Interview: Kylie Minogue Talks Sex, Pliés, and her New Album ‘Kiss Me Once’
By Colleen Quill
In a landscape of memes, flameouts, and one-hit wonders, Kylie Minogue’s music has kept people on the dance floor for over 25 years. Kiss Me Once marks her twelfth album, and while she is best known in the United States for her hits “The Loco-Motion” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, her catalog runs deep.
Prior to the release of Kiss Me Once, Minogue sold upwards of 70 million records around the world and has collected a GRAMMY along the way. Last year she decided to make a big change and part ways with her long time manager, Terry Blamey to sign up with Jay Z’s management team at Roc Nation.
While sonically Kiss Me Once contains some musical throwbacks to classic Kylie dance songs, her work with fellow Australian artist Sia brought out the sexier side of Kylie. Fresh off a performance on The Echo Music Awards and landing a number one for the remix of “Into the Blue,” Kylie caught up Radio.com for a few minutes from London, where she is currently a judge on The Voice: UK.
Radio.com: This is your 12th album, did that effect how you approached it? How has the recording process changed for you over the years?
Kyle Minogue: The recording process, finding the songs is not easier. It still takes a long time. Even the most experienced and hottest writers/producers, will attest to the fact that it takes a while. Compared to the early days for me, I’m really comfortable in the studio. I record really fast, my leads, my backing vocals and the harmonies. I’m kind of a like a machine doing that. So that part is definitely faster.
You now have an American based management company, Roc Nation; did you put more pressure on yourself to have an album that was more sonically different from past efforts?
I think it put the right amount of pressure on me. I signed with Roc Nation because I wanted to feel re-energized and have a new stimulus, to be introduced to new writers and producers, to be taken out of my comfort zone. I think it was the right amount, and anyone who’s heard the album I think we ended up in the right place. It’s a Kylie album. It would’ve really been a big mistake to be signed to Roc Nation and suddenly sound very different. So I think we’ve got the best of both worlds, at least I hope we have.
The Title Track “Kiss Me Once” is one of the tracks you worked with fellow Aussie Sia. What does it mean to you and how did that shape the overall album?
Seriously. I’m crazy about that song. When I rehearse it and perform it with my band we literally, we’re like ‘can we just nuke the other songs?’ because it really pleases us performing that song. For the album, and how it shaped it, not so much the songs on the album, but the visual identity of the album. I knew straight away ‘Kiss Me Once’ was the title. KMO and my initials are KM, so that was a nice little underlying thing. “Kiss Me Once” for me, makes me think of that first kiss that could change everything. And you can’t repeat it. It really is that special. Some people might think back to the first kiss of the person that their with, or think of the next first kiss when they meet that person. You say a lot without saying anything with one kiss.
How did you come to work with Sia and what was the advantage of having a female producer?
I had a few sessions in with Sia in just as for writing and recording sessions. I got along with her so well, and I admire her so much I invited her to come on board as co-executive producer, which she said yes, which was great delight It’s and relief for me, because I wasn’t sure if that was something she was interested in, but she was.
Once she was on board, which was right away, I gave her everything I had recorded, which, at that stage, was already a lot of songs. And, we just worked on that together. I would come back to London, do some more recording here and keep her in the loop. Having a female and Australian girl, one of the coolest girls I know, who has rewritten the rules of pop for herself, I’m in awe. I admire her so much, that she’s done things her way. She still really appreciates people like me, who are doing the frontline pop, going out there and selling ourselves and doing things the traditional way. It meant so much to me to have her talent, her love and enthusiasm, it was just brilliant.
Last year you released a book called Fashion. When you are choosing songs, do you envision what clothes capture the feeling of a song?
There might be a feeling. I’ll give two examples. ‘Beautiful’ I think would fit in the Hollywood section. The American Tour I had this beautiful Hollywood gown on and there was this amazing couch with gold panthers on either side. You imagine being in a stunning gown, something that’s simple, but dazzling. ‘Les Sex’ has turned out to be latex, the complete opposite. That’s what I thought about, and sometimes your initial instinct is the right one on that front.
The video for ‘Sexercise’ shows off your amazing physique and brings to mind another Australian in a body suit, Olivia Newton-John. Did you feel you were channeling the video for ‘Physical’ at all?
Magic words! We were channeling “Physical”; we were channeling Jane Fonda and also a video by Malcolm McClarren for Madame Butterfly, which was just fantastic. It’s all about girls wandering around in a sauna, so between those three, they were my references. The video is directed by a great Australian photographer and directed, Will Davidson, who took all of my references and made them a reality. Job done.
Any tips on how to warm up for “Sexercise?
[laughs] I’m the worst. I’m so bad at it; I don’t warm up for anything. I’m kind of just throwing myself in there. I’m surprised I was able even move the next day. I busted out some moves I didn’t even know I had to do. Just go to the ballet bar, and do a few plies.
You have a history of showing off your legs by going sans pants in your videos, shows and photos. Rihanna and Lady Gaga walk around on a day –to-day basis without bottoms, where do you think the line comes between art and costume?
I think it depends on who you are; someone like Gaga is living her life as art. I’m more traditional. When I get home I need to be Kylie, not in inverted commas, I just think it’s the same person I’ve always been. For me, it’s about putting on a show, not so much living the show, even if the two areas of your life do cross over a lot of the time.
As far as what a lot of the girls are doing, I’m such a supporter of other artists, particularly female artists; I know how hard it is. Sometimes you’re damned it you do, damned if you don’t, so you should do what feels right for you. Hopefully have good guidance around you, but I’m not around without pants. I think I’m past that point. It’s not for me, in videos okay sure.
You worked with Pharrell on “I Was Gonna Cancel”, born out of you having a bad day and were literally going to cancel on him. Has that since lead to you canceling less in general?
I don’t really cancel much at all, that’s the funny part. I push myself and I push myself to ridiculous limits so I don’t have to cancel. I hate letting people down. That’s unusual for me. I guess that’s why I didn’t cancel and I did turn up to work, I did embarrass myself by having a meltdown at the studio. I wouldn’t say it’s made me change my mind. I do think about it a lot when I look at my phone and it asks if you want to make the move or cancel. So I see the word ‘cancel’ a lot, I don’t press it a lot but I do see it a lot.
‘Les Sex’ lyrics play with sex or love, teasing and power. You’ve had a lot of sexy songs in the past. How do you draw the line between sexy & completely risqué?
I’m not interested in, as the French say it best, vulgaire. I naturally have playfulness. Any of the images, that I do, like the video for “Sexercise,” there’s a wink, that people know. People know my personality, that’s just where I take it to. I actively make those choices, but often that’s just naturally how it is. I’m thinking of the “Sexercise” video, we had to film a lot to get those shots and then it’s all about choices and which shots do you use. It could have been a very different video, one that I am proud of and that I don’t agree with. I try to work with people who are on the same page as me and have a similar aesthetic and understanding. I think it’s great to push the boat out when you can, but I would like to stay elegant with it.
With the word “sex” in three of the song titles on the album, are you feeling sexier?
Sex- ah. Am I? No, not officially. I suppose I have my moments. I have the most boring answer for this. Literally those songs were coincidence. When Sia and I were working on the album, she said
‘We haven’t got the sexy track. We don’t have the ‘Slow’ for this album yet. So, we recorded “Sexercise” and thought boom, that’s it, “Sexercise” thank you. And then a few weeks later, MNDR, delivered this fantastic track “Les Sex.” Sia contacted me saying I don’t mean to put a spanner in the works, but this song ‘Les Sex’ has come through and it’s really good, and it is really good, so we recorded ‘Les Sex.’ Then a couple of months later ‘Sexy Love’ came in, which is just disco dancehall fantastic, so I recorded that.
At this point, you don’t know which songs will make the album, so it was okay to have three songs with ‘sex’ in the title. As it turns out, they all made it on the album, so that’s that. I tried to change the title and double, tripled checked do I need all of these songs. And I do, because they do different things.
Your duet “Beautiful” with Enrique Iglesias appears on both of your albums. Should we be looking forward to a video? What is your definition of beautiful?
I think the song is beautiful. I always try to think of another word for it, but beautiful is the best description. I hope to make a video; we plan to make a video. When I heard that song, it was the end of a long day. I was in Paris running around doing a trillion things. And, I heard the song and I literally was stopped in my tracks, it really slowed time for me. I cried, I got teary. I was thinking of a past relationship, someone I just adored and someone, you really want them to know that they are beautiful and they still mean so much to you.
Over the years, in your live show and now on The Abbey Road Sessions, you’ve gotten to reinvent old favorites, stripped down and breathe a different life into them. Is there a track on Kiss Me Once you know would fit into that collection?
Oh, I don’t know. So far I’m thinking of them as they are. It takes some time for me to reinterpret songs. I think they need to live and breathe as they are. The reason I do change them on tour, because a lot of my audience, are regulars, they’ve been the show before and the show before. I try to change it up for them. I try to keep it fresh for them and for myself. This one, I don’t know, it could be as random as “Les Sex” being a different version. Time will tell.
What is the most essential element in a good remix?
Well, to make it different from the original obviously. For me, I love the Roger Sanchez remix of ‘Into The Blue’. I like them all, but I thought that one made me feel like I was in Ibiza, which is never a bad thing. Regardless of where I am, take me to Ibiza and I’m happy.