MORE than 20 years after she entered the music industry as a founding member of Destiny’s Child, there remains a refreshingly unfiltered air to Kelly Rowland.
Genuine conflict is hard to find in the relentlessly upbeat world of Nine’s singing competition The Voice — but when we mention Rowland’s
She confirms that a long-awaited new Kelly Rowland album is coming — she promises wall-to-wall bangers, dance fans — and her quick response to one cheeky question demonstrates that she still fiercely protects the Destiny’s Child legacy.
Oh, and she knows she’ll never escape one hilarious early noughties meme that haunts her to this
You recently tweeted that you love Sydney, but not our paparazzi. Are ours really worse than those in other places?
Yes, only because you don’t see them. They’ll hide behind a pillar, then disintegrate into thin air. I don’t know what happens, but they find a way to move so stealthily. They’re paparazzi ninjas — you’ve gotta be super careful.
I need to ask you about a devastating robbery that you witnessed last year: Fasika coming third on The Voice.
OK, so [Rowland takes a deep breath and grits her teeth]. Number ONE: I think what shocked me about last year is because it was my first year, I was trying to figure out what the Australian public was basing the decision off. Someone told me that some people in Oz feel like if you’re too good, then you shouldn’t be on the show … but, why not? I do think you should watch people grow, but at the same time, you deserve a great show each week. You deserve great artists. We have people on the show this year, and I’m like: If the Australian public don’t vote for this person, I’m just gon’ have to walk out. I just won’t get it.
Fasika really had the whole package — your Proud Mary duet was spectacular.
Judah’s great, don’t get me wrong. And Hoseah was GREAT. If I had a choice, Hoseah would have won. I’m just being completely honest. Well, for one, Fasika should’ve won. [But] when it came down to the two, I felt like Hoseah was more a voice I’d listen to on the radio. But way too many people were like, ‘Yes, Judah!’ I was like: ‘Guys. FASIKA.’ It depends on what sort of artist you want to win and represent Australia. I’ll always think about that: It should have been her.
Some people probably assume coaches on shows like The Voice aren’t really that invested in their contestants, and yet here you are a year later …
… And I’m still feelin’ a way. Definitely still feelin’ a way. That’s why I’ve said, if somebody goes home that I love this season — even if they’re not on my team — I’ll want an explanation. I just want to know the logic. Please, TELL ME YOUR LOGIC.
Does it change the way you approach this season? If you have a ‘ready-made star’ on your team will you advise them to downplay their talents?
No! [Laughs] They’re showing their authentic talent, why should they apologise for it? I also like having a lot of different types of talent on my team, people at different stages.
At this point winning a show like The Voice is no guarantee of success — do you think these kids realise the real work starts after the show?
I think the work is there the whole way through. You have to think about social media, engaging and gaining fans through the whole process. You have to allow these people in and share this whole moment with them. At the end, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but at least you’ve hopefully amassed this following that you can share your music with.
You’re coaching alongside Delta Goodrem, Boy George and newbie Joe Jonas this season. Which one would you most like to duet with?
I’d love to duet with Delta, that goes without saying. And I hear George humming these reggae melodies and it’s the coolest thing. Then there’s Joe, who’s always open to different types of genres.
Who would you most like to be stranded on a desert island with?
Joe. He is so smart and he’s gonna figure everything out. He might even build a boat out of sand.
And who would you most like to join Destiny’s Child, as an honorary member?
[Immediately and very firmly] No, there’s only three in Destiny’s Child. There’s only room for three.
It’s been five years since your last album. Is new music coming?
I’m working on stuff. I really have been critical when it comes to tempo — I didn’t want another album of ballads and mids. But up-tempo records are the hardest to get, because if they’re not mad corny, they’re too trendy, or they’re just not … good enough. I’m in a very happy space in my life and I want that to be reflected in the record, so tempo has been the hardest thing to manage. Also, me changing my mind so much about what I want. I know my fans are sick of me, but it’s coming!
Finally, I want to ask you about an incredible moment that happens in the video for your 2002 Nelly duet Dilemma. We see you sending Nelly a text via Microsoft Excel, then looking angry when he doesn’t respond.
I know, that damn text, right? I don’t get it! I don’t get it. What is it, Microchip?
Microsoft Excel. So, like, you’re texting him asking where he’s at — but you’re writing it in Microsoft Excel. He’s not gonna get that text.
OK, so that wasn’t supposed to show up. And nobody knew that years later someone would look at it and go, ‘Oh my god, that’s Microsoft text’. They were supposed to transpose a cuter message in, I guess, that would not look like it was written in [Excel].
It’s funny the life that it continues to have.
It comes up every two months, no lie. At first I had to get my sister to explain it to me: ‘It’s Microsoft Excel and it makes no sense. He’s never gonna see it, Kelly.’ I was like, ‘Ohhhhhhhhh’.
Season 7 of The Voice Australia premieres soon on Nine.