THE YEAR OF living fabulously
As she gears up to bring her latest tour home to Australia, Kylie Minogue tells Stellar about a whirlwind 12 months that have seen her find new love, reunite with old friends and “take ownership” of her path in life
Turns out Kylie Minogue hates both birthday parties and surprises. Yet Minogue’s 50th birthday party, thrown at London’s celebrity haven Chiltern Firehouse in May – mere days after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle held their wedding after-party there – has changed her policy of a lifetime.
When she stepped inside, Minogue stumbled into a mini- Neighbours reunion (Guy Pearce and Jason Donovan were on the guest list) and her band had set up a small stage with guest duet partners. Her good friend, singer and Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears, played Kenny to her Dolly on a cover of 1983’s ‘Islands In The Stream’, while Rick Astley ( who also worked with mid-’80s hit makers Stock Aitken Waterman) serenaded her with his 1987 classic ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.
“I was literally on cloud nine for two weeks after the party,” Minogue tells Stellar. “I could not calm down. It was a room full of memories and love and stories. It was incredible. I barely had time for a drink all night; I was just chatting, hugging, helloing – chatting, hugging, helloing. Amazing vibes. Every performance on the night was a surprise, and there were all these video messages I wasn’t expecting.
“I’m not that person to do big parties. Girlfriends would especially hassle me about birthday parties and I’d say, ‘ Why don’t the four of us just go for dinner?’ to try and get out of it. But everyone involved put so much effort into it and they managed to surprise me with a few things at the risk of me hating it. But I loved it all. It really was one of the best nights of my life.”
Remarkably, besides a few paparazzi shots of Melanie C, Graham Norton, David Walliams and Chrissie Hynde entering the bash, the entire event barely registered on social media. “For the most part, people were really respectful to not take pictures inside, and of the fact it was still a private event. And – side note – it’s amazing how once people get that in their head and put their phones away, they just have a completely different experience,” Minogue says.
Still, there was one photo from the night that she strategically shared with her 1.8 million followers on Instagram: a black and white Polaroid of her kissing a certain gentleman. It was her way of making official a relationship with 43-year-old Paul Solomons, creative director at British GQ magazine, who Minogue met through mutual friends at the start of the year. Ironically, it happened just as she was promoting her 14th album, Golden, which was written and recorded on the heels of her broken engagement to actor Joshua Sasse. When Minogue previously spoke to Stellar in March, she admitted she had been uncharacteristically open with the media about Sasse, who did many interviews talking about his partner in detail.
“‘I’m not usually that public,” Minogue said at the time. “It wasn’t just my decision, I went along with it. It was
“I was on cloud nine for two weeks after my 50th birthday party”
slightly out of character.” Now, aside from a sprinkling of posts on their respective Instagram pages, Minogue is back to keeping things private. And as for that initial photo outing them as a couple, she admits it was just their way of beating the paparazzi at their own game.
“We thought someone is going to get a picture at some point, so let’s just post one,” she says. “I’d managed to sneak away from the main room to the restaurant area. We sat down, realised we were starving, smashed two miniburgers and then Prince’s ‘Little Red Corvette’ started playing and I was out of my seat again. My assistant Tully had a Polaroid and he was taking some pictures and walked by when Paul and I were having that moment. He took one, legged it, and that was the picture that summed up that moment. And it was an absolute moment – we thought it was a nice, subtle way to [confirm our relationship].”
Minogue is coy when asked more about Solomons, who, like her mother Carol, is Welsh. They made their red-carpet debut at the GQ Awards in London in September. “When something’s precious, you want to handle it with care,” she tells Stellar. “We’re learning about each other’s worlds; of course there’s a part of his profession that crosses over to mine. I really just don’t want to say too much. He’s a great, great guy. We’re just doing our thing.”
Of course, Minogue knows her public yearns for her to find happiness in her private life. “I’m happy,” she tells Stellar. “I’m very aware people are happy when I’m happy. That is sweet.” There’s a long pause. “I will add that this year, with so many big things happening, it’s been lovely and wonderful to have someone who really is there. It’s great to have success in your life – to have someone to share that with is really amazing.”
Solomons is a music lover, fanboying over attending a concert by Minogue’s friend and mentor Nick Cave, who recently claimed the pop singer fills her texts to him with exclamation marks, and that she’s single-handedly bringing them back in a world filled with emoticons. “Well, there you go, another achievement for me this year,” Minogue jokes.
In July, Minogue and Solomons had another date night to see Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show. “I was working in New York, Paul came over so we could be together but specifically so we could see the Springsteen show. It’s everything people say; it’s emotional and it’s human and he’s incredible. I was really inspired on an artistic level, and it makes you think about your life, the person you’re there with and their life. One minute you’re howling with laughter and then you’ve got tears in your eyes.”
Springsteen turns 70 next year and remains one of the planet’s most successful touring acts. Cher just finished an Australian jaunt at the age of 72, asking “What’s your granny doing tonight?” at the start of every show. Minogue’s personal pop blueprints also reached landmark ages this year: Madonna turned 60, Olivia Newton-john hit 70.
The Australian started the year dreading being asked about her own milestone, titling her album Golden before realising the connection to a 50th anniversary, and even fielding questions about how long she plans to stay
“It’s great to have success in your life – to have someone to share that with is amazing”
in the game. Her go-to reply was a lyric from the album: “We’re not young, we’re not old, we’re golden.”
Upon reflection, Minogue says of being 50, “It’s about taking ownership of it. You can’t pretend it’s not happening – it’s about having a different mindset and a different attitude.”
Even by her lofty standards, Golden has been a major success. As well as reaching number one in Australia and returning her to commercial radio with the hit ‘Dancing’, the country-tinged pop album has been particularly embraced in the UK, where it’s gone gold and now spawned five singles.
“You just never know how something will go until it gets out there,” she says. “You just can’t force a project to do something that isn’t its destiny. What has transpired has been brilliant.”
An eternal hustler, Minogue has been promoting and touring the album relentlessly, from gay festivals in California to stadium shows across the UK and Europe. “It’s been a crazy, busy year. But I’ve had crazy, busy years that were not as successful, like with [2014’s Kiss Me Once]. It’s only time and distance where you can reflect upon those things. You have to go into every campaign the same way because you don’t know in advance what will happen. Sometimes you have a feeling. I did think Golden was a risk worth taking, but you can do all the work and the result isn’t there. It might come later. But you have to keep trying. I look at some actors’ work, and they do a lot of movies to get to the one that strikes gold. It’s the same with albums.”
Golden contains a song called ‘Shelby ’68’, a nod to her father Ron’s beloved car. Her parents are notoriously media-shy, stealthy at avoiding red carpets and politely refusing interviews. “People have realised they’re just not interested in the attention,” she says. “They were hoodwinked into it a couple of times in the early days, back in the beginning. It would have scared the life out of them, particularly my mum. She barely likes being in pictures at home. How Dan [sister Dannii] and I turned out the way we did… Well, Mum was a ballerina, she’s got that performance side in her somewhere. But their avoiding of the spotlight does take some effort.”
With Dannii juggling music and TV careers, brother Brendan (who has two children) has taken more of a role in the business side of his sisters’ careers. The Minogues are known as one of the most closely knit families in Australian entertainment. “I have known those girls all their lives,” family friend Tina Arena tells Stellar. “We’ve all been famous, really, since we were kids. They’ve got a very good relationship with their family and their craft. You need good support around you.”
Minogue’s former teenage boyfriend Donovan recently joined her at Hyde Park in London for a televised concert where they performed their million-selling duet ‘Especially For You’, which turns 30 this month and was recorded when they were still keeping their relationship a secret. The low-maintenance Donovan, who still regularly tours the UK as well as doing radio work, cycled to the concert. “I had this chin-stroking moment,” Minogue recalls. “Jason is coming, would he want to sing ‘Especially For You’? We were doing it in the show, anyway; we had a gospel choir singing it. When he arrived on his bike, I asked him to sing with me and told him there was zero pressure if he didn’t want to. He was such a good sport. We had a quick warm up backstage and people were creeping into the room to have a listen. If we’d arranged it all beforehand, it wouldn’t have been that genuine. It blew people’s minds.”
Donovan, who also turned 50 this year, made headlines recently for reported bawdy comments about Minogue in his latest UK tour. “Jason did text me about that,” she says. “I didn’t even hear anything about it until he mentioned it. I just said, ‘Oh god, don’t worry.’ You have to appreciate someone’s humour.”
While Minogue tours Golden, she is also still working on a musical that would be based on her career and use her songs. “Everyone said, ‘It takes a long time to make a musical,’ and true enough, it’s taking a long time,” she says. “There’s been quite a bit of work, up to a table read where you figure out what’s right and what’s not right, but it’s still at the drawing-board stage.”
In the meantime, the tour will reach Australia next year, and she is planning to play a mix of indoor and outdoor shows for the first time as part of her plan to try new venues. “To use the football analogy, I can honestly say I’ve never toured where I’ve left nothing on the pitch like I have on this tour. I really enjoy every moment of this show. I’ve found myself doing things I’ve never done before, which happened really organically.
“Vocally it’s been lots of fun.through making the album I’ve discovered new areas of my voice and new ways of delivery. I guess it’s maturing into myself, too. It feels good. It’s a big show. And a big sing. I’ve thrown everything at it and I love it.”
“You can do the work and the result isn’t there. You have to keep trying”
ALL (below, THAT from GLITTERS… top) Kylie Minogue on the opening night of her Golden Tour in the UK in September; sharing a moment with her new love Paul Solomons at her 50th birthday bash by going public with the photo; being joined onstage by sister Dannii at her A Kylie Christmas concert series at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2015.