NI­COLE ATIENO

Hav­ing en­joyed un­prece­dented longevity in a daz­zling ca­reer, the leg­endary singer re­mains the bright­est star in the pop fir­ma­ment. By He­lena Lee

Harper's Bazaar (UK) - - Contents - Pho­to­graph by SI­MON EM­METT

Bazaar’s Break­through Model has come a long way from her Kenyan child­hood, light­ing up cat­walks all over the world – and now the halls of Kneb­worth House

‘Age can­not wither her, nor cus­tom stale/ Her in­fi­nite va­ri­ety.’ Shake­speare’s paean in praise of the Egyp­tian Queen seems cu­ri­ously ap­po­site, I re­flect, as I jour­ney to Not­ting­ham to meet Kylie Minogue. Af­ter all, the star has de­fied the knee-jerk ageism of pop, which scorns

He­lena Lee ma­tu­rity in favour of the tran­sience of youth, with a 30-year ca­reer no­table for its di­ver­sity and a con­stant stream of en­dur­ing top-10 hits.

We meet in her dress­ing-room at the Arena, on the sec­ond day of her Bri­tish tour; the tyranny of the sched­ule means that time is not her own – sound checks and re­hearsals beckon – but Minogue is serenely sip­ping herbal tea, clad in a blush silk Ulla John­son floor-length dress. Tiny, with glow­ing skin and only a smat­ter­ing of laugh­ter lines, she looks about 35; but her lat­est al­bum Golden is an homage to turn­ing 50 – a fact that elic­its gasps from ev­ery­one I tell.

Minogue wrote Golden as a re­ac­tion to the in­tru­sive crit­ics who wanted to know how it felt to be her age in the mu­sic in­dus­try. ‘I didn’t know how to an­swer, all I knew was that it was an­noy­ing me,’ she says. ‘I wanted to tell them to stop ask­ing me about it.’ The ti­tle song – with its rous­ing re­frain ‘We’re not young, we’re not old… we’re golden’ – has put an end to such im­per­ti­nent queries. ‘I’m now not be­ing asked those ques­tions,’ she says with a par­don­able hint of pride.

The al­bum, a heady mix of pop and Nash­ville, is per­haps Minogue’s most emo­tion­ally res­o­nant yet. In con­tribut­ing ex­ten­sively to the song­writ­ing, she was de­ter­mined to con­vey her feel­ings in a way that was pro­found but not in­dul­gent. ‘[Usu­ally] there’s a pub­lic me, and a much more pri­vate me. It was good to let that pri­vate side go a bit,’ says the singer, who has had a tur­bu­lent time of late. Last year, she split from her fi­ancé, the ac­tor Joshua Sasse, and ex­pe­ri­enced what she calls ‘a slow and steady break­down’. ‘I wasn’t be­ing my­self, I was ly­ing to my­self,’ she says. ‘I knew I wasn’t be­ing truth­ful to the peo­ple around me, try­ing to pre­tend that ev­ery­thing was OK. I just wasn’t OK.’

She poured her emo­tions into the al­bum, which, as a re­sult, feels to­tally authen­tic, I tell her. ‘That was lit­er­ally the key word,’ she agrees. ‘It’s not a heart­break al­bum, it’s an al­bum of dis­cov­ery. I wasn’t heart­bro­ken, I was bro­ken. I found a way to phrase it, took some po­etic li­cence, and made it re­lat­able to peo­ple. But hon­estly, I’ve had worse rock bot­toms in my life,’ she con­cludes, with typ­i­cal brav­ery.

So, what is the se­cret to her suc­cess? ‘You need a lot of graft, a lot of courage and a bit of luck,’ she says with a smile. ‘ I def­i­nitely think I was born to do this… Well, I’ve left it pretty late to do any­thing else!’

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