he mixed.
Then while I was working on the album I needed one more cut to make it complete. John, who is always receiving tapes, got a tape from a group he had worked with before called Pure Energy. The name of the song on the tape was “Holiday.” We decided to use it on my LP. Jellybean produced it and it ended up being the record that crossed me over to the Pop chart. The reason I feel “Holiday” worked so well is because while we were working on it John and I fell in love.
VM: I’ve seen your show many times and it is always visually stimulating. Lots of dancing and movement, how did it come about?
M: When “Everybody” came out the Discotheques wanted me to give shows. I said that I couldn’t because I didn’t have a band anymore. Then I was told that I could sing to the tracks of the records, not to mention a lot more money was involved too.
VM: What was the first Disco you worked?
M: The Funhouse, then the Paradise Garage. Since I didn’t have a band I wanted something more exciting. Since I had all this early dance training and knew so many dancers, I wanted to create little scenarios for each song. I think it’s a lot of fun to watch. I’ve gotten good feedback on my shows.
VM: Are Madonna and Jellybean planning any new projects together?
M: I’m going to sing on a new Jellybean production. I’m also going to the studio in February to work on my second LP. Jellybean will work on some stuff with me on the LP. Working on a whole album together would be a strain on our relationship. My relationship with John is more important to me than if he is my producer.
VM: You are very theatrical person Madonna; do you see Motion Pictures in your future?
M: I’m signed to William Morris for films so I read for a lot of movies; I just did a small part in a movie called “Vision Quest.” Jellybean and Phil Ramone did the soundtrack, I also wrote some of the songs for it!
VM: When is it coming out?
M: In the summer.
VM: Is your music going to stay funky or are you going in a new direction or what?
M: I think except for some ballads, which I will do, I will be sticking to high-energy dance music. Some might have a more techno pop crossover sound.
VM: Oh yeah, is Madonna your real name?
M: Yes, I was named after my mother.
VM: Well Madonna, thank you very much for this interview and lots of luck.
© The Vinyl Maniac