The Kylie Interview: Secret Of My Success
On the eve of her induction to the ARIA Hall of Fame tomorrow night, Kylie Minogue is in a rare moment of reflection.
Unlike previous media campaigns, which have usually revolved around promoting a new album, concert tour, perfume, range of lingerie or bed sheets, for this interview with PS, there was no agenda.
Sitting in a private room of the Sheraton on the Park Hotel on Tuesday, elegantly dressed in a sleeveless smock embellished with mother of pearl buttons and embracing her recent transition to brunette, there is no question the star looks years younger than 43.
And yes, the much-scrutinised yet strikingly beautiful face does move and there are even a few faint lines on it, probably the result of her trademark toothy smile, which she offers with little prompting.
Yet underneath all the sequins and showbiz gloss, Minogue has managed to cling to a comparatively realistic and refreshingly humble sense of who she is and where she stands in the world.
WATCH: Singer Kylie Minogue is to be inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Here she talks to Andrew Hornery about her 25 year career and how she went from 'Not' to 'Hot'...
SHE'S THE ONE
She has sold nearly 70 million records, amassed a fortune conservatively estimated at more than $100 million and been awarded an OBE from the Queen.
Next year it will be 25 years since The Locomotion was released, her first single, which spent seven weeks at No.1 on the Australian charts, selling 200,000 copies.
At the time Neighbours was taking hold in Britain, and Minogue and her long-term manager Terry Blamey were soon on a plane to London to meet with the world's biggest pop hit factory: Stock, Aitken & Waterman.
But it almost didn't happen.
''Yes they forgot I was coming,'' laughs Minogue. ''We were there for about a week finding things to do. I was still on Neighbours at the time and it was difficult to secure time off. I think I was maybe recognised once or twice, people had not become quite so fanatical.
''We went to Harrods, on bus tours, to Madame Tussauds, then finally, on the last day, they wrote I Should Be So Lucky. I was completely stressed and went in there, sang it then flew straight back to Melbourne.''
What did she think of the song?
''I honestly cannot recall, it was so rushed I just did the recording and had to get … back to Melbourne.''
The song was her first British No. 1, and over the next two years her first 13 singles reached the British top 10.
Despite the success and at the tender age of 21 she yearned for more.
''For a lot of the beginning of my career I sort of translated what I knew from acting, where you are given your lines, you delivered your lines and were given direction. I did what was asked of me. I think that's why I fitted into the Stock, Aitken & Waterman mould quite well, but that's also what ended up frustrating me because I wanted to be more involved. I wanted to get another level of satisfaction out of it.''
Minogue's transition from pop puppet to dance floor sexpot is well documented, she attributes the awakening of her womanhood to her then lover, the late Michael Hutchence.
But there have been other influential characters too. In 1994 she agreed to record a duet with Nick Cave, which at the time was one of the music industry's most incongruous collaborations - the ''Singing Budgie'' being serenaded by the … ''Prince of Darkness''.
Where the Wild Roses Grow was a haunting and uncharacteristically melancholic track for Minogue. But it delivered the artistic credibility she yearned for and remains one of her personal favourites, as does ''great friend'' Nick Cave.
''I saw Nick not long ago in London. I always go in for cuddles when I see him. Maybe not many people would associate that with Nick Cave, but he has such a strong presence,'' Kylie says, smiling broadly.
''All of my experience with him was nothing short of beautiful, really beautiful. He was always very gentle with me. Knowing that he believed in me for such a long time before we recorded Wild Roses. It was several years prior that I heard he wanted to work with me. That meant to me he wasn't being post-modern or ironic, or having a laugh at me by doing this duet. He genuinely believed in me and still does … I will be forever grateful to him for that.''
Long hailed as a mistress of reinvention, when asked if she still has the power to surprise her audience, Minogue booms back: ''I hope so, for my sake!'' But she is the first to admit, not every risk has paid off.
''Doll, I have been hot … and not,'' she says. ''I think I just have to do what I do. I can only continue. There is no master-plan and I don't have a crystal ball.''
Her chameleon-like ability to morph into new phases in her career means she is constantly compared to pop's other queen of reinvention: Madonna.
Yet even after sharing the same pop sphere and living in the same city over such a long period, the pair barely know each other.
''I'm a massive Madonna fan. I've only met her briefly and we have some friends in common. A message will go back and forwards, she says 'hi' or I say 'hi','' she says, adding somewhat reverentially: ''How can you not love Madonna?''
By Andrew Hornery smh.com.au