Right before we made Confessions on a Dance Floor, I had made a record with a girl named Juliet [2005's Random Order]; we had made that album over Thanksgiving in New York, when the city was completely dead, and it was just the two of us concentrating on working on it. [I went] straight from that to Madonna, and I assumed that would be a much different experience, but she completely surprised me.
The real eye-opener was about how focused she was on avoiding the kind of over-the-top, excessive, entourage-in-the-studio environment that I had expected. It was the total opposite, really. She helped to create an environment where we were like two kids working together in a studio. It was exactly the same feeling as it was when I was working with Juliet. She was really… I don't want to say "smart," but she was really honest about music. She's really instinctive in understanding that dance music comes from a very minimal way of working. It doesn't come from throwing lots of money on a lavish production.
We spent five or six weeks in my apartment; the studio used to be upstairs in the loft. I would work on a track overnight, then she would come in and we'd start messing around. She would do vocal melodies and I would come up with a few ideas, and then she'd go, "Okay, I'm gonna go home and think about it." Then she'd come back the next day and have the hook for "Hung Up" or the chorus for "Sorry." Then I would carry on working on more tracks to keep us going. It was more of a really fluid and almost childlike environment than anything that seemed too serious.
They always say that an album sounds like the time that you had making it. I know that with that album, it was a super-productive time, but it was also really fun and natural. And I think that comes across in the way it sounds.
It's surprising that Madonna has such a simple work mode. I would have expected her to come in with her full entourage and play the diva, at least to some extent.
Well, don't get me wrong—I think in a lot of parts of her life, she is