Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio – Madonna 2019

Despite Madonna’s high-profile stardom, the pop queen has decided to play smaller venues for her “Madame X” tour starting this fall, a decision she attributed to her desire to maintain intimacy with her fans.

“I like the idea of staying in one place and people coming to me. I also like the idea of being in a small theater,” the singer, who’s playing 17 shows at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, 11 at LA’s Wiltern, and six at the Chicago Theatre, among others, explained. “Intimacy… the thing we’ve become allergic to thanks to social media. I want to be close to people. I want to look into people’s eyes. I want to feel that energy. I found that when I was on tours in my very — thank god — long career, I always did small shows here and there. Every time I did a small theater after playing huge places like stadiums and sports arenas I was like ‘oh my god, so great.’ I can see people and I can talk to people.”

Madonna is no stranger to breaking free from convention and influencing pop-culture through her tunes over the past three decades. During a talk on Thursday at iHeartRadio Theater in New York where she wore her new signature eye-patch and drank rosé champagne, she talked about her legacy and the making of “Madame X” with Cubby and Christine of iHeartRadio’s 103.5 KTU. When asked about her appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1984 saying that she wanted “to rule the world,” Cubby asked if she’d made it to world domination.

“I was being provocative, as always,” said Madonna of the quote. “I would like to think that since I’ve said that, I’ve been a source of inspiration and an influence in culture.”

Cultured, she is. For “Madame X,” she drew on her time in Lisbon, Portugal, where she’s lived for the past two years after she moved there to support her son’s passion for soccer. While attending soccer games, she said she sat on cinder blocks and wore a hoodie and sneakers and that “nobody gave a s–t about her” being a star. While exploring Latin countries, she was inspired by reggaeton beats and flamenco, collaborating with Colombian artist Maluma on her single “Medallín” and speaking in Spanish and Portuguese throughout the album.

“Madame X” was a name that Madonna’s dance teacher, Martha Graham, gave her. She said that Graham revolutionized dance and was “a force to be reckoned with.” The persona, she said, is a “spy, a secret agent,” “a riddle, an open book,” a paradox of human personalities. Designer Jeremy Scott came to visit her while she finished the record, and told her that she should name the record “Madame X.”

“[Madame X] must have stayed with me unconsciously because everyone’s always talking to me about how I reinvent myself,” said Madonna.

The lyrics on “Madame X” are political, philosophical, and related to humankind accessing their personal power. On the track “Dark Ballet” she draws from the story of Joan of Arc being burned at the stake because of discrimination and fear. She called it a “Dark Ballet” because she said it is the dance we are all dancing today.

“They accused her of being a heretic, a lesbian, a witch, a boy, a freak, and of course I can relate to all of those things,” said Madonna. “And so, in the end, she was burned at the stake, and then she became a saint, and of course, this is what we always do. We destroy our profits and our sages and then we put them on pedestals. We have to stop doing that and appreciate people while they’re still alive.”

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