Australian megadiva Kylie Minogue's 12th album, Kiss Me Once, plants its pop flags in a lot of different territories — splashy, bell-accented love songs ("Kiss Me Once"), Pharrell-assisted flirtation ("I Was Gonna Cancel"), forward-thinking balladry (the Ariel Rechtshaid-produced "If Only") and even a besotted duet with Enrique Iglesias ("Beautiful"). But the song getting the most buzz right now is "Sexercize," a buzzy booty-shaker co-written by Kiss co-executive producer Sia Furler; to shed light on the many variations on the song's titular theme, Minogue and a slew of collaborators (including the director Roman Coppola, the astrologers Starsky + Cox and National Geographic TV) have launched Sexercize.tv. Rolling Stone spoke with Minogue about the site, preparing Kiss Me Once and the perils of being chatty onstage.
How did you come up with Sexercize.tv? What was the inspiration to come up with so many variations on the "sexercize" theme?
Well, what is sexercize? It's everything, it's nothing, it's everything, it's whatever, really. It was important with that song to have a lot of fun with it — it's not a single, but it's a song that we could get some traction with, have some fun, be a bit saucy. I've been talking to my friend Richard Christiansen, who founded Chandelier Creative, for years, saying, "We've got to do something together." This seemed like the perfect vehicle. It was fantastic to have such great and varied artists take the time and join in on the fun of this project. I've never done anything like this — and I actually can't think of another artist who has, so maybe it's a first? I'm not sure.
It might be. You have the videos for the songs themselves, and the horoscopes and the gifs...
Sextrology! I think one of my favorites might be National Geographic. They blessed our crazy little project. It's quite amazing.
It also shows the universal nature of sexercize, I guess.
All I can say is there are a lot of fans tweeting me pictures of bounce balls and other interpretations of the video. I sent an e-mail to the director when we were going for edits, and I signed off, "Love, Kylie, fully qualified Sexercize instructor (TM)."
I was wondering if people are developing a class around the routines in the video.
I would be so tickled if someone did!
You co-executive produced this album with Sia Furler. What was it like working with her? How did you decide what to put on the record?
I'd been working on the record about four or five months before Sia came on board. I had already had a couple of songwriter and recording sessions with her, and they were fantastic — I'm such a fan and admirer. We got on great, so I asked her if she would come on board as executive producer, and to my delight she said yes straightaway. From there, I loaded her up with everything I'd recorded — good, bad, some things were great already, some were just ideas. Then she just held my hand, really. I had guidance from my A&R, my record company, my management at Roc Nation, etc. [Sia and I are] both Australian, we're female, we're in this industry, we're in it quite differently — I adore what she's done with her career, and she still very much believes in someone like me, who is out there at the front line of pop. It was a great dynamic. And then we tried to record and record — and I recorded plenty — and tried to come up with a good track list for the end result.
Did she bring in "Kiss Me Once" in the initial sessions? I'm sure you've heard this, but it's such a "Kylie" song, so grandiose.
I know! It could have been from my first album.
It wasn't in the first session. She played it for me, I loved it, recorded it — and then I almost thought it disappeared, because you get so into whatever the latest thing you've been recording is. But it came back, and I was thrilled that it hadn't been forgotten. And it's given way to being the title track and the look of the campaign. My band loves new music — they love the cool stuff, beats like "Sexercize" or "Mr. President." But when it comes to singing and performing "Kiss Me Once," we actually want to repeat that one.
Talking about the band made me wonder: You have such spectacular live shows. When you're putting together a record, do you envision how songs will translate to the live setting? It seems like "Les Sex" and "Kiss Me Once" will lend themselves to splashy productions.
Yeah, some songs have quite an immediate visual identity, at least in my mind. A song like "Into the Blue" didn't really have that — I think it's quite simple, so I don't think there'll be too much going on with that. But it's important to have that in the set as well — something where the viewer can just be absorbed by the song and the general "atmos." We've done a few little promo gigs that included "Les Sex" and "Sexercize," and those songs' identities are already growing.
How was working with Pharrell? He's had such a great year.
Yes, he's had a vintage year. [Laughs] I was really excited, because I would have loved to have worked with him years ago, so the time was meant to be for this album. It was interesting — I had a meltdown on day two in the studio, but that gave way to a fantastic song ["I Was Gonna Cancel"], which will be my second single.
I was actually wondering if the next single was going to be the Enrique Iglesias duet "Beautiful," which seems like it's going to become a wedding staple.
We're hoping that'll be a single as well. I hope we have four singles from the record — that'll be amazing. "Kiss Me Once" is a contender as well.
Are you in tour rehearsal mode yet?
We haven't started rehearsing for the tour proper, but all the rehearsals and work we're doing for the pop-up gigs helps. For me, it starts to get my muscle memory with the songs — it's different performing them live than in the studio, so it takes me a few performances to get it in my system. For the big tour, I imagine I'll do seven tracks from the new album, and the rest will be as many hits as we can squeeze in.
There are a lot.
It really does blow my mind that I have that problem, although you can hardly call it a "problem." My first tour, I had to fill the show with covers and whatever I could, and it was quite a short show! Now, we kind of go two, two and a bit hours, and by the time I've chatted to everyone — I start and I don't stop, and I have to say to myself, "Hey, let's get on with the show, because it's not your lounge — it's a stage, and there's a curfew!"