There’s something about Kylie: Mark Poston interviews Michael Gudinski
Michael Gudinski has spent almost 30 years working closely with Australia’s biggest musical export, Kylie Minogue. He admits: they’re family. As managing director of newly-launched Parlophone, Mark Poston counts Kylie as one of his label’s treasures. In a particularly inspired moment, Poston arranged to interview Gudinski about his ongoing relationship with the superstar singer and performer. TMN was privy to that lively, funny and touching conversation.
MP: As a music fan who grew up in Melbourne, you are synonymous with music, that particular city and passion for Australian artists. Unbelievably it has been 27 years since you first signed Kylie to Mushroom Records. Since then she’s sold 68 million records, been our biggest global pop export ever, has had #1s around the world, ARIAs, Grammy’s, Brits. Just taking a moment to reflect on that, how does it feel?
MG: It’s a bit surreal really. At the time Mushroom was very focussed as a rock label. It was pretty frustrating because we’d gone to England and had minimal success – a bit like taking coals to Newcastle – with Skyhooks, Split Enz – actually Split Enz were a big band but they were one step away from really, really cracking it. We prided ourselves on the fact that we were always looking at unique and different artists, so when I heard The Locomotion demo, yes, it was really rough and it was a cover, but I’d seen the strength of television through Mushroom’s early years with Skyhooks and Countdown and what it meant as a vehicle and, to be honest with you, even though we did the music for Neighbours…
MP: That’s right, you did too! Everything from what, Kids In The Kitchen, Angry Anderson?
MG: Yes, we did all of that. I heard this song when I was on my way to London and the show was really big in England. My niece and nephew were about 13 and 10. I remember asking them at the time: “This is Kylie Minogue, you must have heard of her?” and they said “Who?” So I rang the office and found out which role she played and then, when they came back from school, I said: “It’s Charlene!” and they started to yell and scream: “You’ve got to be kidding!” As soon as that reaction came, I got on the phone to Australia and signed her immediately.
MP: When did you first meet Kylie?
MG: It wasn’t me who first met her. A couple of people from the office went to meet her parents because I had crazy hair and a beard, and I didn’t want to freak anyone out.
MP: When you eventually met her, was it obvious where her career would lead you both?
MG: She was excited but you know, to say that I had any idea that she could mature into Australia’s greatest pop export and then develop this extraordinary career – because she didn’t tour live in the early days – would be a lie. Full credit though, when she started to tour, she really came into her own and that’s what lead to her moving to England.
MP: Tell us more about that time.
MG: It was a different era; the whole Stock Aitken Waterman thing……
The above article is an excerpt only of a much broader feature in the June issue of the Australian Music Industry Quarterly. To read the full article in your free copy click here