Is she the Kabbalah obsessive the papers make her out to be?
“To that I’d say. what’s the difference between someone saying ‘It’s seven o’clock on Friday night and I have to go to the Kabbalah centre’ and someone else saying it’s seven o’clock and I’m going home to watch Lost?”
Is she a religious bore?
“She’s not particularly religious. She’s the first person to have said, ‘I’m a student of Kabbalah, not a follower of Kabbalah’ and from my point of view I don’t know what the big fuss is about. She’s just interested in something that helps her life.”
What’s she like to work with in the studio?
“She’s the greatest hands-off producer ever. Most people think producers should be pressing the buttons but she doesn’t pretend to do any of that. She sits on the couch and listens to it and tells you when you’re not being very good.”
I’ll bet she doesn’t mince her words…
“When something’s not sounding good she’ll say, ‘That’s rubbish, that’s rubbish and that’s rubbish’ and you’ll be like, ‘I know, I’m not trying to be rubbish!’. In terms of being a songwriter, she has this thing where she can turn the microphone on, open her mouth and one of those melodies comes out and you go ‘Blimey! That’s how you’ve done it!”
Is she an easy person to disagree with?
“Yes She can take disagreement but a good collaborator is someone who tells you when something’s not good. It’s the same for me – when she’s telling me that my keyboard parts are stupid I have to say to her, ‘Your melodies are not very good’. If you sit there being a ‘yes’ man all day you’re going to end up with a bad record.”
So does she have a lot of ‘yes’ men around her?
“A lot of people interact with Madonna to further their own career and I find that quite crass. On a positive note, you see people who’ve become really inspired by being around her. Her enthusiasm is infectious.”
Does she have an English sense of humour?
“Yes, she has a very English sense of humour. We spent the whole of rehearsal for the last tour quoting every line from The Office. When we were at Live 8 I went up to her and said. ‘Quick, look! There’s Ricky Gervais over there’ so we ran over and she went ‘Ricky, Ricky, Ricky, we just wanted to come say we know all your lines, we’ve seen all your shows and we thnk you’re really funny. He turned around and said, ‘Sorry, what’s your name?’.”
What went through your head when you went on stage at Live 8?
“My experience went exactly like this:’Shit shit. shit, shit, yeeeeeeeeeeeeah! Phew!’. It was brilliant. A worldwide audience of about 400 million is as big as you’re ever going to do, but the day before it was turning into a tragedy – everything was going wrong. Everyone was shitting themselves, but when that stage finally revolved around it was one of the most magical moments I’ve ever had.”
Being around her must have introduced you to the LA celebrity circuit. Do you find that scene tedious?
“The glamour side of DJing has no relevance to me. When DJs are more about who they’re hanging out with, who they’re shagging and what champagne they’re drinking, to me that’s the beast of dance music. I hate driving around Ibiza seeing DJs posing on billboards. It makes me cringe because that means it’s become more about them and less about the people. The reason I like dance music – without wanting to sound too pretentious – is because it is people’s music. A nightclub is only as good as the vibe inside it. The DJ is supposed to be making that vibe, not flying into the club flanked by security.”