I meet Kylie Minogue on an overcast Tuesday afternoon in the sumptuous surroundings of Blakes Hotel in South Kensington, London. I say a quick hello to her as she walks down the hall towards a hotel suite where TV cameras are waiting. Her long time manager Terry Blamey pulls me aside.
“Have you heard the album yet?” he asks. I tell him that I’ve only heard what has been doing the rounds on the internet. He whisks me upstairs to a hotel suite, sits me down and plugs in his iPod dock. “I’ll be back in an hour. Order anything you want on room service,” he says, and the door closes.
I toy with the idea of ordering up big on the Minogue credit card, but instead opt for a bottle of Perrier. I gaze out the window as I listen to Aphrodite, Kylie’s eleventh studio album. The grey rooftops of London and the even greyer sky above seem an odd backdrop for such a euphoric record. Even on first listen the overarching theme is abundantly clear – this album is all about love.
Before too long Terry is back, and together we head down to the hotel bar where I am reunited with Kylie. In many ways, she is much as you expect her to be. She’s ever so friendly, tiny, and impeccably presented in a red fitted dress, chunky wedge heels and gold jewellery. Her hair falls effortlessly past her shoulders. She’s halfway through telling someone a story, which involves her doing a few impromptu dance moves in the middle of the bar. The two old ladies at the table nearby don’t bat an eyelid. We take a seat next to each other in a tastefully lit corner surrounded by cushions and silk. I tell her I’ve just been upstairs listening to the album.
“How do you feel?” she asks. I tell her I love it.
“Spuds and sparkles!” she says, holding a clenched fist out to me. “Come on!” She grabs my hand, I form a fist, and she teaches me a secret handshake. ‘Spuds’ – we punch fists, ‘sparkles’ – we trail our fingers through the air. “Sparkle it out y’all,” she grins.
Kylie tells me that she’s in a ‘really good space’ at the moment, and it shows. Aphrodite has hit written all over it, she’s in a great relationship with 32 year old Spanish model Andres Velencoso, she’s about to become an aunt for the third time and if her music, home furnishings and fragrances are anything to go by, she seems to have the Midas touch. I ask her how people have been responding to All The Lovers so far.
“Amazingly,” she beams. “It felt right. I had faith in my conviction that it was the right move.” She graciously gives credit to the album’s executive producer Stuart Price, who has worked with the likes of Madonna and The Killers, saying that his involvement made all the difference.
“Working with Stuart was just so lovely. I was practically praying that he would be able to do this project with me, and when he came onboard it all started to make sense. He made it a happy experience, because it wasn’t like that in the beginning. I was a bit confused and bewildered and I thought ‘oh no, I don’t know what I’m doing’.”
Kylie loves her latest video, directed by Joseph Kahn, in which hundreds of gorgeous boys and girls strip down to their underwear and make out with one another, literally forming an orgiastic pyramid with Kylie at the top. She calls it ‘genuine, lovely’ and a ‘wonderful representation’ of the intentions behind the song.
Talking about the video triggers a memory for Kylie, and she tells me about a photo she recently saw on Twitter from gay pride in West Hollywood.
“Someone got about maybe nine mannequins, and they’re in the pyramid formation with me at the top, and they’ve got the outfits done, and it’s on a rooftop, and they’ve used lyrics from the song too – “don’t be frightened… if love is really good you just want more”. I loved it. I just thought ‘brilliant!’” Kylie tells me that she would dearly love to see an ‘All The Lovers’ flash mob. I remind her of a recent Sydney flash mob, where a crowd of gays, led by drag queen Joyce Maynge, took over Bondi Beach as Your Disco Needs You played. “Yes, I remember that! That was great. I mean, drag queens on the beach, genius.”
Conversation turns to fame, and whether Kylie has ever googled herself. “Yes, I have. It’s a dangerous thing to do. Now there’s Twitter – it took me a while to get going on that, but I’m quite good at it now. It saves me from having to go down the dangerous road of googling, which can be so disheartening.” I ask her how she copes with the endless chatter out in cyberspace and the tabloids. “I don’t even go to the chatter. I mean, if there’s a news story I’ll read it online, but I will get to the end of the article and I refuse to go any further.” She pauses for breath and stares blankly, as though recalling an unpleasant memory. “Yeah, it’s just not good for you… at all. So yeah, I stop there.”
When asked about her biggest career highlight, her thoughts return to the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“It seems like a long time ago now, but the Olympics were pretty amazing. It was pre 9/11, and sure there are always security issues with Olympics, but our country had the luxury of being a really joyful place to be. You take the energy of Australia, the energy of Sydney, the energy of the arena – and then to be at the centre of that even for just a few moments… it was kind of legendary. I did feel very proud to be there.”
I tell Kylie one of our readers wants to know her thoughts on gay marriage. “Well, I think it should be allowed! I mean, how many countries have caught up with it by now?” I draw a blank, and tell her ‘a handful, but that the UK is a great example of a society that has moved forward in this direction and it’s worked’. “Exactly, the earth didn’t cave in. It’s like what’s represented in the All The Lovers video. If it’s love, it’s love. And that’s it. That’s all that matters.”
It’s hard to argue with that.