As new album 'Aphrodite' is released
Kylie Minogue by William Baker

When the love goddess Aphrodite emerged into life, she arose from the foam of the sea floating into our consciousness on a scallop shell and a crest of an azure wave.

At least, that’s what Hesiod wrote. But what the hell has Greek legend got to do with the 5’1” pop power pack that is Kylie Minogue? The answer is as short as her measuring stick: everything.

Life may sometimes imitate art but in this ever-rotating pop carousel, legend brings you a lot closer to the truth. One such legend is sitting coquettishly in front of us, looping her long silver necklace round her index finger as we tackle the transient subject of reinvention.

None embody reinvention with as much prowess as Kylie Minogue. Over a career spanning three decades we’ve watched our own Aussie Tinkerbell morph in front of our very eyes. You name it, Kylie’s done it: picking fights in her overalls as spunky Charlene in Neighbours, romancing heartthrob Jason Donovan, hooking up with svengali Pete Waterman before jilting him at the factory-altar and running off with INXS hell-raiser Michael Hutchence, cropping her hair and drowning in a Millais lake like a translucent Ophelia at the bequest of morose blues man Nick Cave…and that’s before she pissed off her fans with her indie Deconstruction antics before winning them back again with a fifty pence pair of gold lamé hot pants and a Paula Abdul cast-off. And then there was that cancer ordeal…

It’s been quite a ride…and yet it always comes back to that re-emerging goddess of love. She just so happens to be the title of Kylie’s eleventh studio album - a confident return-to-disco-form that is guaranteed to reignite the dance floor at her beloved G*A*Y.

Broached with the parallels between her own return to the chart and the foam-arisen namesake from which her comeback album is named and the answer is a euphoric: “Yeah!” The cheer is met by a telling pause. “And really being aware of love in all its different forms. In difficult times…” her voice falters. “Saying ‘dark times’ sounds so weekly mag…”

But it’s an apt description…
Well, it is. Let’s go with ‘dark times’. You do reach out for any kind of positive energy, positive things, positive information; and when you lay that bare, love becomes very evident. If Aphrodite rises from the sea, and becomes a goddess of love - it’s like being given a second chance.

Eleven albums in, where would you say you’re at right now? Are you in a pretty good place?
In trouble? In a fix! How did I get in this position again? No, I do feel like I’m in a good place and it was amazing to be in the studio. And it worked. It was easy. I was fun. I know what I can do, I know what I can’t do, and I don’t stress about what I can’t do.

How long has it taken you to get to that point?
It really has taken this long. When I did that Showgirl tour [Showgirl: The Homecoming Tour resumed in November 2006 after lengthy treatment for breast cancer] I was really still at the point of being almost superstitious about doing things right, and then of course I was ill and everything changed after that and then I realised…I got back on stage…and I thought, you know what? If I still want to do it after all of that, it comes from within. I shouldn’t fight it and I shouldn’t berate it.

Three years in the making, ‘Aphrodite’ has been described by her own label Parlophone as a return to her “dance-floor roots”. Along for the ride are co-collaborators Calivin Harris, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Brit singer-songwrtiter Nerina Pallot and executive producer Stuart Price. As is now expected and accepted with any Kylie record released, the collaboration list is both lengthy and eclectic. It’s a recording process that she is clearly comfortable with. Yet one question remains as we discuss the process of handpicking each song for the album…

At what point do those tracks actually feel like yours and not somebody else’s?
There is a point. I guess it would depend. I suppose I could illustrate it with, some songs on this album where I recorded them much earlier like ‘Better Than Today’ or ‘Aphrodite’ - which I recorded with Nerina Pallot and Andy Chatterley who are both just ridiculously lovely and talented. That was a big difference: between learning a song and getting to know people that day who you’re in the studio with, as opposed to having time to live with it. That’s when it really felt like mine. And then when I do it on stage, it takes on another life.

Bearing in mind Elvis didn’t write the majority of his songs, do you find it strange that there is such a preoccupation with whether you write your own material or not?
I think there used to be, and now I love the process. I maintain that the best song is the one that ends up on the album. So whether I’ve written it or I haven’t, I’m very comfortable with both. But I’ve had some pretty amazing credits which I’m really proud of!

Continuing on that ‘credibility’ thread - Michael Eavis has ruled you out of headlining Glastonbury. How important is it for you to headline Glastonbury - or indeed any festival - and has it anything to do with wanting to be a ‘credible’ artist?
I don’t know if he’s ruled me out in general because I have been asked to do it.

Returning to the pop scene this year and so much has changed - for one, the chart is heavily dominated by an army of female artists half your age. Do you feel aligned to them, or in a different ball game altogether?
I’m a fan. I’m straight on iTunes buying albums - Ellie Goulding, I think she’s phenomenal. It does feel laden with girls at the moment but I think that’s a good thing.

You once said that Madonna made it difficult for you as an original artist. Christina Aguilera has recently come under huge flack for “mimicking” Lady GaGa. Do you think GaGa has made it difficult for you once again, and for everyone else?
It’s like there was the musical landscape and she just landed like a meteor and put a huge great dent in it, and everyone around that - the dust has come off on everyone else. I mean, I’ve had the same thing: ‘Kylie’s gone GaGa’, when I know myself, I’ve had pretty radical looks. Especially on the ‘X’ album [2007] - I did all of them. But I didn’t land like a meteor. So, unfortunately, a lot of us are suffering at the hands of that. But what can you do? She is a phenomenon.

Words by Kat Lister
Photos by William Baker


Clash Magazine Issue 52

This article appears in the 52nd issue of Clash Magazine. Pick it up in stores from July 1st.

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