Miss a Thing
I Love It
Where Does the DJ Go?
Dance Floor Darling
“A disco ball allows you to see light in the darkness,” Kylie Minogue tells Apple Music, neatly encapsulating why her 15th album DISCO is a welcome bright spot in a distinctly dingy year. “I’ve turned off the dirt road and onto the supersonic highway—straight to the galactic disco.” Indeed, DISCO is a marked departure from 2018's country-tinged Golden, transporting its listeners straight to the kind of packed dance floor they could only dream of amid 2020’s global lockdown. And yet DISCO was recorded during isolation in a makeshift home studio made up of clothes rails, curtains, and blankets—all of which earned Minogue her first engineering credit (“I went to recording kindergarten and had to learn to use GarageBand,” she says). Minogue, of course, isn’t the only artist turning to disco as a radical form of escapism in 2020, a year that’s also seen Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware, and Róisín Murphy experiment with the genre. “At its inception, disco was a way of allowing people to dance through their struggle and pain,” says Minogue of why rolling back the years has proven such a tonic. “Some of the best disco songs are mission statements of strength. Even though I started recording before the dramas of 2020, there is a correlation.” Read on as a music legend takes us inside the thrilling DISCO, one track at a time.
“‘Magic’ is a kind of hors d’oeuvre for the album. The main course will be coming in a while—and leave space because there is going to be tiramisu. It feels classic, grown-up, and polished, but there's still an element of surprise with the falsetto notes.”
Miss a Thing
“I first heard the demo for this in February and loved it. It fitted the brief: There was enough disco in there, but it also felt like a fresh interpretation. I was due to fly to LA in March and work on it with one of the key writers, [Finnish songwriter] Teemu Brunila. Then of course lockdown happened so we ended up working remotely. I had a meltdown one day with him. I was trying to do this vocal and I was so exhausted, and stressed, I couldn’t. I felt like I was failing him and me. I didn’t go to the full cry, but I came close. All this, and yet we’ve never met. I can't wait to give him a hug when we finally can.”
“Because I was recording my own vocals at home, I found myself doing a lot more takes than I usually would, to the point where I literally had to back away from my laptop. ‘Real Groove’ was one of the songs where I did the most takes. I wanted to take the melody down half a tone. We experimented with doing it lower, but ultimately the higher notes were the sweet spot. You don’t know what’s coming, and then the song ends up really pumping. It was worth the effort.”
“I almost gave up on this track. It initially had a different chorus, so it took some juggling. We had to dig deep and nail it with a proper chorus. I became quite insular in lockdown and didn’t really go out much, but I listened to a version of this during a rare walk and it started to make sense. It was so uplifting and cool. It’s so different listening to music away from the environment in which you’re making it. Hearing it on a sunny day, taking a stroll, I really felt: ‘This is going on the album.’”
“There’s a vocoder voice at the start of the song. In my mind, it’s the voice of a little space creature who’s my friend in the song. I’m always drawn to celestial words and imagery, so this was a fun chance to play with all of those elements. I think making it slightly spacey was a way to do disco without being trapped in the 1970s. [Songwriter] Skylar Adams, who also co-wrote and produced on this, has a baby boy called Jupiter, so we wanted to work his name into the lyrics too. If you weren’t awake before ‘Supernova,’ you’re awake by the time it starts.”
“You need a rest after ‘Supernova,’ and ‘Say Something’ is a chance to calm down and reflect a little. It’s one of those songs that just dropped from the sky. I recorded it in my first session, before I even had a timeline or an album planned. I was working with [writer and producer] Biff Stannard and [British songwriter] Ash Howes, who I’ve worked with a lot, and [producer] Jon Green, who I worked with on Golden. I knew that the three of us would do something different, but I didn't know it would be this. It started as a beat, and we were all just singing into a microphone to capture everything. The ‘love is love’ part is almost like a different song, but somehow it lives with the rest of it. The song literally spilled out of us that day.”
“‘Last Chance’ is very inspired by ABBA and the Bee Gees. I was obsessed with ABBA as an eight- or nine-year-old. They’re pure perfection. I can't compare with these all-time epic, amazing songs. So what I tried to do was absorb them, try to understand them and then just stay on my own path. This was one of the last songs that came about, just as the doors were about to shut. It just goes to show you've really got to keep going until it’s closing time.”
I Love It
“This was another one that I started working on with Biff, a day or two before lockdown. Again, it had a slightly different chorus, which just wasn’t hitting it. We didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so when I was making changes at home I chipped away at it and added the line ‘So come on, let the music play, we’re gonna take it all the way,’ which was inspired by Lionel Richie. That little restructure lifted it to where it needed to go, and it found its place on the album.”
Where Does the DJ Go?
“I wrote this with songwriters Skylar Adams and Daniel Shah, and Kiris Houston, who’s a wonderful instrumentalist and very hands-on. It was in the period just before lockdown, so we were acutely aware that something was happening. The lyric ‘The world’s trying to break me, I need you to save me’ echoes how we were feeling, and the ‘Singing I will survive’ line was inspired by the Gloria Gaynor song. It was our way of saying, ‘Please pull me out of this situation!’”
Dance Floor Darling
“There are songs on the album that have another meaning to them, or a slight melancholy. ‘Dance Floor Darling’ doesn’t have any real depth to it, but I think it feels like a hug. It feels like a wedding reception where everyone’s eaten sufficiently, had a few drinks, all the official stuff’s out of the way, and—especially once the track speeds up in the middle eight—Gramps is on the dance floor. It makes me picture David Brent busting out his dad moves. We wanted escapism, and we committed to it.”
“Earlier I was describing ‘Magic’ as an hors d’oeuvre. Well, ‘Unstoppable’ is a refreshing sorbet, a palate cleanser. I worked on it with [songwriter, producer, and instrumentalist] Troy Miller, who is another writer I only know from the waist up on Zoom. The vocals are quite different, and I wasn’t sure if he was pleased with what I was doing when we were recording because he really didn’t say much. But it turned out he just wanted to go with the vibe and let me go for it!”
“I’ve never written a song in the third person before. The character of Mary was born out of mumble-singing melodies. Mary is anyone and everyone who needs reassurance that we are enough and we're loved. The last part of the album has a pretty high BPM, so ‘Celebrate You’ is the wind-down. It’s last orders at the pub—all of the family’s there, and Auntie Mary’s had a few too many. I’ve introduced you to this stellar landscape, we’ve gone to supernova, but we’ve come back down to Earth. This is about heart and connection.”