Pic: William Baker
When curly-mop teen Kylie Minogue first burst onto the 80’s pop scene fresh from starring in Australian soap operas, all signs pointed to a brief musical career limited to a handful of cheesy hits. How wrong could we have been?
Two decades and 70 million albums later her career is as stellar as ever – and Kylie has become international pop-royalty and a bone-fide gay icon.
Her 2000 smash Spinning Around signalled the adult re-birth of the star, who has continued to produce the sexy and feel-good dance music so loved by her fans.
She’s a breast cancer survivor, is happily involved with hunky Spanish model Andres Valencoso and has only become more interesting and vibrant in her 40’s.
For her latest offering, Aphrodite (her fifth UK number one album), Kylie teamed up with producer Stuart Price (who came to prominence for his work on Madonna’s Confessions on a Dancefloor). The two clearly have chemistry – producing a can’t-stop-listening, smile-inducing, hip-shaking musical experience. She and producer Stuart Price talk about the new album and channelling Dolly Parton…
Congratulations Kylie, studio album number 11. How does that make you feel?
Kylie: It is kind of unbelievable. I thought the tenth album, X, was a benchmark but this one has just been amazing. I wouldn’t care what number you called it. It’s been the most amazing experience.
This is your studio Stuart, is this where the album was recorded?
Stuart Price: Essentially we finished the record here but the album was actually recorded over a couple of countries and a few studios; but we used this studio as a kind of base for everything. It was like the home of the record.
K: Yeah, this is where everything came together.
SP: I think it was important for us to make a record that sounded like it was a moment in time, that came from the same place, from the same voice, from the same heart.
K: The same time capsule
I guess you need that cohesive sound on an album?
K: Well for me this was a first, to have an Executive Producer. It was just the best experience, and funnily enough I think it’s the most cohesive album I’ve had since the beginning of my career, back in the PWL days, where by its very nature made it cohesive. There’s a lot to be said for working with different producers and trying different stuff which has worked really well for me in the past but I definitely wanted someone to tie this together as Stuart has done so beautifully … so that it existed as a real body of work.
What was it about this album and this project that made you want to do it differently to before?
K: The idea (to do it differently) was at the forefront of my mind on this album because I’d had a little niggle with the previous two albums. But the added reason that all of this came around was because of our dear friend Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters, who was working in this very studio, as I had started recording my album in various studios around the world. He praised Stuart highly and loves me dearly, and basically pestered me and said “you’ve got to do this, it’ll be so amazing!”, so I’ve got much to thank Jake for.
Do you regard this album as a return to the dance floor? Or did you never leave?
K: Uh, it’s been described as a return to the dance floor; I don’t think I ever totally left but it is a return to form I’d say.
SP: Maybe you were in the “chillout room” for a while.
K: Maybe. In one room or the other, but now you walk in the door and there it is.
This is a much lighter album, was that some sort of reaction to the darker times that you had been through?
K: I think a lot of what I do now is, in some way, coloured by the experience I had with illness. I guess I was just feeling like expressing joy at this point, I’d written songs more about that period in my life either on or for the last album, so I didn’t feel like going through those again; this was about this moment, this time, and what a happy experience this has been for me.
And speaking about a theme, what’s your relationship with love at the moment?
K: Jeez! That’s a massive question! A lot of people question why so many pop songs are about love, why operas are so written, why paintings are painted, why we cry during really silly commercials. Love in all its various forms challenges us all the time and I guess you could say this was a little love affair with this album. I loved coming to work and I loved working with Stuart, I think that feeling comes through on the album.
SP: Love is always a great muse for writing songs. I think also you realise that if you’ve felt something then someone else has probably felt it too, and they may have felt it in a different way but there’s a connection there. So it’s a great way of exorcising demons but it’s also a really great way of celebrating stuff as well.
What was the most fun that you had on the record?
SP: Well what you probably can’t see is that by mine and Kylie’s feet there’s a little six foot square area that was designated the ‘dance zone’. That was when you knew a song was right, and you knew that it was saying what we wanted to say
It’s funny how it comes out on a record, even though you can’t necessarily perceive it there’s always a feeling you get when you listen to something.
SP: You can’t lie to the listener and also you can hear someone smiling when they sing. You can feel and hear on the record when the heartbeat is comfortable and not anxious. With every song, if we weren’t having a good time, we pressed the stop button.
Looking For An Angel, Cupid, Aphrodite… Do you think there’s a celestial feel to the album?
K: There is something of a celestial feel throughout the album, definitely not on every track but I think we tapped into that, on the first song we did together Looking For An Angel. Personally, I’m always attracted to those ethereal, starry, universal ideas
SP: Maybe because you are one! Just throwing it out there… everyone’s thinking it… I’m just saying it!
How did you decide which tracks to include on the album?
K: We’d both be listening in our own world and there’d be the point in the song when the hands would go up! Hands up – good reaction. And of course there was the “Dolly Parton Litmus Test”.
SP: It worked!
K: It did! The soon to be trademarked and copyrighted “Dolly Parton Litmus Test” is a way of, testing a song’s viability as a song without production. He’d get his acoustic guitar out and we’d sing.
SP: Well it wasn’t quite singing it was more of a performance.
SP: Kylie does the best Dolly Parton impersonation there is on the planet, ever! We figured out that if that worked for any song, and we could see Dolly doing it; then on top of that we could sit down with a guitar and do it like that as well – the song was probably destined for good things.
Was this one of the most fun albums you’ve ever made then?
K: Yep. Without a doubt!