A woman who introduced herself as a psychic bundled up to Kim Wilde and gruffly demanded: "Tell me about yourself. I think I know who you are. I know something about you." To which Wilde responded: "I'm not telling you a thing. I don't know who you are." And the psychic's comeback: "You're going to Australia. And it will be very good for you."
The spooky thing was, Wilde had spent the past weeks planning a promotional visit to Australia, and hardly anybody, except her record company (and psychics) knew about it. On the eve of the trip that's supposed to bring her joy, Wilde still has a lot to be pleased about. She has released a new album, Love Is, and the latest single, Love Is Holy, is her first major hit in a long while.
"There's a lot more of me on this record," Wilde says. "In the beginning, I admit I was fairly fortunate to have my father and my brother working with me as a songwriting and production team." Her father is Marty Wilde, rugged idol of Britain's bobby soxers and the '60s singing star behind the hits Donna and Teenager in Love. Kim's brother, Ricki, had a successful teen pop career, but is relatively unknown here.
"I spent my whole childhood wishing I was somebody else," Wilde said. "Everybody at school used to point at me, or stare at me, and whisper about whose daughter I was. I'm sure they were all curious about what it was like to be Marty Wilde's daughter. But I was just as anxious to be one of them. Just a normal kid. I think I lost confidence during those years. I wasn't very brave.It wasn't until I was much older that I discovered what it really meant. It's uncomfortable being perceived in someone else's shadow and I think my songwriting now reflects the fact that I want to shine on my own." Wilde examines the trappings of fame on a scathing track, Who Do You Think You Are. She feels well-qualified to talk on the subject, having experienced indirect fame, through her father, and personal fame after the song Kids In America (written by Marty and Ricki Wilde) became a major hit in 1981.
"My father always said fame is a tool of the trade. You have to accept it. He always handled it well. He didn't get big headed and think of himself as superior to everybody else, and I am the same. Being famous doesn't make you the Messiah. You should learn that fame is part of the game, and I really don't have much time for people who try to play up to it." In Australia, her success rate is fairly patchy. Only Kids In America and her cover of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On and You Came have kept Kim Wilde in the spotlight. In the UK, Kim Wilde is the biggest-selling British female artist.
"Everybody said I had no credibility when Kids In America came out cause of Dad and Ricki's involvement. I had to take it on the chin because I wasn't songwriting at that time, and I really had nothing to throw back at them, except that fact that it was me singing on the record. It was difficult." Wilde says she dealt with criticism about being too reliant on her family by moving out of home.
"I moved out when I was 23 and went to London. I started writing songs, but they didn't go far. It was hard to save face and try and have unshakeable faith in what I was doing. But I thought, if it takes 10 years or 20 years, I will keep trying for as long as it takes. I'm serious about this." Marty Wilde is not heavily involved in the songwriting aspects of Kim's career these days, although she has retained her brother's services. Ricki and I just know each other so well. We are on the same wavelength and our songs just come together." Wilde has also teamed up with American songwriter/producer Rick Nowells (Belinda Carlisle, Stevie Nicks) on several of the Love Is tracks.
The result is that the album has a heavy American west coast flavor, not unlike the aforementioned Carlisle.
Kim Wilde will be at Brash's, Elizabeth St, city, today at 4.30pm to promote her new album, Love Is.