Our Kylie confided in STACK about collaborating with Nick Cave, crying in the studio, where the famed hotpants currently live, and how her voice has changed over time, in convo about her awesomely thorough new collection Step Back In Time.
Perhaps it’s uncouth to open a conversation with the Princess of Pop with a question about a song which hasn’t actually appeared on any of her studio albums – but it seems that Kylie Minogue is as enamoured with her part in the Nick Cave-penned duet Where The Wild Roses Grow and its legacy as every other fan of the beloved gothic ballad. “I could talk about it all day!” she cries, and attests she has always considered it a part of her own songbook. “Yes, weirdly – though I didn’t write any of it,” she says. “But everything [Nick and I] have ever done together feels like such a union. It does feel like our song. I hope he doesn’t mind me saying that!”
The last time Cave and Minogue performed the track together was at London’s Victoria Park in June last year; Minogue appeared as a surprise guest. “It was probably the first time we’d said ‘I think we got it right that time,’” she laughs. The event was six weeks in planning – around the same amount of time to organise Minogue’s appearance to perform the song with Coldplay in Sydney in June 2014 – but in Minogue’s experience, guest appearances can be organised across all kinds of timelines. “Something like when I performed in Hyde Park in London last year, with Jason Donovan coming on for his part in Especially For You – that was literally just hours before.”
It’s a part of her job she revels in. “I just think it’s so exciting performing with someone else,” she says. “I think there’s an unspoken bond – of doing what you do. And of course, everyone does it differently. I absolutely love it – I love doing duets, and having that moment to perform live together. It’s amazing.”
Her upcoming compilation Step Back In Time: The Definitive Collection includes three duets – Where The Wild Roses Grow, Especially For You, and the iconic jam Kids with Robbie Williams – along with around 40 other tracks from throughout her sparkling 30-year career. Across these songs, hearing the way her voice has improved in control and quality is due to, Minogue says, a mix of confidence, experience and training. “Maturation of my voice, and trial and error,” she adds. “I mean, I had singing lessons when I was 16; I used my little bit of money I’d made from doing The Henderson Kids to do singing lessons, and then to make a demo cassette with three songs on it, in one day. I burst into tears in the studio I was so nervous.
“Parallel with that, I feel like I always did have a bit of a musical dream… but vocal-wise I was kind of just thrown out there and had to sink or swim; I used to be so nervous about singing live, and especially in Australia there was so much pressure on me. I think that lasted a long time, and now has perhaps finally dissipated, thank goodness. But it’s just in recent years [that] I’ve had to worry less about balancing something on my head and negotiating costumes and flying and all that kind of stuff, and I’ve actually just been able to just get in the saddle with the band and really experiment, and it’s been so liberating – I’ve loved it.”
It’s that connection with her musicians and the audience which has placed Minogue in a sweet spot with which she’s truly happy: “I think I’ve kind of found my place now, where you want to have enough showbiz, but I want to have the freedom to connect with the audience. I think that elevates the show more than a costume.”
Speaking of costumes: the Australian Music Vault in Melbourne’s Arts Centre contains a number of Minogue’s iconic pieces, and is definitely worth a trip into town. Although you won’t be seeing those hotpants: “They’re in like 700 layers of tissue in a climate-controlled cupboard, I believe,” Minogue laughs. And, sadly, not the raspberry beret she wore in Street Fighter either. “Oh my God! No. I don’t even know – if someone had asked me what colour it was, I wouldn’t have a clue!”
Step Back In Time: The Definitive Collection by Kylie Minogue is out June 28 via Warner on various formats including Deluxe Hardbook Edition and limited edition mint green vinyl.
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