Musicians on Musicians: Madonna & Maluma
The first story from Rolling Stone‘s 2021 Musicians on Musicians package – the magazine’s annual franchise where two great artists come together for a free, open conversation about life and music – features Madonna and Maluma talking about late nights, long rehearsals, and sweating the details. The story will appear in the magazine’s November 2021 print issue, hitting stands on November 2nd.
The moment Madonna and Maluma get to Brooklyn’s Caribbean Social Club in Williamsburg, they ignite a frenzy. Both arrive around 8 p.m. on a swampy August night at the 48-year-old neighborhood gem lovingly known as Toñita’s, Madonna fresh from her 63rd birthday celebration in Italy’s southern region of Puglia and Maluma before rehearsals for his Papi Juancho tour. Throngs of neighbors, regulars, and fans crowd along Grand Street, drinks in hand. They blast music – including several Madonna hits – and try to get a glimpse of the stars through the doors of the club. Inside, Madonna (who chose the venue) and Maluma kick off a five-hour photo shoot while blaring Wizkid over the sound system. An older woman watches with delight and taps her giant gold rings against a domino table; she’s none other than Toñita herself, the club owner, who has been asked to be in a few photos.
It’s past midnight when Madonna and Maluma finally settle into a tiny table against the wall. The room is noticeably steamy. Both artists are eager to get their conversation started, but because it’s being filmed, they have to wait under hot white lights while the cameras get rolling — and the heat is making them a little delirious. Maluma sings drowsily to himself and puffs on a cigar while Madonna tries to decide if she likes the bright red blazer she has on. (She trades it for one with pinstripes.) As people buzz around them, adjusting mics and makeup, Maluma suddenly looks at Madonna from across the table. “This is a natural conversation between you and I,” he tells her with feigned seriousness. “This is a regular talk.” She breaks into a smile: “Natural. Organic. Authentic. Real,” she jokes back.
Within minutes, the din of the room fades away. It’s been more than two years since they first teamed up for Medellín, their 2019 song, and they have a lot to catch up on. Their one-on-one is also a chance to dive deeper into each other’s careers: Maluma has seen Madonna in action in the studio and on shoots, and he wants to know all about the visionary whose four-decade, constantly evolving artistry has shifted the entire pop paradigm more than once. Apologetically, he pulls out his phone (“Sorry, I didn’t remember these!”) to bring up the questions he’s written about her upcoming projects, including her new concert film, Madame X. Madonna has printed her list of questions for Maluma and lays them on the table; she’s curious about Maluma’s inspirations and the way he’s crisscrossed different genres while becoming a global star. They end up trading stories until nearly 2 a.m., while the impromptu block party formed in their honor rages on outside.
Maluma: How does it feel doing an interview at 1 a.m.? Be honest, please.
Madonna: I’m good with it. I’m used to staying up late. I’m a night owl.
Maluma: What time do you go to bed every day?
Madonna: 4 a.m.
Maluma: What? Have you been doing this for a long time?
Madonna: Mm . . . a couple of years. It’s getting later and later.
Maluma: I remember the first time that we went to the studio in London. Do you remember? It was, like, 8 p.m.
Madonna: That’s just when the juices start flowing!
Maluma: And I was like, we’re going to stay here until, I don’t know, 12. And then it was 12:30, it was 1, it was 1:30, 2, 3, 4! [Laughs.]
Madonna: That’s when you start drinking tequila and espresso.
Maluma: You gave me the solution! Tequila and espresso. Thank you very much. That was a very important thing in my life. After that, my life changed.
Madonna: I have a theory that people who were born in the daytime are most alive in the day and people who were born at night feel most creative and alive at night.
Maluma: I wake up every morning at 6 a.m., I go to the gym—
Madonna: Maybe you were born at 6 a.m.!
Maluma: I go to work out, then I go to the studio, then I have some time to play with my dogs, then at 8, 9 p.m., I’m done. I go to bed.
Madonna: You’re an old man.
Maluma: I’m an old man? For doing that?
Madonna: Those are old-man hours. You go to bed at 8? That’s crazy.
Maluma: [Laughs.] We’re all different, come on. So, you were the creative director for the Madame X tour and concert film, and involved in everything from the wardrobe to the set design to the choreography. Why is it so important to you to be involved in every aspect?
Madonna: Because the entire show is an extension of me. I love dance, I love art, I love set design. I love video, I love film, I love fashion, clothes. So, A., because I love all of those things. But B., because every aspect of the show is an extension of me, I feel like I need to pay attention to all the details.
Maluma: I remember.
Madonna: [Smiling.] You remember. Remember when we were on the set of the video [for “Medellín”]? The room was so ugly, remember we had to change the lighting completely?
Maluma: The lighting, the sofa. You almost changed me.
Madonna: Yeah, but I realized there was no replacement, so . . .
Continue reading the Full Story on Rolling Stone.
- Photographed by Ricardo Gomes.
- Fashion direction by Alex Badia.
- Produced by Rebecca Karamehmedovic for Sway NY.
- Market editor: Luis Campuzano.
- Set design by Shawn Patrick Anderson for Acme Artists.
- Photography assistant: Tristan Alex de Oliveira.
- Hair styled by Andy LeCompte for the Wall Group.
- Makeup by Kali Kennedy for Forward Artists.
- Styled by Rita Melssen.
- Nails by Naomi Yasuda.
- Skin by Tarin Blake.