Thursday 16 August 2018

Showgirl strikes back: Princess of pop Kylie Minogue

As Kylie returns to Ireland this weekend, Eamon Sweeney catches up with the coolest Aussie in pop for an INSIDER exclusive

Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Kylie Minogue is in hysterics. We've seemingly just made the Princess of Pop explode by revealing what Síle Seoige infamously tweeted when the Aphrodite: Les Folies Tour came to Ireland in 2011.

Just to recap, the tweet in question read: "I may regret this tweet but I think I just came at the Kylie gig… seriously… that good."

"Aha-ha-ha-ha-ha!," Kylie shrieks. "Thank you for giving me an embarrassed laugh in the middle of my bus trip," Kylie eventually blurts after this cacophony of laughter.

"She has absolutely no need to be embarrassed about that," she excitedly continues. "That's amazing! Is she ready for the next one? Was it multiple? Is she going to be at the next show?

"If that is any indication of how fruity you all are, then bring on Dublin! Any time I've brought my tour to Ireland, it has always been an incredible experience and the audiences are amazing, but I haven't heard anything quite like that one before."

Kylie is in transit between Barcelona and Montpellier on the European leg of a 34-date Kiss Me Once world tour when she takes a call from INSIDER for her only Irish interview.

Kiss Me Once is no less than Minogue's 13th world tour in a career spanning three decades and 70 million album sales. The girl next door from Melbourne is much, much more than a mere pop star, but a bona fide icon. She is a cancer-surviving champion who entertains and inspires millions.

"I think I'm at 27 years [in the business], which is completely mind-blowing," Kylie reflects. "Thankfully, I barely know how to get my head around all that. I don't know how you measure success and interpret exactly how what you've done has travelled any more, to be honest.

"The really reassuring thing is that the songs are still very much at the very heart of it. How a song connects with people is what it's all about. That can never be replaced by Twitter, Instagram and any of that stuff, although I love incorporating all those elements into the process and whole package.

"I try putting material up every day to connect with fans, but doing a show is the pinnacle of it all and that will never change."

Kylie is in sparkling form, which she attributes to enjoying a fantastic tour.

"The shows have been going so well lately, so I'm always so grateful for them," she says. "At the end of a two-hour show, I kiss my hand and put it towards the sky. Then I kiss my hand again and put it towards the stage. I always want to bless that moment."

Of course, a Kylie show isn't any old run of the mill gig, but an eye-popping extravaganza featuring a back catalogue full of hits, a deep love and appreciation of the power of performance and a uniquely singular passion for fashion.

Kylie's style is indisputably as iconic as her music. Who could forget Kylie in gold hot pants cavorting around in the 'Spinning Around' video?

"Around that time, it became such a big deal I wish I could have sent the hot pants out to do press," she jokes.

Jean Paul Gaultier went one further and cited Kylie as a muse. The French haute couture figurehead and heavyweight household-name designer also salutes her work ethic. "Kylie is incredibly patient during the fittings, which can be very long," Gaultier says. "She can stand still for hours in the studio and is always smiling and positive."

"The truth is, one of my least favourite things in the world is doing sittings," Kylie says. "They just go on and on and on," Kylie confesses. "But having said that, doing a sitting with Jean Paul Gaultier is a girl's dream come true. He is such an amazing craftsman and person and so creative. However, you have to have plenty of snacks and an abundance of patience."

So much for any perceptions that life for Kylie must be a non-stop merry-go-round of glitter and glamour. It is not just the glitterati of the fashion world who love to work with Kylie, as she also stars in the newly released and lavishly praised Nick Cave movie 20,000 Days on Earth.

"20,000 Days is a genius representation of Nick," Kylie enthuses. "When he asked me to get involved, I couldn't quite grasp what it would be. It is part documentary with a dreamscape and people coming in and out of nowhere. I've never seen anything like it. I was thrilled to be part of it and it was a really bold move on his part to be telling his life story.

"I hadn't seen the film for a long time, but eventually when did see it, I was incredibly inspired," Kylie gushes. "What I love about Nick is that he is still searching. He is constantly searching for his truth as a man and an artist. He really opened up in that film.

"When we were shooting together, we had some rough guidelines to what he would ask me, but it was all quite freeform. He manages to get genuine truths from me because there is no barrier. Even though we are very different people and performers, and I don't have to explain why, we still have a lot in common. We're both from Melbourne, Australian and we've travelled very different roads, but there is something that just clicks.

"Nick has got a great sense of humour. He's no clown and he's not over the top with it, but my experiences with him are delightful. Recording 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' with him [in 1996] was very tender. The first time I met him was the day we recorded that song. Seeing as it was a murder ballad, it was more about acting the song rather than singing the song. I'm so grateful he came into my life. I really am."

Another Australian musician who looms large in Kylie's life is her late ex-boyfriend Michael Hutchence, whom she once called "her partner in life".

After dating Neighbours co-star Jason Donovan, Kylie started seeing the INXS frontman. Sadly, the singer was found dead in a hotel room in Sydney in 1997.

"I am happy to talk about Michael to a point," Kylie states. "I'm not going into too much personal detail, but I will say what a great man he was.

"I sing 'Need You Tonight' by INXS on this tour as a tribute to him and because it is such a great song. Actually, it is such an amazing song, you basically don't have to do anything with it. We tried some different variations, but in the end I deliver it in a very simple fashion. I always think of Michael and how much he would enjoy it when I sing it."

"It is funny that we're talking about Nick Cave as well, because it was Michael that first told me his friend Nick wanted to do a song with me," Kylie remembers. "Whenever we put together a show, my creative director and I shoot ideas back and forth to each other.

"We're not sure where the idea to do 'Need You Tonight' came from exactly, but we both hit upon it at the same time, which is probably partly to do with the fact that there was a two-part television series on INXS in Australia at the time.

"INXS had four albums back in the charts and were everywhere as part of this complete revival and re-appreciation of the band. I love performing 'Need You Tonight' for Michael."

In addition to being one of pop's most enduring phenomenons, Kylie has been heralded as the greatest gay icon of all time.

"Oh, I don't know about that!" she laughs. "There are plenty of those. I am very, very happy to be one of them, but I don't think anyone can take the crown at this stage."

This is just another measure of just how much love and affection the world at large has for Kylie. She is one of the most photographed women on the planet. London's Victoria & Albert Museum even dedicated an entire exhibition to Kylie in 2005. The only other musician to receive such treatment is the timeless chameleon of pop David Bowie.

There is no doubt that Síle Seoige won't be the only one looking forward to Kylie's Irish shows this weekend. Of course, even Kylie has a little Irish in her, as her father is from a fifth generation Australian family who possibly originated from Co Clare. Some readers might be familiar with the Minogue furniture stores in Carlow, Cashel, Midleton and Roscrea.

Kylie fondly recalls performing at Feile '95 in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork and duetting with Nick Cave on 'Where the Wild Roses Grow', which was an unexpected hit at the time.

"I think that was the first year I did any festivals," Kylie recalls. "I was kind of terrified. I didn't know what the reaction would be, but I loved it and I'd love to do it again. Doing festivals is a lot different to conventional shows. There is a lot in my show right now which would be severely restricted by a festival, but they were great for very different reasons. Right now, I feel like I have more of a grasp of where I am. I get to see my fans every night, or at least every second night when I'm on tour. Everything as regards performance is crystal clear. The rest of it is part exciting and part confusing.

"The music scene and industry has radically changed from when I started out. Just when I think I'm down with everything, or I've finally got it, something else comes up and there are even more things to do.

"I try to stay up to date, but I suppose I'm a little bit old school and a little bit new wave."

No matter which way the wind blows, or what fads and fashions come and go, we still can't get her out of her heads...

Kylie's Kiss Me Once tour comes to the 3Arena, Dublin, on Saturday and the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on Sunday

Irish Independent

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