Date: 16 October 1982
Originally published in: Sounds (UK)
Written by: Rose Rouse
I was trying hard to walk on the wild side but I got tied up in knots and tangled up in temerity on the way. The temptation was there – getting to the core of Kim Wilde – yet simultaneously I was aware of the gruelling experience for the victim. Could I really join the prying press in the pursuit of hot steaming copy? At what price words? Would my conscience be my contradiction?
Shit – I missed my chance! Kim Wilde’s intimate secrets are still intact. Her showbiz conditioning insists on putting up the barriers. She makes contact but she has been well trained to dole out her divulgences cautiously. Not that I can blame her – it’s the sensible approach. Kim Wilde has got it sussed as she would say. The nitty gritty is well submerged under a coating of rational judiciousness. You are only allowed to skirt the edge of confidentiality, then the bars go up.
She is friendly, warm and open but if the questions get too close to the core, she will laugh and skip away to a more pleasant issue. Obviously she respects the machine that she is caught up in and no way is she going to upset any applecarts. It’s very irritating. My journalistic fantasies take a beating. I want her to rebel against her goody two shoes image but she doesn’t. I wanted to start the article by saying ‘Kim Wilde is a spoilt bitch who suffers from an extreme case of self-love. She pouts for attention and stamps all over her helpers” because I am so sick of all the nice girl stories. Every article I’ve read about her starts ‘Kim Wilde may be a popstar but she’s just a normal girl’. However lie can’t be manipulated so crudely by the pen and she stay resolutely nice. Actionally – it’s not really so extreme. She is honest, direct, intesting and likeable. I just wish she didn’t play it so safe. She doesn’t allow herself one dangerous move and it’s a shame. Her confessions are careful.
We’re sitting in the RAK records office trying to make the best of an artificial situation. At this point, I am meant to launch into a description of the gold discs on the wall. Unfortunately we must be in the wrong room because there aren’t any. Gold discs are status symbols for a record company. Kim Wilde has got one or two to her name already. She is the perfect example of the modern rise to fame. Her pop CV reads like a record company’s dream. The product prospers – she went straight into the studio and out again with the hit single ‘Kids in America’ as her first record. It reached number two. It was like one of those supermarket mixes for cakes – an instant success.
There were no inbetweens, she bypassed the gigging, ligging and hard times and zoomed to the top. With ‘Cambodia’ and ‘View from a bridge’ following on – she has never looked back. Some people must hate her. She does seem to have had her bed feathered with fortune and more appositely the right connections.
Her father Marty Wilde (the 50’s rock ‘n’ roll dreamboat) helped her in more ways than one. He knew the right avenues in the biz and had enough wisdom on tap to encourage her. his words of advise are responsible for her sane grip on the world. Kim Wilde is quietly confident and has got her career firmly in perspective. She doesn’t ook disturbed but…
She has got a reason to be slightly perturbed. October is her real testing time. She is about to leave the cosy cocoon of the studio and expose herself to an animate audience which is a novelty for her. She has just come back from a few warm up dates in Denmark before her tour here.
How was your trip to Denmark?
It was great. i had nothing to compare it to ‘cos it was my first but it was really good. I learnt a lot as well.
How did it feel to be actually on stage?
Very exciting. It’s a completely different feel it’s stretched my voice and made me realise I can do a lot more with it.
How nervewracking was it?
Very. It’s bad enough walking out in front of 2000 people and making a speech – let alone carrying on an act for an hour and trying to get some kind of reaction.
What sort of preparations did you make?
In physical terms – I got myself fit. I gave up smoking a few months ago. I suffered badly from it. I started running as well I even thought about voice lessons which would teach me how to use my voice without knackering it up but that didn’t happen.
Was your initial idea to operate solely from the studio?
No, it’s just the way it happened. I lfet Art School and was at a loose end and I started doing some backing vocals. I was getting a bit of money so I thought this is all right. I’d quite like to do session work. Then Ricki (her brother) started writing songs. He came up with ‘Kids in America’, I recordde it and the next minute it was in the charts. That’s why it’s all back to front.
It must have been weird to make it so fast.
Yeah – certainly meant I had a lot to keep up. Thank God I didn’t have the terrible pressure of having to come up with material that was commercial. My father and Ricki had that worry. I love getting involved with music but I don’t have a very good commerical ear for writing.
Do you feel under pressure because of the imminent tour?
Yeah – I do.
Why – because of people’s expectations?
No, ‘cos of the climate. With three million unemployed it’s a bad time to go out on tour.
You’re not worried about your actual performance?
No I’ve had a lot of rehearsing. I wouldn’t go out unless I felt I could do it.
Your next single is coming out this week isn’t it?
Yeah, ‘Child come away’. It’s got a story line – it’s like ‘Cambodia’ and ‘View from a bridge’ in that respect. It’s a mystery story. I mean you wonder what the hell is going on in it. So did I! It’s weird, a lot of people ask about our songs but I won’t say ‘cos I think the important part of a song is what you read into it. On the other hand – I think Gene Pitney’s ’24 hours from Tulsa’ has a similar approach in the mystery that is involved. I like songs that spark the imagination.
Are you involved in the songwriting?
No in an obvious way. Dad and Ricki write together continuously and I’m often there. I am involved in that I have a say in it. They bounce off my reactions. There’s a lot of dialogue before we finish a song. I’d miss all this if I just got songs sealed and delivered.
Getting closer to the edge
Do you live with your family?
Yeah. We’ve built a studio at the bottom of the garden. It’s a huge room with a piano, a TEAC, all the equipment and guitars. We’re all very involved.
Have you got any brothers and sisters besides Ricki?
Yeah the two kids – a sister who is three and a brother who is two. It’s pandemonium. The press will have a field dayif they sing when they grow up. Talk about a scoop!
It must have been a bit like that for you?
Don’t you find it claustrophobic all woking and living together?
You never want to escape.
Escape! What would I want to escape from?
You never feel it’s too much.
No, I mean it’s not a prison.
You’re quite happy at home.
Yes I am. I like being around people I know and I’ve got friends up there.
What do you spend your spare time doing?
Very boring things – nothing terribly outrageous. No pop star behaviour. Basically I just have a drink now and again with a few friends.
You don’t go out with people from the record business.
I’ve got nothing against that at all but I like to keep my life private and I don’t really enjoy going to nightclubs. I enjoy going to a gig now and again.
What sort of gigs do you go to?
The las tone I saw was Gary Glitter at the Venue. It was great. I learnt some good tips from him.
What sort of things did you learn?
Ah tricks of the trade. He’s very good at communicating with an audience and making them feel involved.
Have you seen any other people?
I went to see the Clash but they’re different. They can’t do anything wrong. They could go and shit all over the people and the audience would love it. I really enjoyed it.
What do you think of your nice girl image, wouldn’t you like to do something rebellious?
No. I’m not interested in upsetting things or doing things just for the sake of them.
I don’t mean doing it for the sake of it.
Well it would be for the sake of it if I did it. I am what I am. I don’t tr yto do anything I’m not. I might not be always together, I might not be incredibly sussed but I’m trying very hard to keep sight of who I am.
Jumping back on – careful analysis
Don’t you feel sometimes there’s a whole world waiting for you to do something outrageous?
Yeah like Keith Moon. I think all that depends on how well you know yourself and like yourself. Most people who act like that have always been like that. If they hadn’t been a pop star they would have been screwed up anyway. I don’t think it’s just a pop star’s disease – it’s a human being’s disease.
Do you think you were brought up to be famous?
Not by the people around me.
What were your Mum and Dad like as parents?
They laid down the law but were loving at the same time. I feel very sane now and I owe it to them. I know other people in a similar position to myself who are really quite unhappy. It’s not just to do with them – it’s to do with how they’ve been brought up.
You never rebelled against your parents.
Well my Dad was very shrewd. He realised that you can’t stop someone doing something by telling them not to do it so instead of saying ‘No’, he preyed on your conscience so in fact you knew you couldn’t do it and feel okay. It was always you who felt bad in the end, I suddenly realised if I was running away from anything, it certainly wasn’t my parents.
Did you live on your own when you went to Art College in St Albans?
No it was so near it would have been an insult to them. I did want to be independent then and strike out but you can gain independence and live with your parents. It’s just a mental thing not a physical one.
Have you had any periods of unhappiness?
Yeah, I think that’s why I can look at myself and think ‘Wow I’m so happy now’.
When were you so unhappy?
When I was at school and during college. I didn’t know who I was, I did – but I didn’t like myself very much. I felt I was a fake ‘cos I went to the same school as the kids whose parents couldn’t pay the rent and there was I living rather comfortably. It was a real chip on the shoulder job which took me a long time to get over. When I became famous I couldn’t really hide it anymore. I had to confront it.
You mean having a famous father?
Yeah. It’s odd how people come to terms with it. Coming to terms with parents full stop is strange enough.
Have the press reported anything about you that you objected to?
Nothing that would make me get up on a stand and shout about it.
Are you conscious of coy sex angle that photographers take with you?
It’s something you get together as time goes by that is – what you should do and how to approach being photographed.
What sort of photographers get the most out of you?
Well, I’ve struck up some quite good relationships with photographers. We usually have a laugh. You wouldn’t believe it from some of the miserable photos that come out of me.
How do you get treated by the guys from the tabloids? What do you do?
I just howl. I go away and howl privately and then come back and start getting pissed off. They look at you and say smile and I find that insulting. You’re supposed to put on the sunny side for the nation which is fine if it’s natural.
Do you say ‘No’ to them?
Yeah all the time.
To what sort of things?
Just things I wouldn’t feel easy doing.
What sort of things do they ask you to do?
Show a leg, wear shorts, have a low top or they want to do a photo session in furs or sexy underwear. I’ve had some very strange offers. There was one photographer from an unnamed magazine and he was so insulting. I laughed ‘cos if I hadn’t I would have screamed. He was putting out his hand and saying ‘Come on, come on’. It was disgusting.
The final wise words
Do you feel responsible in what you say knowing that a lot of young people will probably copy you?
I do feel responsible. I think it’s good if somehow I can get people to say ‘Kim is into being herself and at least being honest and truthful.’ They can learn an attitude. I’m going to sound like Toyah in a minute. “I’m going to be me”. Anyway that’s what my Dad did for me. He made me look at myself as an individual and nurture that and don’t imitate. Look at other people but do your own thing – that’s how to get happy.