Madame X Is A Full Circle Moment For The Icon
The Queen sat down with 106.7 Lite fm’s Cubby and Christine in front of an audience of hundreds of lucky NYC fans gathered at the iHeartRadio Theater in New York City on Thursday for iHeartRadio ICONS with Madonna: In Celebration of Madame X
The event streamed on LiveXLive and YouTube last night, 21 June. Madonna looked relaxed and in a very good mood and the chat turned out to be one of the most informative interviews of the Madame X era so far.
Discussing how Madame X came to life, Madonna explained she didn’t have an interest in creating a follow-up to 2015’s Rebel Heart; two years of living in Lisbon and connecting with the local culture prompted her to refuel her musical muse – and welcome a number of surprises along the way. She said:
I never in a million years would have imagined that I would live in Lisbon. But it really was about supporting my son’s passion for soccer and wanting to have an adventure and to get outside of America for a minute. So I did go there. And it was a confusing, crazy experience for me specifically in the beginning, because I didn’t know anybody. And the culture is very different. It’s very much slower than New York.
In my moments of loneliness, and not having a friend which reminded me of my early days in New York, I met a few people who led me to meeting other people who introduced me to amazing musicians who invited me to parties and small bars and clubs. I was truly, truly inspired. I had no intention of recording another album, but somehow it just happened.
I did more freely [write what I wanted] because, as I said, I didn’t feel the pressure that I had to make another record. I was also a stranger in a strange land and at the end of the day…How many years have I been doing this? 36? Zero fucks given.
As for the backstory behind Madame X and how she was given that name by choreographer Martha Graham when she was a 19-year-old student, Madonna explained that she invited fashion designer Jeremy Scott over to listen to the new record while was finishing it and at that point, he helped her connect the dots between Graham’s nickname and her own unfamiliarity to live in a city as a stranger, something she had experienced when she relocated to New York City in the late ’70s.
It must have stayed with me unconsciously through my entire career because everyone’s always talking to me about how I reinvent myself and I think Martha Graham started it, so blame it on her.
Asked about the emotional lyrics of Come Alive, Madonna revealed that the song was inspired by her children.
[I wanted] to instill in them the idea that they never have to stand in the back and that they are important human beings – and that each and every one of us matters equally. That’s why it was also important for me to have a children’s choir singing on it.
Madonna said that every Madame X track feels like her baby, but she mentioned a few favorite ones.
It’s a toss-up between ‘Extreme Occident’ and ‘God Control. [In Extreme Occident] I say, ‘I guess I’m lost, I had to pay the cost / The thing that hurt me most, was that I wasn’t lost.’ That doesn’t make sense, right? But it really does to me because I spent my entire life listening to the noise and people’s commenting, ideas, judgments, criticisms and advice, what I should do and what I shouldn’t do…and that’s such a waste of time.
I realized that I should have always paid attention to my own intuition. To thine self be true. I realized all that time, I wasn’t lost.
Always the rebel, Madonna is still learning about herself and those lessons can be heard all throughout Madame X, particularly on a Extreme Occident.
I’ve spent my entire life listening to the noise and people’s commenting and ideas and judgement and criticism and advice and what I should do and what I shouldn’t do. One can’t help but be influenced by those voices.
For me, that song is about realizing that all the naysayers and all the people who said ‘You’re not doing the right thing’ or ‘This is a big mistake or a career ender’ or whatever and all the angst that I went through, I realized that I should have always and only paid attention to my intuition. To thy own self be true. I realized all that time, I wasn’t lost and that’s what hurt me most. I wasted all that time caring so much what people think and beating myself up and feeling bad. It’s a triumphant song but it’s also reflective and, you know, slightly bittersweet.
Talking about Dark Ballet, Madonna said she called it that way because it is the dance we are all dancing today.
They accused [Joan of Arc] of being a heretic, a lesbian, a witch, a boy, a freak, and of course I can relate to all of those things. And so, in the end, she was burned at the stake, and then she became a saint, and of course, this is what we always do. We destroy our profits and our sages and then we put them on pedestals. We have to stop doing that and appreciate people while they’re still alive.
The upcoming Madame X Tour was of course one of the topics, and Madonna had yet another chance to explain why she has decided to play smaller venues.
I like the idea of staying in one place and people coming to me. I also like the idea of being in a small theate. Intimacy… the thing we’ve become allergic to thanks to social media. I want to be close to people. I want to look into people’s eyes. I want to feel that energy. I found that when I was on tours in my very – thank god – long career, I always did small shows here and there. Every time I did a small theater after playing huge places like stadiums and sports arenas I was like ‘oh my god, so great.’ I can see people and I can talk to people.