Kylie Auldist is currently riding high off the international success of her single ‘This Girl’, as the featured vocalist of Melbourne Hammond Organ three-piece Cookin On 3 Burners (as remixed by Kungs). What a perfect time, then to release her new solo album ‘Family Tree.’ Her fourth album moves away from the straight up rustic soul of previous efforts and heads straight for the late 70s and early 80s Disco-Boogie sounds, with producers Lance Ferguson and Graeme Pogson helping Auldist get in to the Chaka Khan-esque grooves.
CA: Well well well, if it isn’t chart-topping soul singer Kylie Auldist!? How are you? No doubt eating oysters, drinking champagne and living the high life of the back of THAT remix, eh?
KA: It’s nice that people have that impression of me and it’s one I aspire to of course! Unfortunately the cold harsh truth for most musicians is that the oysters and champagne are always one step down the priorities list while recording and touring new music bites into the budget! Ok maybe I’m drinking a little champagne as well and I’m definitely enjoying the opportunities the success of this song has afforded me with gig offers coming thick and fast from the UK and Europe where ‘This Girl’ by Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners is the smash hit of summer! The fact that my voice is sounding out around the world means a lot to me. It’s a great spring board, and I hope its providing some subliminal advertising for my latest solo album Family Tree which is out in the UK on 29 July and Australia on 5 August.
CA: It must quite a thing for musicians and songwriters when their music becomes popular almost a decade after the first release, right? It must be quite validating. Have you had any moments where you thought, ‘yeah, we WERE right.’?
KA: DJ Miss Goldie recognised the greatness of the track from the start and it did go to the top of the iTunes funk and soul charts in the UK. I’ve been singing it all this time with Cookin’ on 3 Burners live on stage so there was never a time when we didn’t think it was an awesome tune.
CA: Has there been any other songs from your back catalogue, either as collaborations or your solo stuff that you kinda wish had gotten this much attention? I know you can’t pick a favourite (like kids) but are there are any you’re really proud of that should also dominate world charts?
KA: That’s a great question. There’s about 20 years of material that I thought should’ve been number one! Mega Bias - a band I was in in the 90s had some hilarious and clever songs that should have gone further. Maybe some little upstart will remix them one day - hope it’s before we die!
CA: So on to Family Tree. It’s a winner. It’s like, that proper late 70s early 80s boogie sound but with some really modern flourishes. Like a Morgan Geist/Metro Area level of quality. How did you and Lance find that middle ground between making it authentic but also trying some new stuff out?
KA: Lance and I decided to indulge in my obsession with 80’s boogie and invited Graeme Pogson to co-produce the album with us. Graeme plays in my live band and is the drummer for The Bamboos, as well as performing in his own outfit GL. He is an expert on 80s boogie, beats and samples and is just an all-round clever guy with a great ear and an amazing work ethic. I’m so lucky to have had them both on board to make this record!
CA: That boogie sound has always crept in and out of being cool but do you feel like more soulful stuff is generally more acceptable and making a bit of a comeback outside of ‘the scene’?
KA: Soulful stuff always hits people in the solar plexus so even if its not cool I think listeners will often dig the music and hopefully feel confident enough to support music that isn’t mainstream. I think if you enjoy something the feeling translates into it becoming cool! I make this kind of music because its what I like to listen to, and I’m lucky enough to play with some of the best musos in town who are aficionados in funk and soul and very successful in their own right, so it’s the perfect environment for me to be making this style of music.
CA: You sung on the Bennson album which referenced a similar era, so it’s great to hear you again on this kind of music - have you been much of a fan of Disco and the like?
KA: Ben Grayson’s album is one of my favourite slices of musical history ever. An actual gem. I cut my teeth on Earth Wind and Fire, Donna Summer, Silver Convention, Brothers Johnston, then I moved on up to 80s electro dance and I can’t ever deny my heritage!
CA: You’re quite prolific, between your solo stuff and your collaborations. Where do you find the time and inspiration to write so much music?
KA: I’ve been very lucky. I have a supportive husband and family who allow me the time to work on my music both through the recording process and with live touring too. I also have great mentors like Lance Ferguson, Graeme Pogson, John Castle, Felix Zappone, Damon Grant, Warren Hunter and all the boys in my live band and in The Bamboos, who’ve helped and supported me the whole way. I probably shouldn’t start naming people cos there’s way too many to mention.
CA: Talk us through some of your influences. I know that’s a lat question but you’ve covered so many styles of soul music, we’d be keen to hear who are the singers you aspire to and then it’s up to us to join the dots on which influences have come through on which tunes.
KA: I started with Rod Stewart and BB King. Mama Cass. Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand. The Fleetwood Mac Rumours album was big in my childhood. Stevie Wonders voice and phrasing amazed me. Jackson Browne’s song writing. Then Prince took over and all was lost!! Gladys Knight, Aretha always. Chaka Khan blew my mind. Whitney of course. Then Mariah and I couldn’t sing like her so I thought singing was over for me!! Eventually I found my own voice and songs to suit myself. And joining The Bamboos was like the Cinderella shoe moment!! It just fit!
CA: Do you get to go clubbing? Is it hard to make a dance floor album when you don’t go clubbing? (Ignore this question if you still go clubbing)
KA: I get paid to go clubbing at the moment!!! It’s hilarious, my recent touring around the UK has seen me sing ‘This Girl’ in clubs from Liverpool to Wales to Manchester to Scotland. The kids love the song and go crazy, chanting the chorus and filming me on their iPhones before jumping me for selfies after my set. I drink expensive champagne then go back to the hotel. Sleep. Wake. Repeat! So I’m now a clubber again. Crazy!! But fun. And dance music will always be addictive to me!!! Life’s good!
CA: You managed to collaborate with King Merc for this, who we haven’t heard since Bamboos’ ‘You Aint’ No Good’ - he’s quite talented, isn’t he?
KA: He’s all that! I finally got my name in a rap!! Have I made it???
CA: Any last shout outs you want to give? Anything we have not talked about that you want to come through on in this interview?
KA: Well realistically this moment in the spotlight is all completely unexpected and fun and I want to thank everyone who has supported me to make music over the years. You never know if anyone will ever listen to your music even after 20 years of hard slog. Now it seems there is no escape!! My voice is blasting out of transistor radios, shop fronts and and airports from Russia to Greece, Germany to Tasmania and all the way back to Glenroy! And in the midst of what will be four tours to UK and Europe over June – September this year, I’d love to shout out about some live gigs in Australia including 12 August at The Night Cat, 13 August at Caravan Music Club, and will soon announce my national album launch tour which is set for October and November winding up at Queenscliff Music Festival! Stay tuned for dates.
Interview conducted by Huw Araniego-Ellis
Family Tree is out now – get it here.