Last updated at 1:30 AM on 27th January 2012
Kylie Minogue kicked off her 25th anniversary celebrations (which she is calling K25) this week by posting a video of a new version of her 1992 hit Finer Feelings on her revamped website kylie.com.
She is seen performing with a string orchestra at Abbey Road Studios and promises further videos and ‘gifts and surprises’ for fans throughout the year. She has also been recording a new album.
There is a new glow and a vibrancy, giving Kylie a fizz that we haven’t seen for a long time. She knows who she is again.
‘Hanging in there’: Kylie Minogue is celebrating 25 years in the music industry
Very few people manage to look better now than they did 25 years ago when Kylie released her first single. When I tell her this, she gives me her slow trademark smile and says: ‘That’s very kind. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m hanging on in there’.
What has changed is that she’s now able to take a compliment. Praise used to embarrass her and make her coy.
The woman in front of me has none of that. She’s someone who is happy at last in her own skin; a skin you can look hard at and see a few lines.
She is certainly not hiding from her age of 43.
Last year, her Aphrodite Les Folies tour took in five continents, 27 countries and 77 shows. It was Kylie at her most high octane — with not even an interval in the show to catch her breath.
On her previous tour, Showgirl, which
she began in March 2005, she had to take a 16-month break after being
diagnosed with breast cancer.
had a partial mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy,
but as she began her recovery it was important to her to finish the
tour. Still on medication, in November 2006 she took to the road again.
Happy at last: Kylie says boyfriend Andres Velencoso is the most fulfilling relationship she’s ever had
Her only concession to her illness was to reluctantly allow an interval between her exhausting sets, even though it would mean the fans getting fewer songs.
Now she’s passed the five-year all clear mark and is no longer on medication. She told me: ‘Part of doing the tour last year was about breaking from the shackles of the treatment.
‘There are a mixture of emotions because you are letting go of the security you have.
‘You know the medications are doing something because you are being affected by them, but you need to let go.
‘I walked off stage pretty beaten up but I recovered and got up to speed the next day.’
There was no special energy-inducing diet, no strength-building exercise. ‘No, I just went with it,’ she says. ‘A lot of people have been looking at me and saying: “You’re back to your old self. I don’t know how I would look the same . . .”
‘My face has gone through a lot of changes. If you look back to before I was ill there was nothing of me.’
During her illness, she says that her faced puffed out with steroids so that she could hardly see over her own cheeks. There were days when she didn’t want to go out.
Bad boys: The singer, pictured with ex-boyfriend Olivier Martinez, admits she used to be attracted to ‘complex characters’
‘You’re stripped completely and I stayed indoors. My family got me through some really rotten dark moments.’
Before the illness, she’d always been afraid to reveal her feelings. Now there’s an openness about her.
‘I love what I do. The more I learn, the better I am at it. It’s like discovering a new kind of freedom. I’ve learnt recently that I can still be in a fulfilling relationship. After you have a break-up you wonder if you can do this again.’
Her previous long-term boyfriend, Olivier Martinez, stood by her during the worst of the cancer treatment, but they broke up soon afterwards. For the past three years she has been with Spanish model Andres Velencoso, 33.
They met when he starred in the ad campaign for her men’s fragrance, Inverse, but work keeps them apart a lot.
He’s not always there to give her a reassuring hug, but she doesn’t see that as a bad thing.
‘Sometimes if I’ve had a bad day I don’t want to see anyone. I just want to feel miserable on my own.
‘But sometimes it’s nice if someone’s there to bring you out of that state.
‘This just feels right. He’s one of these people you could just drop anywhere and he’d be fine, which sometimes I curse him for.
‘I’m obsessed with all of my nephews’: Kylie says she admired how previously not maternal sister Dannii ‘transformed when she got pregnant’ with Ethan
‘I’m the one who has anxiety. I’m up and down, he’s much more consistent.’
Is Andres her most fulfilling relationship? ‘It is, strangely.’
In the past she was attracted to the kind of sexy bad boy that might have been prone to destructive tendencies. ‘I’m not naming names but I concur. I have been attracted to complex characters.
‘You want to have some complexity, otherwise it would be boring.
‘But finding the balance is important and years ago before I was ill I didn’t find that balance. That’s the lesson I’ve learned. There’s more balance than there used to be.’
They seem very happy and if the situation had been different I’m sure she would have loved to have babies with him. Kylie has always been a maternal girl, but the cancer treatment has affected her fertility.
‘I can only keep saying the same thing, which is, we’ll see. Perhaps it will happen.’
A while back she confided to me that she had considered using an egg donor.
‘And I’ve looked into various other options, but I don’t know if I’m going to go down any of those roads yet.’
Family has always been palpably important to her. She’s very much the proud older sister when we talk about Dannii and her new-found maternal instincts.
‘That transformation happened when she got pregnant,’ says Kylie.
‘By her own admission she would say she didn’t know if she wanted to have children. She didn’t know if she was the maternal type but she is.’
I remember meeting up with Kylie when Dannii had just announced her pregnancy. It seemed tragically ironic because Kylie had always wanted children and Dannii had not.
Yet Kylie was so happy for her sister. ‘I’m obsessed with all of my nephews.’
Her brother Brendan has two sons, as well as Dannii having baby Ethan. ‘Ethan’s very long. The tall gene has officially entered the Minogue family. Lord knows when there was ever one of those.’
Twenty-five years ago, Kylie was mocked for her Eighties perm. Today she is revered for effortless chic.
The 25 years have been packed with highs and lows. What about the next stage of her life?
‘We are planning a number of things. They will take a lot of research yet’.
The planning, the drive, the perfectionism are unchanged. But her lust for life is radically different.
Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite: Les Folies Live In London is out now on CD and DVD.
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Kylie Minogue on the man who’s made her happy at last