Kylie’s Kiss And Tell
Spring is thankfully upon us, and if you’re seeking a soundtrack to complement the process of climbing out of the deep-freeze hell that the Polar Vortex hath wrought, Kylie Minogue’s Kiss Me Once seems tailor-made for the task.
The Australian pop queen spent the better part of last year recording the bulk of her 12th studio album in America—much of it was done in sunny Los Angeles, to be exact—and from soaring opener “Into The Blue” to equally upbeat closing number “Fine” (sample lyric: “It’s gonna be okay, another day will come / turn your face into the sun”), it’s obvious that this era for Minogue is all about optimism.
To help shape Kiss Me Once, Minogue turned to fellow Aussie Sia Furler, who’s just as adept at penning her own vocal hooks (“Titanium,” “Wild Ones”) as she is at whipping up memorable compositions for other artists (Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts”). The two shared executive producer duties on the album.
“I think she’s a great girl,” Minogue says of Furler. “It meant a lot to have someone [in that role] who comes from an artist’s point of view, as well. She’s a girl and she’s an artist so I felt like we could relate really well.”
Furler also put on her writing cap for the project. The results are campy dubstep romp “Sexercize” and “Kiss Me Once,” a glorious highlight washed in synths, bells and, yes, more lyrical positivity (“Me and you, baby, we made it through / me and you, we’ve got some lovin’ to do,” Minogue coos sweetly on the infectious chorus).
“I remember when Sia and I recorded that, we both felt it had a bit of old Kylie, of classic Kylie in there,” Minogue says of the album’s title track. “The delivery is different, definitely. But there’s something about it that felt classic to me.”
Of course, classic and Kylie are two terms that go hand in hand. After all, Minogue has been cranking out feel-good pop for 27 years, starting with her tenure as the megastar of the Stock Aitken Waterman hit factory and carrying on through later explorations into R&B, edgy dance, filtered disco and even indie rock territories.
“Actually, most things I do these days—a lot of the photo shoots for different magazines that are going to be coming out soon—I feel like I’m self-referencing most of the time,” Minogue says. “I’ll say, ‘Oh, my God—I did this in ’91. I did this in ’87. This is so 2001.’ It’s crazy, but it’s kind of cool.”
For the Kylie fanatics reading this, I’ll describe the feel of Kiss Me Once in terms you’ll get right away: It’s more X than it is Aphrodite. This is Minogue expanding her sound and working with new collaborators while retaining the essence of what makes a Kylie song a Kylie song. Some of the names on board for the creative ride are Enrique Iglesias, London songwriter MNEK, producer Ariel Rechtshaid and the inescapable Pharrell Williams.
Minogue describes the opportunity to enter the studio with Pharrell as “a dream come true.” Together the pair came up with the slinky disco number “I Was Gonna Cancel,” which, like “Kiss Me Once,” is full of beats and bells. But it was a song that almost didn’t happen.
The studio time was booked, but Minogue nearly called the whole thing off because she was having, she admits, “just one of those day,” in her personal life—so much so that when Pharrell walked up to greet her on their first day together, she broke down in tears in front of him. “The happy part of the story is that he wrote ‘I Was Gonna Cancel,’” Minogue says. “I think he loved it because he had very real subject matter in that moment to write about.”
The first taste of Kiss Me Once, “Into The Blue,” arrived in January as the album’s lead single. Shooting the song’s music video allowed Minogue to both employ her acting chops and do some on-screen improvisation with French actor Clément Sibony.
“Nothing was really scripted, so little things like the puppets or picking a rose out of the vase and using that as a prop…we just kind of found whatever we could,” Minogue explains. “But he was fantastic and it didn’t really feel like work. It was a great day.”
The “Into The Blue” visual plays out like a cinematic throwback to the French New Wave, something Minogue says she and director Dawn Shadforth were referencing.
“The tone of the video was really great, and just about every time I see it, at the end I say, ‘It’s so romantic! I wanna be that girl!’” Minogue says, laughing.
The hopeful vibe of Kiss Me Once is likely reflective of the new developments in Minogue’s own world. In 2013, the singer joined the artist roster under the management division of Jay Z’s Roc Nation. She’s also followed in the footsteps of her sister and onetime U.K. X Factor judge, Dannii Minogue, by taking on a new gig as a coach for the Australian and British versions of The Voice.
“I called my sister before I signed on,” Minogue says. “I told her I was thinking about joining The Voice and what does she think about that? She thought that I would really like the experience. I don’t think she was nervous about me doing it, but I was nervous about me doing it. I was quite anxious. I didn’t know if I would like it. I didn’t know if I’d be good at it. But where I had nerves, she just had total confidence and really supported me all the way.”
It’s hard to imagine one of pop’s most enduring icons being intimidated by much of anything at this point, but realizing that even she gets butterflies now and then somehow adds to her cool factor. And really, they don’t come much cooler than Kylie.
Kiss Me Once is out now. Follow Kylie on Twitter: @kylieminogue
Read more of our chat with Kylie in the new April/May issue of Instinct—out now! Instinct is available at Barnes & Noble, at iTunes for the iPad and iPhone or through our subscription services at (888) 45-INSTINCT or through our online store here.