Pop icon Kylie Minogue talks to us about the escapism of disco music and her four-decade career

In a candid chat, the Australian singer opens up about her new music, fashion mantra, beauty secrets and more

Anagha M Published :  31st December 2021 05:00 AM   |   Published :   |  31st December 2021 05:00 AM
Kylie Minogue. Pic: Denys Dionysios

Kylie Minogue. Pic: Denys Dionysios

The undisputed queen of dance-pop Kylie Minogue is back doing what she does best — making disco music. Her songs Spinning Around, Slow and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head were THE definitive club anthems of the ’90s and early 2000s. A four-decade career has only strengthened the Australian singer’s status in the pop world. Her album Disco (which was released last year), and its new version Disco: Guest List Edition are fueling the ongoing disco revival we are seeing in the world of music right now. With songs such as A Second to Midnight, Can’t Stop Writing Songs About You and Kiss of Life, the new album has previously unreleased remixes as well as fan favourites such as her collaboration with Dua Lipa, Real Groove (Studio 2054 Remix). The songs have an unmissable ’80s vibe and will leave you hankering for the dance floor.  

The 53-year old Grammy-Award winner may be a global pop legend, but is warm and friendly in our interview where she talks more about her music, her battle with cancer and lets us in on her beauty secrets. Excerpts: 

Tell us about DISCO: Guest List Edition and how is it different from the previous album, Disco?
For me, the Guest List Edition is like the icing on top of the cake. The bulk of the work (writing, recording and promoting) for the previous album, Disco, was done and it had found its way in the world and into many hearts. I was done with the ‘paddling,’ and was enjoying riding the wave. It was so much fun to have the opportunity to work with the incredible artistes who joined me on this record.

The album cover

Songs like Spinning Around and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head are so iconic. What do you think sets your music apart?
I guess a good song can stand the test of time. I’m so grateful to have songs that do this in different ways. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head still sounds modern and yet is very much symbolic of that early 2000 era for me. A song like The Loco-Motion sounds so retro, so it has a real sense of nostalgia to it.  

We’re seeing a pop-disco revival right now. What do you think is the reason for this? 
Pop music by its very nature is cyclic. So disco will come and go. At the start of the lockdown, there seemed to be a disco revival happening. But the albums that came out at that time were made before the pandemic or, in the case of mine, had already started. And my album was already titled DISCO.  So yes, I think there is a revival, but also that the genre has been received even more positively now, as so many of us enjoy the escapism and nostalgia of this kind of music.

At a time where we only knew of American or British acts in India, you were the first Australian to break on to the scene. What was that journey like?
I was?  Wow, I didn’t know that!  My musical journey is a bit back to front. I had studied some music and singing as a kid and then started acting at age 11. When I was 17, I made a demo cassette with three songs on it.  I thought it would be handy for acting roles when they needed to know if you could sing.  Somewhere in my mind (or dream?) I imagined what it would be like to become a singer. A pop singer!  
Then while I was 19 and acting on an Australian soap opera called Neighbours, the cast performed a couple of songs for a football fundraiser and for one of them, I sang The Loco-Motion. A music show producer at the same TV station came up to me after and said, ‘You should release a record!’  So, I recorded a demo of The Loco-Motion and then signed with a record label. I immediately had a number one song for seven weeks and the biggest selling song of the ’80s in Australia. What I didn’t have was any performance experience so I basically had to learn on the job. That definitely provided more than its share of challenges and surprises.

Looking back, which moment stands out in your 20-year career? When did you feel, ‘wow I’ve 
made it!’?

The closest I have come to that feeling was performing in The Legend Slot at Glastonbury in 2019.  It was the biggest gig of my life and it meant even more to me as I was supposed to headline there in 2005 but had to pull out because I was diagnosed with cancer and had to be treated. So, 14 years later to be on that stage and cele-brate over 30 years of connection with fans, along with this personal triumph over disease, made it a very emotional and power-ful show.  So, in various ways at that show, I did feel like ‘I’ve made it!’

You look the same today at 53, as you did in Spinning Around. We just have to ask, what’s the secret?
Just keep moving!  Haha! No, if only it were that easy.  There are lots of secrets, let’s call them ‘tricks of the trade’ and I’ve learnt many of them along the way. Good glam, lights, good team, good angles and styling.  It’s smoke and mirrors but I do try to take good care of myself too. Some of me is still quite ‘Spinning Around 2000’ but obviously some of me is very much now ‘Disco 2021.’ I try not to be overwhelmed by pressure to be ‘forever youthful.’ I feel I have pretty much the same enthusiasm for life and for the job, if not more!

What is your fashion mantra?
I would like to poach Coco Chanel’s style rule: Before you leave the house, take one thing off. But my fashion mantra is to dress to be you. Dress the way you feel good. I will go to the nth degree to make a show outfit work.  It’s complicated, un-comfortable, even dangerous sometimes, but then there’s the pay off. On the flip side — comfies back at home!

You’re a cultural and fashion icon, especially within the LGBTQ+ community. Do you have any message for fans in India?
I believe in you and thank you for your true and long-term support and the joy you bring me.

How was Christmas this year?
I had a quiet Christmas this year. The focus was on getting some rest.

The pandemic has given a lot of people a new perspective on life. What is your take away?  
I learnt that the days tick along, if we are lucky, and we mustn’t take that for granted. Be present in your life.