Interview: Kylie Minogue

2010-07-14 15:44
Kylie (photo: William Baker)

Congratulations Kylie, studio album number 11. How does that make you feel?

K: 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.

What was it about this album and this project that made you want to do it differently to before?

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.
Stuart Price: 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.

What about the tracks themselves, were there an excess number of tracks? And how did you pull them together?

Hmm yes, there was! Trying to decide which tracks made it needs a highly technical device which you find in studios like this - the whiteboard.
S-P: There wasn’t really an excess of tracks because we were always conscious to evaluate stuff and say “is this right or is this wrong”.
K: There reached a turning point where we said “ok no more writing – let’s just focus on what we’ve got”.
S-P: There were ‘diamonds in the rough’ and there were things which felt like they should probably never have worked, but we would look at stuff again and say “well that wasn’t really happening last week but let’s try it again and change the style of the song”. Again that was the (advantage of) having everything here. We could open stuff back up and put it on the operating table.
K: We had that freedom to bring the song back that we felt like doing that day.
S-P: We tried not to do track+vocal=song. We said “how can we take it further - how can we make one + one = three - how can we bring this all together in a new and exciting way”. And that meant that a lot of the songs we had were worked on to get them to a higher level. It also meant that we didn’t just do 50 or 60 songs and see which ones worked. It was a really focused, exciting, way of making a twelve track record.
K: … and you were really determined that it was twelve tracks, forty’ish minutes, being that precise about it. You really were quite strict.
S-P: I think we looked for the classic album format, where can you make a record which represents your artistic intention without ‘over egging’ it, and perhaps leaving you just asking for one more. Until we struck upon that kind of formula, and that feel, we kept going until we got it.

"Looking For An Angel", "Cupid", "Aphrodite" [are all song titles]… Do you think there’s a celestial feel to the album?

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.
S-P: Maybe because you are one! Just throwing it out there .. everyone’s thinking it .. I’m just saying it!
K: Thanks! What does that make this place? If I’m a star then you must be in my cosmos.
S-P: Recorded in Heaven.
K: Does it get any better than that?! Actually, it was like it was recorded in Heaven. S-P: A song that was done really early on was “Looking For An Angel”, it was the first thing we did together - but the two other songs: “Aphrodite” and “Cupid Boy” – “Aphrodite” Kylie did with Nerina Pallot and “Cupid Boy” was done with Luciano and the Swedish House Mafia. I think it’s a good way of illustrating that, of the songs on the record there’s stuff that Kylie wrote and stuff she wrote with other people. It shows that songs were selected because they fit into the blueprint of the record. Songs would come in or we’d hear something and it would have a resonance with the rest of the record. At that point it’s almost like there’s no way it couldn’t have been on the record. It was as if everyone was there at that time and was part of the same thing. And I think that’s a good example there, “Aphrodite”, “Cupid Boy”, “Looking For An Angel”, all songs written by combinations of different teams but all sharing that unifying idea of the album. Of course Aphrodite went on to be the album title.

This is a much lighter album, was that some sort of reaction to the darker times that you had been through?

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.

After speaking about a theme, what’s your relationship with love at the moment?
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.
S-P: Love is always a great muse for writing songs, but better a muse for being up and down and not plain sailing and I think that gives you ideas, or you have things that you learn over your life that start coming back out in lyrics. 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; more than anything all of the songs on this record in their various guises of love are about a celebration.

What was the most fun that you had on the record?

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'.
K: You guys are right in it! You feel some kind of movement?
S-P: That was when you knew a song was right, and you knew that it was saying what we wanted to say
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” which I’ve got to tell you has travelled, I’ve been asked so much about that.
S-P: It’s worked!
K: Shall we tell that little story?
S-P: You should yeah. That came from New York as well.
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.
S-P: Well it wasn’t quite singing it was more of a performance.
K: True.
S-P: 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. It became, as you say, a sort of litmus test for each song on the record. Subsequently it’s also gone on to be the thing that stays in your head - quite strongly as well!
K: It does!
S-P: And destined Kylie to do it at every dinner party she goes to from this point onwards to the end of time.
K: Then as a celebration when it was my last day coming in here to wrap up a couple of things, I took it upon myself to get two of the cheapest, gnarliest, got-nothing-to-do-with-a-natural-fibre-at-all outfits - cowboy and cowgirl. One was couriered here earlier in the day with a message - I can’t remember what I wrote - but just reading it you could tell it was in ‘that accent y’all!’
S-P: It mentioned grits in it somewhere as well.
K: It did mention grits. So by the time I got here later in the day, I did a quick change at the entrance and walked in to find my “cowboy” with Kenny Rogers blasting out of the stereo, then I came in and punched out a good old rendition of ‘Yeeeeeha!’ with “All The Lovers”, in “Dolly Parton Litmus Test” style.
S-P: We got the baked beans on the fire for that one!
K: That was one of our most fun moments. 

Was this one of the most fun albums you've ever made then?

Yep. Without a doubt!

The Aussie pop diva invites her producer Stuart Price round to chat about her celestial new chart-topping album, 'Aphrodite', the Dolly Parton litmus test and more.
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