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Madonna Interview

Bubble Gum Princess Gone Serene Queen
by Gabriella, NY Rock, August '98

In the years following the 1994 multi-platinum selling album, Bedtime Stories, the biggest headlines surrounding Madonna have been the birth of her daughter, Lourdes. Quite strange for the “Material Girl” who loved to shock the public with appearances often banned from daytime TV. Now, with Ray of Light, a matured lady Madonna has emerged--unfortunately, to the dismay of supermarket tabloids everywhere.

Ray Of Light
is very different from your other albums. How much influence did producer William Orbit have?

William turned my songs into a daring mix of trance sound, warm-blooded triphop, catchy drum & bass rhythms, a lot of pop and beautiful orchestra arrangements in abundance. That's what makes the songs on Ray Of Light sound modern and old-fashioned at the same time. You can dance to them but at the same time they invite you to dream.

You seem so quiet and balanced. That's quite a change from the pop icon who rebelled against the establishment...

I was never an icon and I was also never a woman who acted in a political way. Of course, I fought against male domination, against a world ruled by men, but I never wanted to change the world and turn male domination into female domination. What I did, I did for myself, to free myself. I never really planned to be an idol for millions of women all over the planet, and I never saw men in general as the enemy. The enemies were people who tried to suppress me, oppressors in general. I'm still fighting against them. I just do it in a different way. Way back I was loud and, I guess you could say, obscene. Today I use the power of silence.

That's a major change.

The times have changed and I changed with them, obviously. Men and women are almost on equal footing now. Also, we're living in a very important time: The era of Aquarius is drawing closer. We are moving towards a new millennium. Everything is moving, is floating. That is another reason why I act different than 10 or 15 years ago.

You once said you felt suppressed by the Catholic religion and environment you grew up in...

The Catholic belief takes possession of one's soul and it's hard to get your soul back. I grew up in a patriarchic, male dominated society. It's very difficult for a woman to escape that kind of society. The restrictions the society forces, or tries to force upon a woman, believe me.

I think it's pretty hard for people from a patriarchic society to accept a woman as equal...

Not only that, it's a society who uses different standards for men and women, a society who firmly believes that a woman can't be erotic and intelligent at the same time. She's not allowed to be both. My goal was to show them that it's possible, to free myself from their grip.

You built an emporium. You were and still are a sex symbol. Nobody can doubt anymore that you are sexy and smart.

I worked really hard for that. Now that I've freed myself from the past, I see things differently. I know that there are different and more important questions than, "Can a woman be sexy and smart at the same time? Is a woman allowed to be sexy and smart at the same time?" That's not an issue for me anymore, because I know I'm both.

So no more challenging the world?

I wouldn't call it challenging. I still question the world. Not every day but still pretty often, but the more I ask the more answers I get and the more questions arise. Life in general is pretty strenuous but also enormously rewarding and interesting.

So your success didn't leave you bored and jaded?

I hope that I will never lose my curiosity. I am an artist at heart and my heart forces me to keep my eyes open and to try new things, but in the past few years I also learned how to relax. I can watch TV, sit around for hours, just read a book or play with my daughter and I don't feel guilty because I'm not productive. I reached an age where I allow myself quiet phases and I learned to enjoy them. Those phases are enormously important for me. I remember that I couldn't sit still for a second. I was always on the move. I was pretty often aggressive, wild and unpredictable, but that has changed. Meditation showed me how much energy silence has. You don't have to be loud to try out new and revolutionary ways.

Is the Madonna we see today the Madonna of the future, or should we expect more changes?

I always was and still am hungry for change, for everything new, for the unknown. I don't want to stagnate, but I don't want to force changes. I realize that I don't have limits. Limits are always influences that come from outside, from people who don't believe in themselves and their abilities. I firmly believe in myself. I know that I can do whatever I want and that I'll always reach my goals.

What are your plans for the future?

I don't make plans anymore. I'm a mother. That's future enough for me. The rest will happen by itself, but I will always be somebody who rather acts than reacts. Maybe that's more exhausting and challenging, but it's also more satisfying.

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"I'm a normal height. I have a normal figure. I don't sing any better than other people. In fact, there isn't anything on the outside of me that is in any way abnormal. I think it's what's underneath, on the inside that's not normal."
"Men...they're so boring and retarded but... I just really need them. You know, in bed. But it's tough, because women are so much easier to talk to. Sex, conversation - what's more important?"

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