Some album details from TÊTU Interview:
...in many ways, this new album is, indeed, a continuation of American Life.
‘Dark Ballet‘ and ‘Killers Who Are Paryting‘ are analyzed and some of the lyrics revealed; ‘I’ll be Israel if Israel is incarcerated / I’ll be Islam, if Islam is attacked’ she sings in the latter one. We also can assume ‘Beautiful Game‘ (the song performed at MET Gala in 2018) has been interpolated inside ‘Dark Ballet‘ as some of the lyrics revealed appear the same. She also mentions the song ‘Fuana‘ and ‘Ciao Bella‘ which will be bonus tracks on the special version of the record.
On ‘Killers Who Are Partying’, you sing « I’ll be Israel if Israel is imprisoned / I’ll be Islam, if Islam is attacked ». What should we understand? That you want to join the minorities?
Madonna: What Mirwais and I try to say in this song is that we don’t see the world in a fragmented way, but as a unity. And I am part of it. I see myself as an aspect of the Universe’s soul. I don’t see the world through categories and labels. But society loves to categorize and separate people: the poors, the gays, the Africans… because it gives us a feeling of safety. What I say in this song is that I will embody each case in which people try to lock us in. I will be in the front line. I will take the punches, the fire. Because I am a citizen of the world and because my soul is connected to all humans souls. So I am responsible for everybody. If one person suffers, I suffer. To me, to song is an act and a declaration of solidarity.
TÊTU: Mirwais produced 6 songs on this album. How was the reunion?
Madonna: We never fell out of touch. It was great to work together again. ‘Killers Who Are Partying’ is the first song we created. It’s a political song but everything Mirwais and I do always becomes political because it’s his way of thinking. The guitar that we hear at the beginning of the song is a sample that I recorded during a fado session. The sound of this guitar is exactly what I wanted. I really felt inspired by the melancholy and the feeling of this music, by the sound of Cesaria Evora, the morna and Cape Verde. The authenticity of the music that I hear everywhere in Portugal has touched me. I wanted to appropriate this music and make it more modern. I asked to Mirwais: «What do you think you can do with this? Does it inspire you?». Of course, he really liked it.
TÊTU: In the song ‘Dark Ballet’, you say «Your world is full of pain». You are not a part of «our world»?
Madonna: I am not saying that your world is not mine anymore. I am just saying that this world where people are ruled and dominated by the illusion of fame and luck, ruled, dominated and slaved by social networks, ruled and dominated by oppressors who discriminate endlessly people.. this world, I refuse to be a part of it. This song, Dark Ballet, was inspired by Joan of Arc and her story. It’s like a junction point. Madame X and Joan of Arc come together. I speak her words and her language and I say: «I am not afraid to die for what I believe in.» And this is exactly what I feel.
TÊTU: In ‘I Rise’, we can hear a sample of Emma Gonzales’ speech, one of the survivors of the Parkland school’s shooting who became an icon of the fight against guns. Do you feel that you inspired this generation?
Madonna: I hope so. That’s what I am looking for. I see Emma as a spokeswoman and pioneer of her generation. I just keep doing what I have always done. I fight for women’s right and all humans in general. I fight for equality.
TÊTU: In Medellin, the first single of the album, you seem to remember your debut when you were 17. What do you think of your career?
Madonna: I think I’ve taken a lot of shit! (she laughs). That’s true. I have the impression that I broke many boundaries for the women who came after me. But I know that our fight is far from being over. And to be honest, I have the impression that I still fight for the same things today.
TÊTU: We don’t know well Dino D’Santiago, could you tell us more your collaboration with him?
Madonna: He was kind of an interface. He is from Cape Verde and most of the musicians from Cape Verde I worked with don’t speak English. He was with me in the studio when we were recording and was telling them what I wanted. He helped me musically to give life to these songs because I had no other way to communicate with them. Well.. in a way I did with the music. We wrote a song called Fuana that will be a bonus track. I have another song called Ciao Bella which is not on the deluxe version of the album. The singer Kimi Djabaté who comes from Guinée-Bisdseau sings on this track. Once again, it’s Dino who introduced me to him. When he came to record for this album, he didn’t speak English at all. Only créole. Dino was the translator and really helped me. When I recorded Killers Who Are Partying and Extreme Occident which are influenced by the morna, I sent them to him to have his feedbacks. I wanted to know if he was feeling the authenticity fo these songs. His approval was very important to me.
TÊTU: On the album, you sing in Portuguese and in Spanish. Is it a way to challenge the hegemony of English in the pop culture?
Madonna: That’s exactly what it is! I like the idea of worldwide music. I hate compartments. We don’t want to do it with people, why should we do it with music? I like to turn on to the radio in New York and listen to people sing in Spanish, take my car in Lisbon and listen to reggaeton or dancehall. It’s great. To use other languages was a challenge but you say that I like challenges.