Grammy Award-Winner Kylie Minogue on Inner Strength and her Surprising New Side Hustle

Australia’s mononymous sweetheart she may be, but behind the sparkling pop persona, Kylie harbours a quiet determination — and not a little self-doubt.

Article by Katarina Kroslakova

Kylie Minogue wears Gucci blouse and pants,; Vicki Sarge earrings, vickisarge. com; and Dolce & Gabbana shoes, Photographs by Denys Dionysios Styled by Karl Willett

Kylie Minogue is back home in Australia after an incredible 12 months away. Of course, she faced lockdowns like everyone else, but she managed to emerge from the experience with a hit record, “Disco” — her 15th, released in November 2020. It not only concreted Kylie’s status as the bestselling female Australian artist of all time, it also saw her make history as the first female artist to have a number-one album in the UK over five consecutive decades.

Speaking to T Australia’s Publisher and Editor Katarina Kroslakova from her Melbourne home, Kylie, 52, was unguarded and philosophical as she reflected on her career and shifting priorities. She spoke candidly about this issue’s theme — strength — explaining what it means to her and how she got it. And why, exactly, she chose this moment to get into the wine business. What follows is an edited conversation with our Kylie.

On Staying Strong

“There’s much to be said about strength. I think it’s too simple to think of it as just being strong – that seems like an outdated concept. Strength is all sorts of things. Sometimes it’s being as brave as you know how to be, sometimes it’s acknowledging your weaknesses and allowing them their right to be – or overcoming those that can be overcome and understanding that there’s no full stop after that. Life will always present another challenge, and another.

I know I have strength. I suppose I show a certain strength to the world, but the greater strengths for me personally are the ones no-one ever sees. And those are the hardest to put into words. Mine is more of a quiet strength. I don’t make a whole lot of noise about what I’m going to do next, it’s mostly in my head. But to reach that point, I’ve had to negotiate with myself – talk to myself – many times to get over my insecurities and doubts.

I’ve had doubts so many times throughout my career. Honestly, so many times. Whether I’m questioning myself or having a barrage of people question me and my ability. And sometimes it’s been no fun. It’s been hard and I wonder how I’ve done it. I think, “How did I step out and do that? How did I block out the voices in my head and the voices of other people?”

Courting Controversy

“The media has been having a field day since I came back to Australia in January. I don’t read a lot of the reports, but I hear about it and I have to wonder, “Have we been transported back to 1986?” I just don’t get it. To fight the system, that’s really difficult. I can handle it most of the time, but when it starts involving your family, your partner and your partner’s family and friends, that’s really challenging. And you have to ask yourself, “It’s all for what?”

It’s frustrating, what can I say? You just have to try to get past it. We all wish for a more truthful representation of who we are, but I have had to deal with it my entire adult life. It’s a constant negotiation, my relationship to it: how I handle it, how I get through that day and how I can feel resilient. But I still love what I do, I want to connect with people and I understand the interest in any public person’s life.

I look at Jennifer Aniston, she’s my age, and she’s surrounded by controversy — lucky in love, unlucky in love, all of that. First of all, who decides that? Who decides whether you’re lucky or unlucky? I’ve never met her but I would love to sit down with Jen and start a conversation. I feel we’ve got so much in common. At the end of the day, one of the greatest strengths you can have is being true to yourself. If you’re in the public eye for a long time, you’d need to be Meryl Streep 24/7 to pretend you’re someone you’re not. You’ve grown up with us, you’ve seen us on TV. At the heart of it all is a person and humanity.

Georges Hobeika dress,; and Aquazzura shoes.Photography by Denys Dionysios.
Ashi Studio dress,, and Manolo Blahnik shoes, Photography by Denys Dionysios.

A Life in Isolation

People are so surprised by this, but I am introverted. I am quiet, I don’t go out and I am not the life of the party. But then again, I could be! You just don’t know. My family doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, my boyfriend [the creative director of Britain’s GQ magazine, Paul Solomons] doesn’t know, even I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a cop-out to use my star sign, Gemini, as an example, because it makes total sense to me. My Gemini mind enjoys the challenges and opportunities that come with my job. I like working: my brain likes it; my body likes it.I feel like I’m feeding something.

I was in London when the city first went into lockdown and no-one really knew how long it would be for. That initial period felt like being in some kind of sci-fi novel. It was so weird. We all lost track of time. I mostly wondered about coming home to Australia. And now I am home, which is incredible.

A year ago, I was wondering and catastrophising. But in that lockdown time, I was able to work from my London home, which was interesting in itself [Kylie recorded the vocals for “Disco” from her personal studio]. It was positive. I felt like I had more ownership and I learned to do new things. I’d stay up till two and three in the morning, doing more and more takes. I’d think, “One more, one more, I think I’ve got one more.” I really enjoyed that.

Learning on the Job

Last year, I also launched my wine label [Kylie Minogue Wines, released with distributor Benchmark Drinks]. Funnily enough, I don’t drink a lot of wine, much to the annoyance of my friends. I drink it from time to time — I love to have a glass with people — but I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve poured a glass for myself. I know, it’s weird.

The project started as a flight of fancy. I had been drinking my share of rosé and enjoying it: I like the look of it, the experience of it. But the turning point was when I was in Nashville. It was boiling hot and I’d go to restaurants, eat outside — I was invisible to the outside world, so it was glorious. I’d order the rosé, I’d look at the glass of wine that I was enjoying and think, “I can make my own rosé.” I didn’t know anything about wine back then. It’s not like I’ve had this passion for wine all my life — which I was at pains to make clear with the first launch. I just liked it and that’s what led to the range. It’s been a thrill to be able to send it to friends and say, “Enjoy!”

I’ve learned a lot. I don’t think I have ever entered a business venture without having a lot to learn. I generally start with a passion and then I start to build from there. The team around you can make all the difference — I like to lead by example and, similarly, be inspired by example.

Stepping Back

My work ethic must come from the way I was raised. My dad did seven years of studying to become an accountant. He had another job at  the time; he worked in the Army Reserve corps. He worked, worked, worked. Mum worked when she could but with three kids under the age of five, it was hard. I certainly wasn’t born into wealth, by any means.

I started working at 11 years old, on TV, which didn’t really seem like work — it was more like play. And then from 16, that’s when I really started working, because I loved it, and then I started on “Neighbours”. When you’re filming every day, you can’t be late, you have to know your lines. There’s a diligence. It’s not about you, it’s about your team. That experience has informed and shaped how I got through the last 30-something years.

Something I realised during the London lockdown, when we couldn’t go anywhere, was how much travel I have done in my life — the pinging from one place to another. I started to feel amazed — aah-mazed — by my life so far but I’ve also learnt that you don’t have to go so fast. I miss travelling a little bit but, like everyone else, I’ve stopped to watch the plants grow in the backyard and to listen to the birds. You appreciate the smaller things.

In my somewhat advanced years, I appreciate holidays more, too. I now understand the beach holiday, for example. I never used to understand that. I would think, “Why would you do that? Couldn’t you go somewhere else and do something exciting?” I’ve now reached that stage where I think, “Yeah, the beach. It’s nice.”

Gucci dress, and Dolce & Gabbana shoes. Hair and makeup by Christian Vermaak, using Dyson Hair Care, MAC Cosmetics and Suqqu. Floral styling by Charlotte D’Arcy. Photography by Denys Dionysios.
Stella McCartney faux-fur coat,; Alberta Ferretti blouse and skirt,; Vicki Sarge earrings,; and Aquazzura shoes, Photography by Denys Dionysios.

All in the mind

Most importantly, over the past year I’ve realised that I still want to do this job for as long as I can. Months ago, I was dreaming of touring. I’m still dreaming of touring, actually. I’ve operated with varying degrees of adrenaline for pretty much my entire life. It’s been very weird, in the past year, to just stop. I’m not alone in that, of course. Now I’ve been in neutral gear for a little bit and I’m thinking, “I was in fifth gear for the last five years, how am I even going to get into first?” But like a lot of things, it’s more difficult in your mind than it is actually doing it.

Actually, speaking of the mind, one thing I discovered a long time ago is that because I have these constant conversations in my head, I will truly believe that I’ve said something to someone, but I never actually said it. It’s hilarious. The person will look at me and I’ll say to them: “What do you mean? I’m sure I told you.” Ah, no. It’s just the committee in my head that’s talked about it.

You can spend 22 hours of the day worrying about a show – I certainly do. I worry about what’s going to happen. Is everyone going to be prepared? Am I going to be OK? What is the audience going to be like? Have the trucks arrived? How is my voice today? At some point, I realised that those two or two-and-a-half hours on stage are really not the hours to worry, because there are no ifs, buts or maybes. It’s happening. You troubleshoot in the moment. It’s the reverse of what I thought for so long.

On Taking Charge

I’m tempted to set up a home studio here in Melbourne, now that I know what to do and how to do it. This year, we will do a repack of “Disco” and that instantly gets my neurons firing – what else can we do? What will that lead to? There’s a lot to play with. I’m curious. That’s what drives I will, for better or worse, give anything a go. I’ve made mistakes, of course, trusting people and assuming their judgement was better than mine, but my team and I try to be as considered as we can. It’s easy to look back and go, “Hmmm, this could have been better,” but you’ve got to let those things go.

I try to have a good team. I have learnt over the years that sometimes it’s good for everyone to sort the wheat from the chaff. I’m very sentimental and that can be difficult as I’ll try and hang on until the last possible minute, but there’s definitely been points in my life and career when I’ve needed to make changes, and change is uncomfortable. I’ve learned that it’s OK to say no. But you do have to be a diplomat sometimes and try to understand everyone’s job, which is impossible to do. I try to be a strong leader. I show people how hard I work – and that it would be great if they could work equally hard.

So, on the subject of strength, I mostly show my strength by example. Fewer words. Just, “This is how it is.” If you don’t get it, “See ya!” Authenticity not only makes a project that much more engaging and fun, it makes the challenges worthwhile and the results sing.”

A version of this article appears in print in our launch edition, Page 37 of T Australia with the headline:
Nobody’s Princess
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