Kylie Minogue knows the power of fate, determination and survival. That along with her many celestial-pop confections (and, let’s face it, lots of gays) have propelled the Aussie showgirl further than a lot of doubters predicted when she was classified as a mere one-hit wonder back in the ’80s.
She sure showed them. Not even cancer could get in her way, because 26 years after her self-titled debut, “Kylie,” Minogue releases her 12th – and quite possibly best – studio album, “Kiss Me Once.”
“Into the Blue,” the disc’s liberating lead single, is a mantra of perseverance and self-reliance that only someone like Minogue could profess: “I’m still here, holding on so tight.” How did she keep her grip? In a recent chat, Minogue, 45, talked about the essentials to maintaining pop-icon longevity, Australia’s “backwards” gay marriage ban and how “Kiss Me Once” ended up reflecting her own life.
You’ve truly outdone yourself on this album, Kylie.
Oh, wow, I don’t even know what to say to that. That’s amazing. Thank you.
When we chatted at the end of 2012, around the time you celebrated 25 years in the business with “The Abbey Road Sessions,” you said you wanted your next studio album to be more personal. At this point in your career, would you say you’re making more deliberate choices song-wise to reflect your life? And what was the turning point – when did you decide that it was important to choose songs that meant something to you?
I don’t know how to answer that. That’s a hard question. At the end of 2012 I had a realization: I needed to change in order to move forward, and essentially I’m doing the same thing. I’m recording, I’m touring, I’m doing, at the core, the same stuff. But I needed some new energy. I needed new life to reenergize. I was celebrating 25 years in the business, and yeah, I just had a very powerful realization and I felt very calm that this is actually the right thing to do. So this is why I changed management. I changed something that had been a constant for 25 years and I threw myself into a new environment.
And did you want this album to mirror your own experiences?
It actually didn’t transpire that way. I co-wrote one song on the album (“Fine”), and I felt going into this album, which is the case with every album, that I don’t mind if I write the song or if someone else writes the song – it’s really about the song. But I do feel like my frame of mind was open and I did a lot of songs that really – well, they’re not personal, but they’re more like “Sexercise.” They just felt right for where I am in my life at the moment.
Ironically, something like “Into the Blue,” that made sense for me when I recorded it, though I was still in a relationship and now I’m no longer in that relationship. So it’s odd that the lyrics and the sentiment of “Into the Blue” resonate even deeper now. I kind of feel like some of these personal songs – songs that might seem personal – I just gravitated toward those. “Kiss Me Once” – I feel that. “Fine” – I feel. So I don’t have a tidy answer for that, but I just feel like it’s the headspace I was in. The songs just made sense to me.
With regard to all the sex songs on the album, the media’s been saying you “blamed” Sia for them.
Oh, I didn’t blame her at all – someone put “blame” into my sentence! I didn’t blame her for anything. I thank her for them, actually.
I was gonna say, why would you blame her? Sex has been a constant in your music for nearly your entire career!
(Laughs) Well, maybe not on my first album, or even on my second album, but yeah, it’s nothing new. Let’s face it, most songs are about love, being out of love, sex, tears, breakup, makeup. It just so happens I have three with “sex” in the title on this album. It’s just how it transpired. You might as well do it in threes, right?
Has one of your steamier songs ever come on in the middle of some sexy time?
(Laughs) Ah, no! I think I can honestly say no. That could really – oh my, I don’t even wanna think about that. Not for me anyway. I don’t mind for other people!
What line on “Kiss Me Once” makes you blush most?
Lemme think. Probably something from “Sexercise.” Mmm … oh gosh! “I’ll make you wait for more / Make you ache to the core / Tomorrow you’ll be sore. … Lemme see you bounce, bounce, bounce.”
Sia wrote that song, and she obviously possesses something special; everyone’s been tapping into her lately. And she executive produces your album. What did you find so special about working with Sia?
Well, first, I went to write with her to record some of her songs, and we got on so well that after a couple of our sessions I asked if she’d write more of the album and if she’d come onboard with me as executive producer. She said “yes” right away. I really wasn’t sure if that would interest her, but long story short, she was on board right away. I gave her everything that I’d recorded, which at that point was already quite a lot of songs. And she wrote the title track, “Kiss Me Once,” which I just adore. But I had a bunch of songs already. Definitely not all of them, but I had quite a lot – at least, god, 40 or 50 songs – and she said that “Into the Blue” was the first single. Sure enough, that was the first single.
She’s written for some of the biggest artists today, and she’s dialed in and knows what’s happening at the moment – I think she also knows what’s about to happen – so she’s really just perfect. And she’s an Aussie, and she’s a girl, and I’m a great admirer of her writing, and of how she breaks some of the rules and how she does things the way she wants to do them. I have so much respect for that. So I’m a bit of an uber fan, and now I can say that I’m a friend as well. It’s really just a great, great result.
I can see this album being the one that finally helps our straight American friends understand how amazing you are.
(Laughs) That would be lovely!
Was collaborating with Enrique Iglesias, Pharrell and Sia an intentional move to help build a more mainstream audience in North America?
Not really, but it might have been the intention of my new management! (Laughs) Roc Nation has a lot of connections, and they’re able to call someone like Pharrell and say, “Hey, have you got any time? We have Kylie and we want to get her with you.”
I think we did what I normally do, which is work with some of the best and most dependable pop writers and producers. And I work with some new and upcoming people on this album – someone like MNEK, and someone left field like Ariel (Rechtshaid) – so it’s got all the same elements that I would have on a good album of mine. But I don’t know – I just think that everything feels a little more … I don’t know the word for it. It just feels right.
Will you finally do a full-fledged tour of the States? I’m not talking just a dozen dates, but a full tour.
You know, I would love to. The last couple of times that I have toured I have done shows in the States, but the first time (in 2009) was because I really ran out of excuses. I mean, I just kept saying “I can’t because my show is huge,” and logistically and financially we couldn’t make it happen. Then I finally stomped my stiletto and said, “I have to go; I have to connect to the people who have supported me thus far.” So I would, of course, love to travel to more cities, see more of the U.S. – and yeah, bringing my A-show to the States would be fantastic.
Make it happen, Kylie.
I’ll stomp the other stiletto!
Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, who worked with you on your last studio album, 2010’s “Aphrodite,” told Attitude magazine that you recorded enough songs with him over the years for an entire album.
Jake’s always getting me in trouble!
He said he’s gonna leak that album.
(Laughs) Yeah, well, if it ever happens I know whose door I’ll be knocking on. You know, I love him so much I probably couldn’t even be mad at him.
What are the odds these tracks could surface?
It’d be really good to do as a mixtape or something. If they were pressed and finished, then yeah. It’s different when things are leaked that are not where you want to get them, but I love the idea that these little morsels are around.
You have always been a proponent for equal marriage, but Australia, your home soil, still doesn’t legally recognize marriage for gay couples. In December 2013, the court ruled against same-sex marriages. What are your thoughts on the ban preventing gay people from getting married in Australia?
As always, I support gay marriage. I feel like it will happen eventually, but wouldn’t it be great if it happened sooner rather than later? I just came from Australia where they had Mardi Gras and it actually struck me when I was there, because I did Mardi Gras a couple of years ago – and I also did it in the mid-’90s – and I thought, “Wow, it’s so fortunate that people can express themselves that way.” It seems ironic and a bit backwards that marriage isn’t fully embraced with that.
For over 25 years, you’ve successfully navigated the pop music scene and influenced a legion of stars. From your own experience, what does it take to be a pop icon and maintain not just your longevity but your sanity?
Hmm, sanity? Oh god. Keep your feet on the ground. Keep dreaming. Try and take care of yourself. Yeah, it’s somewhere in between being realistic and being a dreamer.