Kylie Gets Personal: On Her Upcoming NYC Pride Gig and How She Handles ‘Gay Icon’ Status
One of the most influential pop artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and nicknamed the “Goddess of Pop,” Kylie Minogue is mere days away from coming stateside to headline New York City Pride on Sunday, June 24.
Her latest album, Golden, showcased an altogether different side of the Aussie pop diva. Inspired by the music of Nashville, her 14th studio album also explores a more personal side of Minogue’s life, something she hasn’t always done with her music. And it worked, as the album’s lead single “Dancing” hit number one on the American Billboard Dance Club Chart, with the album itself hitting number one in both the U.K. and Australia.
Tickets may be sold out for her performance this weekend at New York City Pride, but she’ll also be staging a special concert at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom two days later on Tuesday, June 26. (Actually, never mind — that’s sold-out, too, though who’s surprised?)
Hornet chatted with Kylie Minogue in advance of her only big Pride performance of 2018, and in addition to hearing about what she has planned for this weekend’s revelers, she chats about the inspiration behind her most personal album to date and how she handles her “gay icon” status.
HORNET: You’re coming to New York Pride! How exciting! Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re preparing for the show?
KYLIE MINOGUE: I’m super excited about it, and it’s getting more and more real every day. I don’t want to give too much away, but we’ve got half an hour. So I wanted to have a mixture of new and old material. I wanted to tailor-make it for Pride. So it’s gonna be pretty pumping, I’d say. I want to have a moment in there where we just slow it down … but I pick you right back up again. Just hand yourselves over, and we’ll take care of you.
So, there’s actually a Wikipedia page for gay icons.
Apparently I’m on it, which is incredible. I mean, I know this has been a love affair between the [LGBTQ] community and myself that’s been going on for maybe 30 years. So I’m very aware, and there’s loyalty and faith and love and all of that, which is just incredible, but the thing for me is that it was a totally organic coming together.
In the beginning, I mean, there’s a saying over here — “the pink pound” — which didn’t exist then. It was never part of a marketing strategy. It just happened, and I love that.
Who is your gay icon?
But, you know, I started in TV when I was 11, and I’m pretty sure the guy doing my makeup was a gay guy. I think I’m fortunate that I was brought up in a field where it was present and accepted, so I’ve never had to question it.
What’s your favorite Cher song?
Oh, god. I mean, the first one I have to think of is “Believe,” of course. That’s the go-to. I don’t know if it’s the same in America, but in England that was her blazing comeback. I can get lost in a Cher vortex on YouTube very easily.
What does your Cher vortex look like?
Anything and everything. And what’s incredible is, it never ends — you’ve never seen it all. Someone sent me a picture only yesterday, and I just went, “Oh my god, I’ve never seen that.” It was her with Bowie with a long fringe hairdo, which I’d never seen.
And the sketch shows. I would have been perhaps a little bit young to watch them, and I’m not even sure we had The Sonny and Cher Show on Australian TV, or maybe I just didn’t see it. Life’s been a bit of a catch-up with these incredible women. Things like Cher and Tina Turner doing their sketch or their songs together. I had my 50th birthday party three weeks back, and there wasn’t a theme as such, but it was heavily inspired by Studio 54.
Tell me about the experience of releasing this latest album, Golden. You showed a different side of yourself.
At this end of the story, now that the album’s out and I’ve had the feedback, it’s just been absolutely overwhelming. I mean, no one will really know my story, because I’m not that person. I don’t air my dirty laundry out in public. It’s just not who I am; I can’t do it. But, you know, this album reveals moments and thoughts, sentiments and stories.
And people’s feedback has really touched me. People saying, “I really liked that. I get it. I feel you,” and “I’ve felt strengthened by it and empowered by a lot of the record.”
I love that people felt empowered and that they got to understand me a little bit more. The decision to write more personal lyrics was a really easy one. I must have known that was the fast track to sorting myself out, really, and being honest with myself. It was a point in my life where I was just, “That’s it. You need to be honest with yourself, and if you’re being honest with yourself, you have to be honest in this project.”
So it was very cathartic and rewarding and a bit challenging, but fantastic. Thank God I had an album to make so I could spend time in the studio. It really was a kind of savior.
Before our chat, Hornet extended an invite to our users to submit questions for you. One user, Evan, has a question about your 1997 album Impossible Princess. He asks whether you think it will ever get the credit it’s due? He says, “It’s an electronic pop pioneer, and the other queens should bow to it.”
Oh, wow. OK. Well, it turns out that the album was a success, in a way. I mean, there are fans who are absolutely passionate about it. And I would say that’s the only other album where … I mean, a lot of that was very personal. I don’t think I could speak as clearly as I do now or get the message across as clearly. But it was what I wanted to put out there in the context of what was happening at that time. We were in the ’90s. It was, you know, more left field and kind of Björk, Garbage, Blur — those were all my inspirations around that time.
It will never get the recognition, but I think it’s had enough from the people who matter. I didn’t need it, but it’s very nice to have it, and that people still get something from it.
Are there any moments in your catalog that give you chills when you listen to them?
It’s hard to choose, but I would have to go with a recent song on the deluxe edition of Golden called “Lost Without You.” It’s in the middle eight. John Green and I, when we wrote it in studio, we go to the middle eight and played the song melodies, and nothing really felt right. I think we were just running out of time. And I said, “Well, maybe I should say something, just speak.” So it’s pretty much stream of consciousness, and I just had a feeling.
So when he sent the first mix of “Lost Without You” to me, and I first heard it — I won’t ever forget it, because I was at another session, so staying over at that producer’s house — it was about 1 in the morning when I listened to the track. I just welled up in the middle. It took my breath away. I thought, “Oh my god. He’s done it. This is … this is giving me feels.” So that’s one. I’ve never performed that song live — yet. I hope to on tour.
And if I could choose another moment that other people will relate to because they’ve heard it live, that’d be in “The One.” It kind of builds up, builds up, builds up, and then in the moment where it drops and it’s just like, “Ahhh.” Like, basically there’s glitter explosions everywhere. Starlight, starbursts, you name it, that’s what’s happening in my head and my heart at that point.
In 2018, what is your message to your LGBTQ fan base? But it doesn’t just have to be to your LBGTQ fan base. Just maybe, anybody out there who’s listening, as a fan of yours, who is maybe feeling disenfranchised. What is your message to that person?
Stay the course. I mean, for someone who’s followed me, thank you. And secondly, I was going to say how fortunate that there are open discussions now about individuality, but I know that’s not the case everywhere. So, if that’s not the case, that’s where we need to get to — where we all feel comfortable in our own skin.
And on a broader level, even if you don’t have those kinds of obstacles that others in the community may have — acceptance of self and by others — all of us are trying to find our way. I think everyone in life is trying to find our way, and we change over time and with the times. So I would say, if it’s a great moment, celebrate it, and if you’re not at that great moment yet and you’re struggling, just stay the course. You’ll get there.
And, remember, you have to have hope. That’s the one thing you have to have.