After last year’s split with fi­ancé Joshua Sasse, KYLIE MINOGUE is back, ‘giv­ing it ev­ery­thing’. She talks frankly to Chrissy Iley about heartache, her great­est fear and – who’d have thought it? – turn­ing 50 ➤

For me, there will only ever be one Kylie. By that I mean for­get Jen­ner, I’m talk­ing Minogue – the girl from Mel­bourne who bounced on to our television screens at 18 play­ing Charlene in Neigh­bours and daz­zled us with her charm and en­ergy. And she’s gone on daz­zling us ever since – through the rein­ven­tions, the break-ups (Ja­son Donovan, Michael Hutchence), the bad hair­dos and her 2005 breast can­cer di­ag­no­sis. The peren­ni­ally youth­ful pop princess has taken it all on and is still the sweet­est, sm­i­li­est diva you’ll ever find in The Royal Suite at The Ritz in London, which is where we meet, near her Knights­bridge flat. Her com­plex­ion is flaw­less, her hair longer and more golden than ever – I can’t be­lieve she’ll be 50 next month.

Last year Kylie split up with her fi­ancé, ac­tor Joshua Sasse, 20 years her ju­nior. It was a heady, crazy love: they met when she made a guest ap­pear­ance on his mu­si­cal com­edy show Gala­vant, he pro­posed after six months, but just over six months later they’d fallen out of love. All kinds of ru­mours cir­cu­lated: that she’d changed her mind days be­fore the wed­ding, that he’d had an on-set ro­mance. The truth, of course, was more sub­tle and more painful, and the only way to re­lease it was through songs from her heart. So Kylie’s lat­est al­bum, Golden, is her most per­sonal ever, her deep­est thoughts set to mu­sic in a mix­ture of seam­less pop and hyp­notic coun­try. Her voice is per­fect for coun­try – pure and em­pathic – and the lyrics are soul-bar­ing, as she re­veals… Was I re­ally go­ing to get mar­ried? I had the ring on the fin­ger, didn’t I? But we hadn’t ac­tu­ally planned a wed­ding. It was a beau­ti­ful mo­ment and I loved it, but then, you know, as time goes on… What hap­pened? It’s com­pli­cated. To try to put it in a nut­shell would not only be too dif­fi­cult but un­fair. Ac­tu­ally, I never thought I was the mar­ry­ing kind. In my song ‘A Life­time to Re­pair’ I say, ‘I thought I’d set­tle down, a happy-ever-after princess…’ I know for a lot of peo­ple that’s where they want to end up but, for me, it never was. I guess I thought, ‘That’s what peo­ple do, maybe I’ll give it a try.’ But ei­ther it isn’t for me or I was with the wrong per­son. I was swept up in the mo­ment and I’m not afraid to ad­mit that. I’m not giv­ing up on re­la­tion­ships, though, and I’ll prob­a­bly be fool­ish again. Oth­er­wise I might as well stay at home and get lots of cats. No of­fence to mul­ti­ple-cat-lov­ing peo­ple who stay home, but my great­est fear is lone­li­ness, even though some­times I crave to be alone. I just want some quiet. Some days I want to date, other days I think I just don’t want a boyfriend right now. I’m not look­ing for a cat ei­ther. Mak­ing the de­ci­sion to end the re­la­tion­ship was the hard­est part. After the break-up peo­ple were say­ing, ‘I hope you’re OK’, and I thought, you know I am OK. I’ve coped with the help of laugh­ter, friends, mu­sic and fam­ily. Once it was done it was a re­lief to both of us be­cause it’s hard. You hang on to what is good and it’s hard to let go and you feel strangely em­bar­rassed, think­ing, ‘Oh, are we sup­posed to try to make this work?’ I sing ‘I’m Bro­ken Hearted’. Ac­tu­ally, I was bro­ken. Be­cause for a long time I was in a re­la­tion­ship that we both knew was end­ing, and that takes its toll on you. So go­ing into the stu­dio and get­ting all that stuff out of my sys­tem was a way of deal­ing with it. In the be­gin­ning the al­bum was very much a Dear Di­ary... Now I’ve moved on, and the songs have, too. It’s about me, my re­la­tion­ship, where I am in my life. I reached a point where I thought, more than any­thing, I’ve got to be hon­est with my­self, so I wrote about re­la­tion­ships and love and the usual cul­prits. The great thing about coun­try mu­sic is that you can put more of a story in the song. You can work some hu­mour in. And the beau­ti­ful thing about the re­ally sad songs is that as well as be­ing haunt­ingly sad they are up­beat. It was my A&R guy Jamie Nel­son’s idea to give them a coun­try edge. We started in the UK and then went to Nashville where I worked with English writ­ers who live there. Nashville had a pro­found ef­fect on me – peo­ple there seem so emo­tion­ally con­nected. There’s such a dif­fer­ent feel­ing about the place. It’s not like London, LA, Mel­bourne or Syd­ney. I loved see­ing an au­di­ence of all ages at The Blue­bird Café in stet­sons and cow­boy boots. I would love to go back to Nashville. I feel I’ve just scraped the sur­face and I want to get to the next level. It re­ally helped me be­lieve in the songs. That’s the en­ergy: you go to per­for­mance rooms there and the song­writ­ers talk about how the song came about. I felt I could fall in love a mil­lion times. I didn’t know this al­bum would be called Golden. But I was sift­ing and chip­ping away [at it] for such a


long time, and I thought, I just need a nugget of gold… Song­writ­ing can be a bit like ther­apy, so it was the style of my heal­ing. And I liked the idea that we’re all golden – not old, not young, but golden. You can’t make your­self younger. I’m al­ways asked how I feel about be­ing my age in this in­dus­try, and such ques­tions per­pet­u­ate the myth that you can’t be older. You are who you are. Peo­ple also used to ask me how it felt to be 18 when I was start­ing out. I didn’t know be­cause I had noth­ing to com­pare it to. Men don’t get asked these ques­tions. They don’t get told they look too young, too old, not good enough. But I’d be ly­ing if I said I never think about get­ting older. Just to­day I was look­ing in a mag­ni­fy­ing mir­ror, putting on mas­cara, and I said to the guy do­ing my make-up, I think I need to do some­thing. I’m not pro or against [surgery]. One of my ab­so­lute idols is Jane Fonda, and the way she has han­dled it is ad­mirable. I re­mem­ber her say­ing some­thing like, it’s 80 per cent ge­net­ics, ten per cent tak­ing care of your­self and ten per cent a good sur­geon. So if, and when, the time comes I’ll be tak­ing a leaf out of Jane Fonda’s book. The heels come off as soon as I get home. High heels and walk­ing down stairs – my knees make sure I know about it. They’re say­ing, ‘How much longer are we go­ing to be do­ing this?’ A lot of peo­ple I know are turn­ing 50 and one thing that seems to ring true for all of us is: this is me, I feel bet­ter within my­self now – I’m turn­ing an­other cor­ner of who I am. And a lot of things start to make sense. Things that you can’t have known when you were younger. I have to go through the menopause twice. I’ve done it once al­ready. The first was med­i­cally in­duced when they sup­pressed my oe­stro­gen for my can­cer treat­ment. So at least I know what it will be like. You are flum­moxed, you are hot and you for­get what you’re say­ing. So I’ll be back in the fridge! I re­mem­ber a friend of mine a bit older than me used to open the fridge and stand in front of it. I’m ahead of the game with that ex­pe­ri­ence. I felt a lot of guilt for my fam­ily when I had can­cer. I was in that mo­ment, try­ing to get through, and they felt help­less. They weren’t, be­cause their strength was im­por­tant to me. It was tough to see them hurt­ing so much and putting on a brave face. I don’t know how much they cried be­cause they just couldn’t show that hurt to me then. Now I’m go­ing to say clichéd things: you take a look at the big­ger pic­ture, what’s im­por­tant to you, who is im­por­tant to you, what you want to do dif­fer­ently – al­though I didn’t want to do any­thing dif­fer­ently. I just wanted to get bet­ter and get on with it. But I did re­alise that I love what I do and some­times the good things come from beau­ti­ful mo­ments of con­nec­tion. I’ve got pretty good fans. They’re re­ally kind. I don’t know how I be­came a gay icon. When I started out I hadn’t had a lot of real tragedy in my life – apart from bad hair­dos. Per­haps it was play­ing some­one who goes against the grain: Charlene was a tomboy me­chanic. And then when I tried to re­lease a sin­gle peo­ple said, ‘You can’t do that, you’re an ac­tress not a singer,’ and I had to over­come that. I cam­paigned for gay mar­riage in Aus­tralia. I was in London dur­ing the vot­ing process last Novem­ber, and I re­mem­ber tex­ting my sis­ter Dan­nii and say­ing, ‘What if it doesn’t hap­pen?’ It’s a mod­ern coun­try and we want

to feel that we are for­ward-think­ing and lib­eral, so it was kind of shock­ing that we were so far be­hind in that. I did won­der if peo­ple are sick of celebri­ties talk­ing about it, but the irony is you’re more likely to be heard if you have the plat­form of celebrity. I’m re­ally un­faith­ful to beauty prod­ucts – I use what­ever is in the cup­board. But I al­ways cleanse my face and I could prob­a­bly count the num­ber of times I’ve gone to bed with mas­cara on: I have to get ev­ery­thing off. I’m cur­rently us­ing Char­lotte Til­bury be­cause I worked with her re­cently and she gen­er­ously gave me a ton of make-up, but I also love ex­plor­ing. I swear by us­ing a muslin face cloth for ex­fo­li­a­tion be­cause it’s never too harsh, and I like a good sun­block. You can’t re­ally stay out of the sun in Aus­tralia, and I love the vibes of the sea, so I get my­self a bit of vi­ta­min D. But I reap­ply sun­block all the time, and I’m un­der the tree with a hat, fully cov­ered, swat­ting mos­qui­toes!

My body clock wakes me up early, at 5 or 6am. But then I tell my­self to go back to sleep, and that’s my best sleep. I’ll wake up again at 9.30, al­though that varies with where I am and what I’ve got to do that day. Break­fast at home is Illy cof­fee and a bread called pain Poilâne – you could break a tooth on it – with goat’s but­ter or al­mond but­ter or av­o­cado, or maybe toasted with an egg. I like to get fit by work­ing as op­posed to hav­ing a regime. I’ve been very lax on ex­er­cise, but I do like yoga. When I was about 19 I went to a re­treat. I was the youngest per­son there, the small­est and the thinnest, but ev­ery­one goes for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. It’s the kind of place where you wake up at 6am and they tell you that by the end of the week you will ab­seil. Ev­ery­one goes, ‘No, we can’t do that’, but sure enough ev­ery­one does it. I liked that em­pow­er­ment thing. If you don’t give it ev­ery­thing, you may as well not be here. I took a cab the other day – I had an ap­point­ment but I re­ally wanted to take a de­tour to get a cof­fee on the way. The driver said, ‘Hey, of course. I want to thank you. You sent my daugh­ter a pic­ture.’ I re­mem­bered I’d been in that cab be­fore and he’d said it would be such a thrill for his daugh­ter. He said, ‘We got it, we framed it and wrapped it up, and she opened it on her birthday and burst into tears.’ It was a beau­ti­ful mo­ment. Kylie’s new al­bum Golden is out now through BMG

Kylie with her ex-fi­ancé Joshua Sasse. ‘Once it was over it was a re­lief to both of us be­cause it’s hard to let go’

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