Date: 5 January 1985
Originally published in: Record Mirror (UK)
Kim Wilde’s comeback, all XL packaging (they do Frankie) and Daily Mirror front pages was about some rude business. Her ‘Second Time’ single didn’t mute the gab… it was EXPLICIT. This girl wants something and that boy, well, he can only work up the enthusiasm for a solo run. JUST GO FOR IT… and nobody noticed.
Which is always the way with Kim. No concepts (ignore the packaging), no irony, no touch Of art school, no greed masquerading as flash, no great big ideas. Kim just is. And what she is, doesn’t quite add up in the numbers game.
Her family might be popbiz, but they’re trad popbiz. And so is Kim: a girl from the Sixties, slightly awkward under the video glare. She doesn’t quite do things right – look at her early promos, very unflattering – and her enthusiasm, all clomping ‘n’ gushing in the world of cool cheekbones, isn’t quite there.
But all this makes Kim an interesting girl. A freak whirlwind in the age of calm, calculated sell. So, with Kim’s second MCA single ‘The Touch’, entering the charts, we had a chat.
‘Second Time’ was a very explicit record, but nobody seemed to notice. Why?
I suppose it was really, but we didn’t really make a big deal about the lyrics. I think it’s really funny. I like the paradox of pop music – that’s what attracted me to it. At one extreme it can be so serious and mean so much and at the other end it can be so trivial. There’s somewhere between the two where you don’t know if you’re listening to something that is really serious or tongue-in-cheek. Songs like ‘Love Blonde’ and ‘Kids In America’, you sing them and they don’t have any profound meaning to them. ‘The Second Time’ was very sexually explicit and that’s totally alien to me. I never talk about sex to the press – I never tell them who I’m going out with. I’m never associated with that side of things. As far as the public is concerned, from what I can make out, I come across as a ‘nice girl’. So I quite like the fact that I was up there singing a song that was more sexually explicit than ‘Relax’ and getting away with it. That’s what I like about the pop business. it can be very silly.
Have you ever been silly, Kim?
I’ve not been happy with a lot of things that have happened in my career. Maybe that’s always the way it is with people. There are very few things I’ve been happy with and it’s something I’m trying to change now. Sometimes you get caught up in a situation where you’d prefer something not to go out, or be released. But you kinda get the same old story – ‘if it doesn’t go out now it’ll be too late, etc. – and because you’re not a walking music business you can’t really answer to everything that goes on. I know what I do, being a pop star and a musical person, but I wouldn’t profess to know very much about any other part of the industry.
What were the biggest mistakes?
Not do more touring, if I’d established that more, it would have helped me now – and musically it would have educated me more. Also there are a few singles that in retrospect I wouldn’t have released. One of the things that I haven’t done that I am beginning to work on now is my songwriting. That’s something that is very important to me.
What are your songs made of Kim?
My songs are quite serious. I don’t want them to stay that way, though. Most people you meet try to be very serious but they have so many different facets to their personality. so when you’re writing serious songs, you’re only writing about one facet of somebody. There’s so much else you have to learn to get out of you.
Will the fact that you’re a girl make it more difficult to establish yourself as a songwriter?
There isn’t really a tradition of English girl songwriters, in the past it has mainly been American girls who have done well. Here there is more the tradition of girls being singers rather than writers. I hope the success of Sade, and hopefully myself, will encourage other girls to get involved in songwriting.
But women aren’t taken as seriously as men in the musicbiz. Are they?
I don’t think you can ask to be taken seriously – people reject you if you do that. To be taken seriously is a natural conclusion of what you’ve done. Generally women aren’t taken as seriously as men ‘cos they’re not such prolific songwriters. I don’t know why that’s the case over here. because if you were asked to think of the top five US songwriters you’d have a few girls in there – Joni Mitchell and Carole King for instance.
Do you think your attempts to establish yourself as an independent songwriter have been inhibited by the reputation of your father and brother?
It did initially yeah, did for the first year or so after my success. I just thought, ‘I can’t do any writing, it’s ridiculous and it’s really nagging me all the time’. So I left home and started doing it from there. I had to find my own place and look after myself. As soon as I got that together and bought the flat and got a four-track and a drum machine I started writing. The most difficult thing was after a day of getting absolutely no ideas at all having to go back and do it all over again. It took me a long time to get to the point where I was actually pleased with everything I did, ‘cos I just threw everything out of the window. But once I got started it was OK. I think the songs I write are very different from Marty and Ricky’s.