Madonna was tired but cheerful when she sat down in her Manhattan mansion for her Rolling Stone cover-story interview, just after the Grammys in February. She gave a mini-tour of a small portion of her house, pointing out the Debbie Harry and David Bowie photos in her elevator (“nobody in their 20s knows who that is”), the one-of-a-kind collage the late Keith Haring made for her and many photos by her friend Steven Klein. In the interview itself, she discussed ageism, Lady Gaga, Kanye West and much more — but there was even more that didn’t make the print edition. Here’s the best of the rest, including a look at the creative process behind her new album, Rebel Heart.
I enjoyed the Grammys performance — and watching the rehearsals as well.
It’s a process, yeah. I enjoyed the rehearsals more than the performance.
I enjoy the process of everything more than the pressure of the finished product. It’s like everything. When I go on tour, I like the rehearsal. I like the creation of everything. like being able to wear my rehearsal clothes and be sweaty and not having to worry about how I look and just get into what it is I’m trying to say and do. Same with making music.
You know, the process is obviously much more liberating than delivering something for the world to judge. [Laughs] Because then you have to say, “This is the final thing.” But actually, it’s never the final thing. You wish you could do it again, or tweak it just a little bit more, or change things. Well, that’s what art is. So I enjoyed the Grammys. But after I did it, I wanted to do it again, only better. [Laughs] And of course, my experience of it is not what everybody else is experiencing. And then you have the TV aspect of it, which is, who knows what they filmed?
And it’s not under your control.
Live TV is one of the most stressful things ever. When you do your live shows, you have two hours, so if you make a mistake, it’s OK. You move on, you have 20 other songs to do. And that whole audience is there to see you anyway. But when you do an awards show, it’s not your audience. You have five minutes or less, and it’s like, do you play to the crowd? Do you play to the cameras? It’s kind of a mindfuck.
Does the process of planning these small performance start your thinking about the tour?
I mean, when I make the music, sometimes I get fleeting moments of ideas of what I would do live. But it’s not until I start doing my promo shows that I start going, “Oh, I’m going to elaborate on this theme or this persona.” I like to create personas and then the persona changes and grows into other things. So, again, process. I’m at the beginning of that process right now, in terms of thinking of my tour and stuff.