Words: Will Stroude
Just days after her performance at Eurovision Song Contest grand final caused controversy with its powerful (and unnapproved) message of unity between Israelis and Palestinians, Madonna has insisted that her upcoming record Madame X is her most politically-charged since 2003's American Life.
Appearing on the cover of French LGBT magazine Têtu - on newsstands from today (22 May) - the 'Medellín' singer reveals she "frightened" by the current political climate but that she hopes her new material will help "inspire people to act."
In an exclusive interview in which she also discusses her relationship with the LGBTQ community, Madonna is asked whether she is scared, angry or fed up with the state of the world.
Photography: Steven Klein
The singer replies (translated from French): "All those feelings you mentioned. I’m scared. Frightened by so many things going on in this world. As you are I’m sure.
"But I’m also optimistic. I think the future is full of possibilities. And I hope I was able to channel my anger and my rage in order to create a music full of joy."
She adds: "To me, in many ways, this album is the continuation of American Life."
Madonna's career has been defined by her political and social activism - of using cultural provocation to spark discussion - and the star is also asked how she feels about populist right-wing figures such as Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen co-opting such tactics to espouse hate.
"If you’re a narrow-minded person using provocation, then your message will be narrow-minded," she replies. "It depends on the intention of the provocateur."
She adds: "I don’t see the world through labels and categories.
"But society loves to categorise, label and separate people: the poor, the gays, the Africans… Because it make us feel safe."
Madonna, who will release Madame X on 14 June, is also asked how she feels about being regarded as possibly the world's great gay icon, and whether it's a title she 'claims'.
"I think it’s weird to call myself an icon," she says. "I feel blessed to have a voice, and to be able to use it to help people don’t have one and to fight for the rights of those who are not heard.
"I think the word ‘icon’ is a word that other people can give you. But I can’t claim it for myself. Do you think I’m an icon?
Told she's the very "definition", Madonna replies: "So if you think I’m an icon, then I am one!"
The new issue of Têtu is on newsstands from today (22 May).