Kylie Minogue Discusses Pharrell, Sia And New Album ‘Kiss Me Once’: Idolator Interview
Pop Kylie. Indie Kylie. Sex Kylie. Goddess Kylie. Over the decades, the musical force that is Kylie Minogue has offered us one variation or another of her on-stage image while still maintaining enough of a “girl next door” likeability that we truly wish she would just move in down the block already. Listening to her upcoming 12th album Kiss Me Once (out March 18), however, conjures up a new persona for the Australian pop queen: Comforting Kylie.
Making the album wasn’t an easy road for the singer, by her own admission. And once countless tracks were done after a year of working with a multitude of collaborators, there came the arduous task of whittling them all down to one cohesive, Kylie-worthy set. Knowledge of that melts away, though, when listening to the record, as what ultimately shines through on Kiss Me Once is the radiant positivity, particularly with the optimistic lyrics that fill songs like lead single “Into The Blue,” the uplifting Ariel Rechtshaid composition “If Only” and the album’s title track, on which Minogue worked with the LP’s executive producer Sia Furler.
Kylie spent time cluing us in to what the process of piecing together her first studio album in four years was like, from switching her management over to Roc Nation to working with talents ranging from hit maker Pharrell Williams to French actor Clément Sibony. Head below for the full Idolator interview with Kylie Minogue.
Hello, Kylie! I’ve given Kiss Me Once about five full listens ahead of our little chat.
KYLIE MINOGUE: Alright. So things can’t be too bad?
Definitely not. The song that’s jumping out immediately is the title track.
KM: Aw, that’s brilliant. Yeah, I think it’s got a lot to offer, that track. It’s probably the most old school Kylie, I would say.
Sia co-wrote “Kiss Me Once” and co-executive-produced the whole album along with you. How did this collaboration with her come about?
KM: We worked together a couple of times — with her as a writer and me looking at some tracks she had already written, and also doing some writing together. I got on with her so well. Around about what turned out to be the halfway mark of making this album — I didn’t know how long it would take, so I didn’t realize that at the time — I asked her if she would executive-produce. I was hoping she would say yes. I didn’t know if it was something she had done or was interested in, or if maybe she just preferred writing and doing her own music. Anyway, she said yes immediately and I was thrilled, because I really admire her. On top of that, we really got on.
How was it different with Sia in this role as opposed to Stuart Price, who executive-produced your last album, Aphrodite?
KM: Well, Stuart has more to do with the production side. Sia is involved with the production, but a lot of that is left to the producers. So, it was slightly different. I love Stuart, as well. I totally adore him and I think he did a fantastic job with Aphrodite. But, yeah, it just seemed a little different [this time]. So, I gave Sia everything I had recorded up until that [halfway] point, which was already a lot, and it was good to have someone help me make sense of what I had. Crazily enough, it was around that time, or shortly after, when she said, “There’s no sex! We need something hot!” Next thing, there’s three songs — sex, sex, sex — on my album, the most noticeable one being hers, which is “Sexercize.”
Kylie Minogue — Kiss Me Once album sampler
When all those “sex” titles were revealed, I thought, Well, now we know what kind of mood Kylie has been in.
KM: [Laughs] Yeah, um…well. There are some hot moments. But I’d say they’re more like “pop” hot, if that makes any sense. Even “Sexercize” — obviously it’s a memorable title. But I have to confess, the first time Sia told me about it, I thought, “Sexercize”? Really? I’m not sure about that. But it’s Sia’s genius that she can make it cool and make it a great song. I probably put the flirtation into it. But it’s definitely got everyone talking.
At this particular moment, “Les Sex” is a personal favorite.
KM: That was with MNDR, who I fawned over because I love “Bang Bang Bang,” her song with Mark Ronson. I also worked with her and Fernando Garibay, but the songs didn’t make it, although they were also really good! I worked with so many people, and I want everyone who was a part of this album — whether they were a part of the final tracklisting or not — I hope they know that even when we took a turn that wasn’t the right turn, it was an important one and [they] helped to make this album. But I’m glad you like “Les Sex.”
A lot of people were excited to hear you’d recorded with Ariel Rechtshaid.
KM: I loved his work he did with Dev Hynes. Sky Ferreira, Haim — that was all fantastic.
How many tracks did you record with him?
KM: We did two, but only one of those is on the album, which is “If Only.” I love it because it’s got that feel he brings to the track that kind of makes me feel like a school disco — just feeling like you’re desperately in love with someone and you’re probably alone.
Would you be open to talking about particular collaborations that didn’t make the cut of the album?
KM: I don’t think that’s necessary. But you know — great, great people. Some people who were more just starting out. You just never know where you’re going to get a song from, and then it’s a case of putting them all together. I can’t tell you how many versions of this album have been put into a list. I mean, I’ve made more lists in the last year than I care to think of. And, really down to the very end, there were so many contenders. I felt like no matter which way the song list went, there was going to be some disappointment [over what was cut] on my side and on the side of other writers and producers. But once I realized, okay, there is no happy ending for everyone, in the back of mind was that there are always other releases. The songs will find the right home when it’s the right time.
Getting it just right sounds like a particularly grueling process, particularly with Kiss Me Once.
KM: It is. You just think, Come on — they’re all great. Just put all of them together. There are some people I trust who’d make their own list, and some of them were completely different. And it’s like, really? That song from 11 months ago that we’d all almost forgotten about has suddenly come back into the running. It’s a strange little process…or big process. But right up until the wire we were making last minute decisions. We probably had eight tracks that everyone was absolutely certain about, and the others it was just, what would work best for the album? But I’m happy. I’m relieved that it’s done. I’m a little bit shocked that it’s done, like an out of body experience. My mindset has been working on it for such a long time. It’s really, really exciting that now I get to share what I’ve been working on.