LIKE the aboriginal boomerang that she says her name is taken from, actress and singer Kylie Minogue has shown a knack for bounding back. The former Aussie soap opera sensation has taken some hard knocks in her career: she's been spat at by jealous girls; she's been voted worst singer, and second most horrible thing in the world; and has had critics panning her at every opportunity they could find. But the tiny figure bounding into the hotel with bags of shopping in hand and a bright, sunny smile to match the weather looked anything but bothered. With a new record company, a new album out and a new Hollywood movie (Streetfighter with Jean Claude van Damme) in the bag, life is better than ever for Minogue. 'What's great about life? I have a certain amount of freedom in what I do, I have success and respect with the new album and I'm really excited about Streetfighter coming out soon,' she said later over a drink of Evian water. 'I think it's a great achievement for me to still be here at all. In most people's eyes I was meant to be a one-hit wonder or just part of the PWL [Stock, Aitken and Waterman] stable that fell to pieces when PWL did or even before. 'I was meant to be like Bananarama, Rick Astley, Sonia or Mandy Smith - or any of those people from the stable that were disposable. They didn't last . . . we all started in the stalls together. For those reasons, I'm glad to still be here and stronger than ever before. And also I can't think of many people who have made the transition from really teeny pop to more credible music.' Certainly, her self-titled new album - and her first with dance music label deconstruction, known for work with artists such as M-People, The Grid and Black Box - is one of her best, if not her most credible, to date. For Minogue, aside from winning hard-earned respect, the best part of this stage of her career is playing a much bigger part in her new album, even though she has only co-penned one song this time. 'It sounds like a contradiction when I say that I've put more of myself into the album. But there is more of myself in terms of risk. With the vocals you can hear so much more of me, of my personality and my experience, which is why the title is self-titled. 'And it wasn't so much making the choice . . . of what the next single might be but actually being asked what I think. Actually I think that it is one of the responsibilities that I don't like. It's hard to be objective about my songs and I tell them it's up to them to choose what's going to sit right in the market place. But just knowing that I have the choice, that's the important thing,' she said. 'That was one of the guidelines I specified when I signed with deconstruction. I signed with them because I wanted their knowledge and their experience with music, especially the dance music field. I said I wanted an album that I can say, 'this is my album, well and truly mine . . . my heart and soul's gone into it'.' Although friends have congratulated her for making a 'smart choice' in signing with the new label, Minogue says it wasn't their reputation as much as their 'attitude' that impressed her. 'They're not 'Yes, Kylie' people. We disagree and we discuss things. We have a very funny relationship. They're quite nonchalant and none of my [womanly] tricks work on them because they say, 'we've seen it all before'. But it's a nice relationship to have with so much respect and open communication.' Minogue worked on Kylie Minogue for almost a year and a half before it hit the shelves last month, and she admits to a bit of a panic at the long break. 'There was quite a bit of time before we got into recording and I started to panic. I was so used to having single, single, single, album and being very, very constant. So I was worrying, thinking 'that's it, everyone will have forgotten me',' she said. But in retrospect, Minogue sees that her new production team were 'far more sensible'. 'It was the perfect thing to do because it gave me some time to get to know myself again instead of being trapped in the world that I'm trapped in now, just talking about my life and not taking more time to live it. And I thought it was good that the public had a rest from me for a little while, just a little breathing space before we came back with this which was so different for me,' she said. 'Having more time to work on it really helps and just mentally knowing that I did have time, that I didn't have to rush. If I didn't like it I could change it.' As with most new starts, Minogue found working with her producers quite different from her days at PWL where she was one of many on the hit songs production line where the focus was to keep up an endless stream of singles and albums. 'All the producers were really excited about this project. It wasn't like 'how can we squeeze Kylie into our schedule of producing seven million other artists?'. They knew how important it was for me and for deconstruction. And I knew that this was the perfect moment, the jewel-like moment in my career for change and for growth.' Minogue is just as excited about her new attempt at cracking the Hollywood film market with an 'action' film, something she had never imagined she would do before. 'It was fabulous,' Minogue gushed. 'I came away with so much. I mean the studying of martial arts for three months . . . I came away so enlightened by that. It was great fun and it made me be so much more in touch with my body.'