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> Dannii talks Neon Nights, Ru Paul and Home & Away
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liamk97
post Jun 22 2018, 12:35 PM
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Dannii Minogue: 'I want to work with RuPaul!'
Rob Holley | Independent

Pop star chats about the noughties music, collecting vinyl, and a possible return to Home & Away

Post-millennium dance-pop is criminally overlooked in the wider schemes of things, which is a massive shame because there are some incredibly solid, joyful albums within that genre: Madonna’s Confessions On A Dance Floor, Britney’s In The Zone, Kylie’s Fever and Dannii Minogue’s 2003 club classic Neon Nights.

This year marks the 15th “Dannii-versary” of that album, which enjoyed both critical and commercial success, producing a string of top ten chart bangers that would earn Dannii the nickname “the Queen of Clubs”. On 22 June, Neon Nights gets a deluxe reissue on CD and, for the first time ever, vinyl - so fans finally get to "Put The Needle On It".

We caught up with the nation’s all time favourite X Factor judge (disclaimer: according to a poll conducted in our Love Island WhatsApp group) to chat about noughties pop, collecting vinyl, and a possible return to Home & Away.

Hi Dannii! Why was the early noughties such a great time for dance pop?

It was a great moment in time where record companies gave you the freedom to explore. I went on lots of trips to Stockholm and that played a huge role in creating Neon Nights. There were so many records coming out of the studios over there that I had thought were made in America but they were all made in Sweden. It was then that I realised how much music was coming out of this place before Max Martin and a whole bunch of them moved over to LA.

It really was unbelievable. Their attention to detail and precision is just mind blowing, and once you learn to work in that way you can’t ever work another other way. It was an awesome time. And then I guess, it’s not long after that the music industry shifted towards not having so much freedom and stability - so I guess I was lucky to be riding a wave at the time.

What are your favourite memories from the Neon Nights era?

The chart battle with Christina Aguilera stands out. "I Begin To Wonder" was released and that week we were streaks ahead of every other song, and then on the last day Christina just pipped me to number one spot with "Beautiful". And it was such a deserved song that I couldn’t even get angry about it.

But there were so many awesome moments. We went to Paris and worked with these guys called Neïmo; I was in one room sitting on the end of the bed with a microphone, with the cable coming under the door of the bedroom, and they were all sitting out in a tiny lounge room. That’s how we recorded the songs.

And then they did this mix with "Don't Wanna Lose This Feeling" and Madonna’s "Get Into The Groove", sent it across to Madonna and she approved it! So there I was perched on the end of a bed in this tiny little apartment in Paris and suddenly Madonna’s allowing us to use her track for a mash-up. Incredible memories.

And I guess there’s an irony with the Neon Nights vinyl release that it’s the first time fans are literally able to put the needle on your track "Put The Needle On It" - why do you think there’s been such a resurgence in vinyl?

I find it hilarious when people say “vinyl is back!” because for me it never went away. Growing up, music was about saving your pocket money, going to the record store and buying that one album which you’d play from side-to-side whilst obsessing over the artwork and cover notes.

I still have a lot of the records from when I grew up. I recently found a record box in my parents’ garage and took out all the old discs, carefully cleaned them, put them all in beautiful new sleeves and I just love it. I love adding to my collection with new stuff and stuff that’s been re-released and re-mastered. Music sounds so much better on vinyl.

What's your most treasured bit of vinyl?

Not too long ago there was an incredible moment for me. I was at a coffee shop and someone was selling off a record collection, and I’m working my way through them, just having a look, and there in front of me was this fully in-the-wrapper copy of Rhythm Nation. Janet Jackson. I’m thinking “oh my god, this is gonna be a fortune”.

I say to the guy “how much is this?” and he’s like “three dollars” and the look on my face just dropped, and he said “is that too much?”. I screamed “THREE DOLLARS? THREE DOLLARS? TAKE MY THREE DOLLARS.” Three Australian dollars for a mint condition Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation - that has to be one of my most exciting moments ever!

So the passion for dance music has never gone away - have you got a secret stash of tracks ready for a Neon Nights 2?

I wouldn’t say there’s a whole album worth of material. When we made Neon Nights I had complete focus on that project - that’s all I was doing and there was nothing else that was taking my attention away from that, so it was a pretty special time.

At the moment I’ve got tracks that I really like and some are half-finished, some are finished, but my dream right now is to record a song with RuPaul - that’s my absolute dream.

Whaaaat? For all our sakes - could you just phone him up and ask him right now, please?

Well, I met him years and years ago in New York City through a friend of mine, and he was known in America then but now he’s such a global superstar on a completely different level. I see him and it’s like: same person, same magical quality, he hasn’t changed, he’s got the same incredible energy.

In fact I heard a track by Todrick Hall that Ru did a rap on, "Dem Beats", and it’s one of my absolute favourite songs at the moment. Go listen to it.

So you’re a big fan of Drag Race?

Oh yeah, it’s just so good, and it’s amazing how it’s enlightened people because the audience is now so big and varied. So, I think those are my two life goals right now: to guest judge on Drag Race and to do a song with RuPaul! Ha! That’s all!

And I want to ask you about the 30th anniversary of Home & Away - where do you think Emma Jackson [the grumpy goth played by Dannii in the soap in the early ‘90s] has been for the past three decades?


It’s funny you should ask that because I’ve been having lots of conversations with people where we’ve been trying to work out where we think she’s been, what she’s been doing and, if she did come back, who would she be now? It fascinates me to think it would be something that I could do and it would be awesome to be able to do it really well.

Playing Emma Jackson was the most fun. I’d come out from working in TV as a child [on Young Talent Time] where everything was all super shiny and cute, to playing Emma, this really grumpy, hormonal teenager, and for me that was a lot of fun.

So would you like to make a special trip to Summer Bay this year?

I would love to! The network knows that I would love to. And I’m still working a lot for Network 7 over here so…. I’m sure it can happen.

Neon Nights gets a deluxe re-issue on black vinyl, limited edition blue and pink vinyl and CD on Friday 22 June
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Monzo
post Jun 23 2018, 07:23 AM
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Thanks for sharing, but too sad they didn't ask about new music. I wonder if we ever get another single after "Holding On" and "Galaxy" flopped.
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Tawdry Hepburn
post Jun 23 2018, 10:34 AM
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QUOTE(liamk97 @ Jun 22 2018, 01:35 PM) *
So the passion for dance music has never gone away - have you got a secret stash of tracks ready for a Neon Nights 2?

I wouldn’t say there’s a whole album worth of material. When we made Neon Nights I had complete focus on that project - that’s all I was doing and there was nothing else that was taking my attention away from that, so it was a pretty special time.

At the moment I’ve got tracks that I really like and some are half-finished, some are finished, but my dream right now is to record a song with RuPaul - that’s my absolute dream.


I think this part touches on the possibility of new music.

Great interview, really interesting. The whole Neon Nights era must have been such an amazing whirlwind life experience for her.
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