On a recent Monday night at Café Carlyle—one of the Upper East Side’s more storied jazz spots—Kylie Minogue could be found leading a crowd that included Lucy Liu, Coco Rocha, and a who’s-who of New York fashion designers in a simultaneous chant of the “la la la’s” in the chorus of her iconic hit, “Can’t Get You Out My Head.” She’s performed the song countless times on stages across the world since it came out 21 years ago, but it turns out this was the first she’d done it in the style of a stripped-down, jazzy piano bar arrangement. The room was so small that even when she wasn’t singing directly into the microphone, you could still hear her voice carry into the audience. “Normally I probably would’ve said, ‘Well, could we have, like, an acoustic version of the band?,’” she says later that week, seated on a couch in a suite at the Hotel Carlyle. “They said, there really isn’t space.” Instead, she worked out completely new piano arrangements for five songs, just for the night. After three-and-a-half decades in the business, if Kylie Minogue is going to do something, she’s going to do it right—especially if it means trying new things.
The performance was the highlight of a whirlwind blitz across New York promoting Minogue’s recent move into an entirely new industry: Kylie Minogue Wines. (She’s “promoting that bottle of wine harder than most main pop girls promote their albums,” quipped one Tweet.) Since launching internationally in 2020, the brand has become a runaway hit. Over five million bottles of the wine have been sold, her line of rosés have reportedly become some of the best-selling in the United Kingdom, and she picked up a Golden Vine Award for Wine Entrepreneurialism in 2021. “My main concern was quality,” Minogue said of her product. “There’s no point to waste my time—and everyone’s time—if it was a product that we didn’t really believe in, and didn’t think had a chance of longevity to become a proper brand.”
Minogue’s pursuit of quality and novelty led her desire to launch a wine. Back in 2017, Minogue was inspired to incorporate country influences into her signature dance-pop sound for her album Golden; the Australian icon decided to write and record in—where else?—Nashville, Tennessee. “It was very hot. We dined al fresco, drinking rosé,” she recalled. “One night I was looking at this glass and it was just so pretty with the color coming through it. I was in such a good space. I was at a happy point in my life and felt really creative and inspired, and in this moment, I said, ‘I’d love to have my own rosé one day.” A few years later, she met with Paul Schaafsma, the founder of Benchmark Drinks, and ended up putting the final touches on her line while in lockdown during 2020. Of course, Minogue was aware of some of the hurdles that come with a celebrity-backed product.
“I thought they might go, ‘Oh, here comes another celebrity wine,’” she said. “Within the wine community, there may have been some skepticism at first. Understandably, but we’ve followed through. Now I feel like it’s been a big welcome to the wine industry.”
“I really wanted to be genuine about the product and about my position in the market,” she continued. “I know I’m a baby in this. I know we’re just beginning and I know very, very little. It’s also turned out to be have been an amazing voyage of discovery. You know, it’s not the worst day’s work, learning about wine. For a curious person, it’s very satisfying.”
Minogue carries herself with a warm confidence without a trace of diva-like ego, and certainly remains curious. She recently began working on her 16th studio album—and has dedicated the month of July to recording even more. “It’s this really exciting moment,” she added. “There are two or three songs that might [have] a couple little bits of gold in them, but we don’t know.”
After that, Minogue hopes to return to acting more regularly. While filming Leos Carax’s Holy Motors ten years ago, she actually enjoyed the reprieve from being a pop star, and left her musical team behind to focus on the movie. “‘I have to do this on my own,’” she recalled telling them. “‘I have to just be a working actor, turn up, know my stuff, do what I have to do.’ I really wanted to go back to the way I felt when I started, and not be this version of myself that has come over time.”
Who can say where Kylie’s curiosities will take her next? The videos of her stripped-back performance at Café Carlyle had already made their way around the Internet by the time we spoke. I told her a friend had commented that she wanted one of the piano versions of the songs for her wedding, and that the arrangements could have some life beyond just another Monday night performance in New York City. “There could be a little return trip with more than five songs,” she replied.