Cool of the Wilde

This is the end for Kim Wilde. After this year she is putting it all behind her.

‘This is like a turning point for me. I’ve enjoyed doing the Singles collection, singing those songs, but after this I’m moving on to new things. I’m writing more which is a process I enjoy. Sitting in a room with someone and bouncing ideas back and forth.’

After 13 years Kim Wilde, the girl who began her bleached blonde career with ‘Kids in America’, a song penned by her brother and father has truly taken the reins, writing her own material and forging a distinctive direction herself. Considered by many critics in the 80s to be a flash in the pan, she has more than proven herself and is now recognised as the most successful British Female Solo Artist of all time, having released 26 singles and nine albumswith sales of over 11 million singles and 9 million albums to her tally. ‘That’s more a figure the record company enjoys than I do’, she laughs.

Further recognition cme two years after Kids in america first hit the charts when Kim was given the BPI award for best female vocalist. ‘That meant the world to me. I was nominated along with Annie Lennox and Alison Moyet. I was completely staggered when I got it. I couldn’t talk.’

The beginning of the ride to this considerable pinnacle came through a serendipitous turn of events. While brought up in a musical family it was initially her intention just to do session work in an effort to gain experience, believing there would be more singing and greater variety in such an environment. During one such session with her brother and ather, she was adding backing vocals when Mickie Most came into the studio. Realising that she had the looks and voice for a pop career he decided to take her under his wing. Coming from a family of musicians, her brother Ricky and father Marty were able to compose that first international hit, and created a musical partnership that became the launching pad for Kim’s career.

At this point itw as perceived by many that Kim was very much in the hands of others, that perhaps her look was manufactured. This was far from the truth. ‘There was no attempt to model myself on anyone. I was into second hand stuff. I remember being dressed in the clothes I was comfortable in and Mickie would turn up, with clothes that he thought I should wear. I never allowed it.’

It was a while before Kim actually took to writing her own songs but when she finally made that move releasing ‘Another step’ as a single, it cracked the top 40. ‘There was a great deal of satisfaction when my song cut it commercially.’

While her commercial profile has never been in doubt in her home country, in Australia it has been quite some time between drinks. Considering her prominence in the eighties it is somewhat surprising that Kim had not toured then. It was only the success of ‘If I can’t have you’, this time around that prompted the current tour. The reason for this is because she was mainly a studio based musician, but with tour supporting first Michael Jackson and then David Bowie this changed. With Michael Jackson so much in the news, we had to ask Kim her opinion of the man.
‘I have to real opinion. He locked himself away through the entire tour, so I never really saw him. I can’t tell you what he’s like at all.’

Was David Bowie the same?
‘No he was completely the opposite, very friendly. He helped me a great deal.’

With the experience of these two tours under her belt, Kim made the transition from the studio to the live arena. While still preferring the studio, it is these tours and the performances since that have made her comfortable on stage. She is unaware that Australian audiences are among the toughest in the world, but remained unfazed when I mention ths in the course of our conversation. She is in all things a complete professional never flustered nor ever allowing her private life to spill onto the pages of tabloids.

There are however some things that slip through in our conversation. She is fascinated by the idea of Karma. ‘I believe in many ways that our lives are pre-ordained.’ Currently she is reading a number of books on that subject and self healing. ‘The mind is a very poweful force in healing’, she concedes. ‘More powerful than most people suspect.’

Externally other interests lie with Greenpeace. ‘They’re a great organisation. I became a member when the Rhine was poisoned by a chemical concern in the late 80s. a river that had been there right through our history suddenly killed. It was horrifying. I felt so impotent. By joining Greenpeace I was able to do something about it.’

Adding her voice to that of Greenpeace, writing her own songs and following the Singles collection, starting off in a direction entirely her own, are all indications that the girl who sung Kids in America has matured. Controlled, confident and definite about her future, Kim Wilde shows more promise now than at any other time in her career. Her current tour is the last retrospective we are likely to see. Watch out for her dates, as they will be the last time the old chestnuts will be aired.