How being bored and depressed in Lisbon inspired Madonna’s ‘Madame X’
Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal, is a great melting pot of musical styles.
But when Madonna moved there in 2017, it was not to make an album.
“That was the last thing on my mind,” she revealed in a Q&A at MTV’s London headquarters before 150 fans and media.
It was part of a 30-minute globally televised world premiere of the new single ‘Medellín’ which features Columbian singer Maluma.
Instead, the move was to be a soccer mum to her 13-year old son David Banda.
“I went to Lisbon because my son wants to be a professional soccer player and he was never going to have the highest level of training in America,” she explained.
“So I just kind of spun the globe in a way and did a lot of research and found my Top 5 academies for boys to train and Lisbon ended up being my favourite city of the options.
“That’s how I became a soccer mum. It’s a crazy story, I know, and it’s the last thing I would expect from a controversial girl like myself.”
Initially, she thought the move was going to be “super fun and adventurous.
“But then I found myself just going to school and picking up kids and going to soccer matches and really being ‘Netty no-mates’.
“So I started to meet people and most of the people I met were artists – either painters or musicians – and I started getting invited to people’s homes and they had things called Living Room Sessions.
“Everyone would come, sit around a table and then suddenly musicians would start getting up and playing instruments.
“I was like, ‘Wait, what is going on here?
“Artists getting up, not getting paid and just doing it for the fun and the passion?”
That’s where Madame X, her 14th album was born. It is set for a mid-June release.
It features guest appearances from Migos rapper Quavo and producer Diplo, and is her first since 2015’s Rebel Heart.
Madame X sees Madonna reunite with French producer Mirwais, whom she first worked with on 2000’s Music and then on 2003’s American Life and 2005’s Confessions On A Dance Floor.
“It was amazing,” she enthused. “I hadn’t worked with him probably in about seven years and so I wasn’t sure whether he was going to like the direction that I wanted to go in.”
She sent him some Portuguese guitar music assembled from the living room sessions, and told him, “What do you think you can do with this?”
In a few days he came back with a mashup via an 808 which she thought was “something amazing.”
She pointed out: “He’s a very intelligent guy. Very philosophical. Very educated. Very cultured and very political.
“So inevitably all of my work will end up becoming those things.
“I’m very inspired by his intelligence and hopefully vice-versa.”
Pinpointed on the line “I took a pill to be naive, to be someone I’ve never been” from the single, the 60-year old explained, “I feel like when I started my career, as an artist, I was naïve.
“There was a good thing about being naive, because you don’t think about judgement, you don’t think about what people are going to say, or think about what you’re doing, and you are free and pure in your expression.
“So I wanted to be able to go back to that time in my life when I was just starting out in New York and I didn’t care what people thought and my music really came without listening to all the noise and recommendations or suggestions, or whatever. “
She added: “And that is also the time in my life, when I was 19, when I was given the name Madame X, so the whole story comes full circle.
“Madame X is back to her roots. She doesn’t care zero you-know-whats.”
One thing Madonna has not forgotten since the early days is how to make an appearance.
For the MTV appearance, she was half punk, half dominatrix, in leather mini-skirt, body hugging bodice and fishnet tights, and swinging a riding crop