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William Orbit's Thoughts on MDNA


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This was posted in the MDNA discussion. And it's being overlooked. It's the only reaction we have read about all this debacle.

William Orbit on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/WilliamOrbit

I appreciate your analysis of the album release 'strategy' @Madonna Express Yourself. I wasn't involved in its formulation in any way myself. All I will say is that certain thoughts about it that I see expressed online by committed fans such as yourself, were blindingly obvious to me from the very get go, well before the release. But I'm no Jimmy Iovine, with the ability to advocate my convictions forcefully, and as co-producer, co-writer etc am aware that it is not in my 'job spec'.

But you won't see me exactly jumping up and down with delight over the way that things have panned out. We were very pushed for time, due to a rather interesting and shall we just say, 'traditional' method of recording that the esteemed engineer Demo was partial to, and various pressing commitments that took up the artists limited time, such as perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavours which are beyond my own limited understanding of pop star agendas.

The recording sessions for the six songs I did were hugely enjoyable for all of us. M was on form and better than ever with her singing and writing and musicality, and was having a great time. We had songs lined up that were breathtaking. You'll hear some of them on Chris Brown's new album, and they are the best ones, Kreayshawn's (INCREDIBLE) new album, my own recently completed 'Strange Cargo' album. And some other surprising places. SNAPPED up by the artists concerned. Most of them, I believe, destined to become classics (let me know in a couple months wether you concur with that)

The team I assembled in NY for MDNA were, and are as good as it gets now. Writers and musicians and performers I picked because they take my breath away with their talent. And are totally of-the-moment in everything good that is going on in contemporary music at the moment. And usually hard to book because they are so in demand. And all of us fully committed to putting ourselves through extraordinary efforts to make MDNA the greatest album of the year.

But alas, the time wasn't there. Great swathes of it taken up by the engineer and his assistant bouncing reverb tracks for hour after hour, night after night. Not to real tape or anything, where you could posit that there would be an advantageous sonic dividend (real tape can be magic) but all in the digital domain. A purely procedural thing. Although not a procedure I or any of my own colleagues in this game would want to squander time with.

I was just describing to a friend of mine, and whom I frequently work with Serban Ghenea (just look him up if you want to be awed) how it was done, and he thought I was kidding him!

Over the years it's become obvious to me that along with Madonna being the greatest pop artist of ALL time, her fan base are also the most ardent, cohesive, discerning and loyal fan base of any artist. Not saying that to blow smoke, is quite obviously true. Big respect. And long life to us all. And as you look at things in a 'long term' way (my way also) you always call it like you see it. And I'm with you on that too. Be honest and true, speak your heart and mind, and let the dust fall where it will.

AND LATER:

William Orbit: Oh, and if some bright spark at marketing central suggested a Hilary Clinton approach, ie, press 'restart' and get back in the studio for a couple weeks and do what they nowadays call a 're-pack', I'd certainly put my hand up for that, whatever else I had going on. But realistically, there is only one person that could make that happen. And with the best songs in the world, and the best mixing, best ProToolsing, best team, best lyrics, best bananas, after this little screed I don't suppose I should while away my hours staring at the phone! But i feel better for saying all that. Debt free and not beholden. The thing about having little appetite for riches and fame, and no great tower of expectations, you haven't got anything to be taken away. And having always been an outsider, outside in the cold, It's always clear which way the wind is blowing. I was never inside any bubble long enough to forget how the wind blows, and changes, and ebbs and gusts, and dies away completely. As before a storm. And that a beautiful bubble might yield to even a the breeze from a humble fan

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"We were very pushed for time, due to a rather interesting and shall we just say, 'traditional' method of recording that the esteemed engineer Demo was partial to, and various pressing commitments that took up the artists limited time, such as perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavours which are beyond my own limited understanding of pop star agendas"

To me this expresses not only that the way of recording the album was a bit rushed (to be fair, i don't feel any rushing in the tracks produced by Orbit, in fact they sound so good!). I think it expresses that the album released was rushed. I felt that too: I think that Superbowl was the thing that changed everything.

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Guest Not4Pussies

posted on his FB page

"William, "perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavours"... It's painful to watch, really. The Madonna brand has turned into such a cynical marketing plan - and a really ill-informed paint-by-numbers one, at that - with no real drive behind it existentially, any more. I mean, it was always calculated, but it was intertwined with the music, with the whole package, and in that way it meant something and it worked. It worked WITH culture, it fucked with it, that's how she became so iconic. But this is just led on a leash by Marketing 101, except none of them even seem to be able to nurture the brand properly to play with, they just play with it, and off she goes on these ridiculous co-branding exercises that are designed to build her base, but then achieve nothing more than giving the crazy diehards something else to camp out for and post pics with to facebook. They're making do with what they have, but they don't seem to have a general concept there of what they're doing with "Madonna" - and, I hate to say it, but she's like a stunned rabbit lately. And fair enough, she's older, she's not connected to it, and maybe she just doesn't give a fuck anymore - different when she was a vicious 33 year old egomaniac, and then a 40 year old enlightened warrior wanting to explain herself to the world. Now she's just kinda clinging on to demographics - looking like she doesn't have the first clue how to deal with, uh-oh, getting old in the fame cycle - and clearly standing behind a team she is in no way an active part of, and a team that has no long term interest in her, and no real understanding of her it would seem. There's no ideology, it's transient marketing - and without the ideology there's nothing to market, they just don't get that. They've fragmented her and repackaged her to fit so may various "contemporary" models, she's everything and nothing at all. I mean, the kids will never like her - never - and the older broader audience have a very distinct view of Madonna, and it's very negative these days, and yet they don't address that or work with that, they just repackage her in so many ways that play into the negative branding. It's a wonder any of them still have a job.

But then, is she surrounded by Yes Men, and just doesn't even realise? That's the bit that concerns me, because then there will be no lesson learned from MDNA. And instead of a corner being turned, she'll just repeat the same mistakes til she fades horrendously and in a way that is, quite frankly, wrong for someone as fabulous as her to end up! And that's the thing, no, William, it's not your problem or your domain, so it's by no means your fault or responsibility... but you know very well whatever happens in that studio, good or bad, is still ultimately at the hands of the marketing (that's part of your frustration, no less?!), and that's what happened to MDNA, everyone who understands the process can see that. She needs to sack those idiots and decide what brand she's going to be - then, with the right people and vision, be it - and then make a killer album to go with it. I can't bear to see her sitting on a catwalk for a department store, going "Well, this cool neon pink sweater is perfect for school and parties". It's painful! It's like "Hello! For fuck's sake, you're MADONNA!"

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thanks for putting this up as its own thread.

Agreed that he seems to be pissed at the way the recording was handled - but I think we should note she does seem to have spent much more time with Solvieg than Orbit. "We know each other so well that we don't even have to talk" said Madonna about how they worked together. Maybe that's true in ways that are more painful than she realizes...

In any case, his songs sound great, as does the rest of the album. What intrigues me is that he says he had MORE awesome songs that weren't recorded - and that now are in the hands of other artists. And that WOULD be a shame. But you know what they probably thought? "We already have FOUR surefire hit singles - Give Me All Your Luvin, Girl Gone Wild, Turn Up the Radio and Superstar/LoveSpent. Let's not waste more TIME and invest more MONEY on this album."

Oh well. As he says, hopefully she's headed towards a repackaging of the album. That would be sweet, because I think the album is amazing, one gorgeous hit song would be grand, and of course more Madonna songs at this point are always a blessing.

I hope Madonna doesn't get too pissed off at him. Maybe she it was time that she opened her eyes and leave the past behind ;)

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Im glad he spoke out, maybe it'll open her eyes - if she sees it at all. who's the sound engineer? don't tell me it's that kevin antunes :s - anyway, I keep thinking the blame is on oseary, as he's probably the guy telling her "that won't work for radio" or "that won't work for youth". but who knows really. although I do have to say that I don't trust oseary at all - something about his look. brahim & his friend had too much fun when he got that cake thrown at him ;)

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Love this, thanks for bringing it to my attention Karby. I bet he sent it to her first, thats brilliant that she has got a Mr honest in her life. I guess the only others are her kids now.

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Guest Not4Pussies

she needs to stop branding herself to the younger generation. she's been doing it since HC.

and i think it's the influence of the very young people she surrounds herself with, her daughter (yes, she said herself Lola tells her whats "hot" at the moment) and Guy O.

she needs to fuck what the people say like she says she does and forget about trying to win a younger audience.

she shouldve returned huge with Gang Bang, then GGW, Im Addicted, etc.

so many great artists out there who dont get any radio airplay, they dont sell huge numbers

but they release the music they want. the music they like. it feels authentic.

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"We were very pushed for time, due to a rather interesting and shall we just say, 'traditional' method of recording that the esteemed engineer Demo was partial to, and various pressing commitments that took up the artists limited time, such as perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavours which are beyond my own limited understanding of pop star agendas"

To me this expresses not only that the way of recording the album was a bit rushed (to be fair, i don't feel any rushing in the tracks produced by Orbit, in fact they sound so good!). I think it expresses that the album released was rushed. I felt that too: I think that Superbowl was the thing that changed everything.

I think the recording was rushed and was done in fits and starts as she was still tweaking that GOD DAMN film, more because they had to have an album she could tour behind, than because she felt inspired and passionate. I said the same thing the other day and everyone (okay just Kurt) jumped down my throat. And now William corroborates it.

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Opposed to some songs and the promo on MDNA, that "god damn film" at least is a beautiful project, both visually AND especially musically.

I doubt W.E is to blame at all. If anything, it may have inspired her to work harder and not be content with generic radio friendly .. shit.

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The album is excellent.There's nothing wrong with the songs.The only problem was the promotion,or lack thereof.

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I just don't get why he gave songs to shit bag Brown, that's low.

I agree.It would be painful to hear what Chris did to Orbit's songs.

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I am kind of confused by this reaction. If it has nothing to do with money (ergo, how successful the record was) then why is he upset? It's a brilliant album, even if it doesn't end up in the Top 10 best selling albums of the year (which it very well may). I certainly agree it wasn't promoted well enough, but that is the commercial aspect, not the creative.

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the sound engineer is Demo castillon who was the sound engineer on "Hard Candy" too. He's also behind the Demolition crew that remixed and saved "I'm addicted" from the horrible production of Benny Benassi that can be heard on GGW and apparently they also saved "Gang bang" as well judging from what the demo sounds like compared to the album version they remixed.

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Sorry but the album in no way sounds rushed or an afterthought of other endeavours. Solveig and Benassi have not expressed a similar sentiment, not even at the slightest. When and if we hear these tracks he talks about we can judge if his complaints have any merit.

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Finally the truth. The secret of The Crying Game has been revealed: MDNA is a man! A rushed juvenile man child of disappointment. Go William Orbit. Madonna will surely not use you again pretty but dated music.

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^ Oh please

the sound engineer is Demo castillon who was the sound engineer on "Hard Candy" too. He's also behind the Demolition crew that remixed and saved "I'm addicted" from the horrible production of Benny Benassi that can be heard on GGW and apparently they also saved "Gang bang" as well judging from what the demo sounds like compared to the album version they remixed.

How do you know that?

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I'm loving all the opinions of this thread. I agree with all, but I won't mind this subject anymore. I'll just seat here and wait for MDNA Tour.

If that's what she wants to give us then that's why I will expect.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/madonna-mdna-failure-william-orbit_n_1527939.html

Madonna's 'MDNA' Failure: William Orbit Reveals How He Wishes Album Would Have Fared On Facebook

Hopes that Madonna would re-claim her pop crown from Lady Gaga with "MDNA" were dashed when the album plunged on the charts shortly after its March release -- a victim of weak single choices and, some say, a lack of promotion on the Material Girl's part.

Now one high-profile producer is opening up about the experience on Facebook, saying he wishes "MDNA" would've turned out differently and blaming the album's failure on rush marketing and timing.

"[Madonna] was on form and better than ever with her singing and writing and musicality, and was having a great time," writes William Orbit, who previously collaborated with the pop star on her 1998 album "Ray of Light," which won four Grammy awards. "We had songs lined up that were breathtaking."

But then, from the sounds of it, things turned sour. After one fan comments on Orbit's page, noting that "most people are writing off" the album and accusing Madonna's record company Interscope of "gradually destroying" her career, the producer notes, "All I will say is that certain thoughts about it that I see expressed online by committed fans such as yourself, were blindingly obvious to me from the very get go, well before the release." He continues: "But you won't see me exactly jumping up and down with delight over the way that things have panned out...we were very pushed for time."

He doesn't mince words when it comes to working with Madonna herself, either, noting the "various pressing commitments that took up the artist's limited time, such as perfume ranges and teen fashion contests and other such endeavors which are beyond my own limited understanding of pop star agendas."

Claiming that he would "lie down in the mud if she didn't want to get her shoes messed up," he adds, "It's hard to be an effective knight when your hands are bound."

"The thing about having little appetite for riches and fame, and no great tower of expectations, you haven't got anything to be taken away," he observes. "And having always been an outsider, outside in the cold, It's always clear which way the wind is blowing."

For their part, Madonna's devoted gay fanbase has largely responded to "MDNA" with mixed reviews. Boy Culture blogger and Madonna authority Matthew Rettenmund called the album "arguably...her best effort since 'Ray of Light'" in his detailed review, while Kenneth In The 212 guest blogger Christopher Carozzo slammed Madge's "ridiculous lyrics" and use of "cold" electronic vocoder effects.

Carazzo then echoed the sentiments of many diehard fans by concluding, "It makes me ache for a new collaboration with Patrick Leonard or Stephen Bray," a nod to the producers of some of Madonna's biggest hits like "Like a Prayer" and "Into The Groove."

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By the way, here is the stuff Madonna Express Yourself originally posted on FB that William Orbit was responding to, if you all want some context to his rant:

Madonna has now released 2 singles through Interscope in the UK, both have been disastrous. 'Give Me All Your Luvin' was released with many sales deemed chart ineligible, due to an unnecessary free download with pre order of the album. Based on sales of the single during this period, Madonna would have earned another UK number 1. However, the single peaked at number 39 becoming her lowest ever UK top 40 position, unheard of for a first single from a Madonna album. Physical copies of the single weren't released for weeks and were almost impossible to find. Interscope then spent time promoting 'Masterpiece' to radio, with the song A-Listed on BBCR2 and charting at number 68 - but the song failed to be promoted further or officially released as a single, adding another dismal charting for MDNA. A video for 'Girl Gone Wild' was then heavily promoted, but the single was nowhere to be seen. Despite it's March video release, the 'GGW' single failed to materialise in the UK until Friday(!!) 11th May on iTunes (guaranteeing a low chart for that week as UK charts are run Mon-Sat. Physical copies were released the week of May 14th, with promotion already been and gone for the single. Midweek chart figures show the single at number 49 in the Uk chart - which will be Madonna's lowest charting official single release ever in the UK, 'Borderline' reached 56 on it's initial run in 1984 but later climbed to number 2 on re-release. The album MDNA, despite reaching number 1 in the UK album chart on it's first week, has now disappeared out of the UK top 40 within 6 weeks! This all seems very suspicious, perhaps a way of 'Interscope' fazing out Madonna single releases. Had the singles been released on time and in line with the videos, Madonna would certainly have had further top 10 hits in the UK, which would have helped MDNA maintain chart sales. As it stands now, most people are writing off the brilliant album due to all the flop single releases. Madonna fans should demand to know what is going on and why are the releases so badly promoted. Even with Madonna's lack of promotion, the singles would stand up well on their own if 'Interscope' sorted out proper release dates instead of waiting months to release already promoted singles. They are gradually destroying Madonna's career in the UK and giving haters a reason to write her off for future releases.

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Sorry but the album in no way sounds rushed or an afterthought of other endeavours. Solveig and Benassi have not expressed a similar sentiment, not even at the slightest. When and if we hear these tracks he talks about we can judge if his complaints have any merit.

This. Yes, the working environment might have not been good - which pisses him off, understandably, and in a way any fan as well - but we have to see what those songs sound like. Because MDNA is great as is, and perhaps those other songs are not as good. Although even as album fillers I can't be believe they would be lower than Superstar or B-Day Song...

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