Madonna talks ‘Rebel Heart’ with Billboard.com
From the interview by Keith Caulfield on Billboard.com
Madonna Q&A: On Her New ‘Rebellious and Romantic’ Music, Demo Leaks, ‘Possibly’ Crashing the Grammys & the ‘Crazy’ Sony Hack
“It’s kind of like the old me and the new me all mixed in together,” Madonna tells Billboard of her stunning new single “Living For Love.”
It’s a rather large understatement to say that it’s been a crazy couple of weeks for Madonna.
On Tuesday night, more than 10 of the singer’s unreleased demo recordings turned up on the Internet, causing the singer and her team to go into “overdrive” to combat the stolen leaks. (“I haven’t slept in a week,” she says.) The songs were from the sessions for her forthcoming 13th studio album, which at the time, had not been announced (and is still not finished).
To counter the leak, Madonna accelerated the release of new music: On Friday night (Dec. 19), she announced that her album, Rebel Heart, would be released on March 10, 2015 through Interscope Records, and six of its tracks would become immediately available to purchase. Among those tracks are the set’s lead single, the Diplo-produced soul-meets-house jam “Living For Love.” How far ahead of schedule was the release? The single wasn’t supposed to premiere until Feb. 14, 2015.
The album — which features a collaboration with Nicki Minaj — is also available to pre-order, and has topped the iTunes Stores’ top album tally in more than 40 countries, including the United States. She also dominated the real time Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 chart on Saturday night (Dec. 20), where two of the album’s songs (“Living For Love” and “Bitch, I’m Madonna”) were concurrently in the top three.
Billboard spoke to Madonna on Sunday morning via phone, to talk about her new album, its “chaotic” recording process, and how her day-to-day business has changed because of the leaks. She also discusses her fondness of Diplo (he’s a “badass”), a possible Grammy Awards performance, and how no one has ever called her an “Unapologetic Bitch.”
Billboard: How are you doing?
Madonna: I’m good. I’m good, I haven’t slept in a week, but I’m good.
I can only imagine the week that you’ve had so far.
Yeah. It’s been a very intense couple of weeks.
Are you OK right now? As OK as you can be considering what’s been happening?
Yeah. I mean, you know, I’m not happy that unreleased demos are out there in the world for people to hear, listen, judge, etc. etc. Once that happened we went into overdrive. A) Trying to figure out where the leaks were coming from, and then B) Trying to combat that with putting out finished music that people could focus on versus demos that were never meant for anyone to hear. So, that led to no sleep.
Did at any point you turn to someone and say “Bitch, I’m Madonna,” this shouldn’t be happening to me?
No. I said, “Shit, this is the age that we’re living in.” It’s crazy. I mean, look at what’s going on with Sony Pictures. It’s just the age that we’re living in. It’s crazy times. The Internet is as constructive and helpful in bringing to people together as it is in doing dangerous things and hurting people. It’s a double-edged sword.
Since you said that they were stolen, has it changed how you are operating your day-to-day business? Obviously, you’re trying to lock down more stuff, but I mean there’s only so much you can do, considering everything is so virtual. Has it changed your day-to-day business with recording the album and making music?
Well, we don’t put things up on servers anymore. Everything we work on, if we work on computers, we’re not on WiFi, we’re not on the Internet, we don’t work in a way where anybody can access the information. Hard drives of music are hand-carried to people. We don’t leave music laying around. We have photo shoots or video shoots, and everyone has to leave their phone at the door. I mean, unfortunately, it sucks, but that’s the way it is. That’s how leaks happen.
It’s so sucky.
It is! Because I want to go to photo shoots and play my music really loud and dance to it, and celebrate it, and I can’t.
We know crap leaks all the time, fine. But I mean, (this is) so much! You’re so meticulous about how you plan things months in advance… Like you had in your head, “Alright, this how we’re gonna roll out the single, this is how we’ll roll out the album.” And now, a huge wrench has been thrown into the proceedings. Has that pushed everything forward? Are you like, “Alright! Let’s start promoting the single now!”
Well, it’s thrown us all into overdrive. We’re having to think outside the box. Think on our feet. I didn’t plan to put my record out this way. I wanted to… plan everything in advance. Release the single, shoot a video, start talking about my record. And you know, prepare for the release of the entire album and have everything set up just so. I mean, that’s the kind of person I am. I think that’s the best way to do it. But we sort of were left with no choice.
But there’s still going to be a music video?
Of course! I will do all of those things that I’ve planned to do. It’s just, you know, people are now listening to six finished songs.
And they’re great songs, by the way.
(The release of the music) was a wonderful surprise. You’ve been able to take a bunch of lemons that had been thrown at you, and I guess make a lemon drop, or lemonade. I don’t know, take your pick.
Yeah. That’s the stupid cliché that me and (her manager) Guy Oseary have been using. We got a lemon and we made lemonade. Kind of works!
There has to be a silver lining somewhere. And, there you go. So let’s talk about the music. Did you think about releasing these six songs as an EP, and then doing another EP later? Or did you want to make sure that all of the songs stayed together as the full Rebel Heart album — as a piece of work?
Originally I wanted to put everything out together. I have an overabundance of songs, and actually, the reason I wanted to call the record Rebel Heart was because I felt like it explored two very distinct sides of my personality. The rebellious, renegade side of me, and the romantic side of me. In my mind, it was almost like I wanted to do a two-record set. So you get this chunk of songs, and that chunk of songs. That was my original goal. But then all the demos leaked and I can’t really go down that road anymore, so I put out (the six songs) first and then, I think a few more songs are going to come out during the time of the Grammys. Then the rest of the album will just come out together (in March), and they’ll just get my rebellious and romantic side all mixed in together.
You mention the Grammy Awards… I’m already picturing you on the Grammy Awards performing “Living For Love” with various guests…
…I’m picturing how that would be wonderful performed on the Grammy Awards, perhaps.
Yes, that would be wonderful. That’s possibly something that’s gonna happen. (Laughs.)
Can’t spill all the beans right now.
Read the Full Interview on Billboard.com.