In the latest issue of MOJO magazine, available on UK newsstands now, Madonna speaks candidly about the musical choices and lyrical confessions that have driven her from Michigan misfit to global superstar via the musical melting pot of New York in the late-’70s/early-’80s.
“All my friends were DJs so I wanted my records to sound like what I wanted to dance to,” says Madonna of her musical baby steps. “I would go to clubs and I would listen to what would make me dance. And then I would go back and I would work on my music. I mean, I was influenced by Debbie Harry, Talking Heads, The B-52’s. So to me the line was very blurred between what I was working on and what I was dancing to.”
Madonna also holds forth about drugs, religion, free music in the digital age – her position very different from that of recent MOJO cover stars U2 with whom she shares manager Guy Oseary – and her latest studio album, her 13th, entitled Rebel Heart. But again and again she returns to her passion for music and its atavistic power.
“Just the feeling of the tribal, the community,” she tells MOJO’s Tom Doyle. “Y’know, people coming together in a room. That bass booming, people dancing, moving in unison. There’s something really primal about it and inexplicable. I think it’s in our nature to want to do that. To want to join together and move to a beat.”
It’s the first time Madonna has been on the cover of MOJO magazine, an occasion prompting two editions: a news-stand version and a Special Subscribers’ Issue with exclusive artwork overseen by Madonna herself.
The new MOJO also features a free CD, Change The Beat, showcasing influential punk-funk and alt-disco sounds from Madonna’s emergence – including Arthur Russell, ESG, 23 Skidoo, Curtis Mayfield, Funkadelic and more.
With Bob Dylan’s new Sinatra covers album reviewed elsewhere in the issue, we also present an in-depth celebration of Bob’s 20 best cover versions. Then there’s Ronnie Spector on breaking free from Phil; David Johansen on punk, junk and The New York Dolls; Sleater-Kinney, The Go-Betweens, Hozier and The Exploited.
Madonna portrait: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
Shirt: Thom Browne
Tie: Giorgio Armani
Jewellery: Lynn Ban
Shorts: Kora Rae
Make-Up: Lucia Peroni
Styling: Arianne Phillips