'For a long time I hated Kids in America. I was identified solely with that song. It took a long time before I could handle my biggest hit single again.'
She's one of the most famous artists of the eighties and has sold more albums that any other British solo singer. After 10 albums it became silent and it seemed like Kim Wilde wouldn't take to the stage anymore. She started doing gardening courses and presented gardening programmes for British television.
11 years after the last album Now & Forever she's back with a new one. Never Say Never, produced by Nena's producer. Recently Kim Wilde was in the Netherlands to promote her new album. In a hotel suite in Amsterdam I sit down across from her. With her blonde hair and long black dress she still looks fantastic. We talk about her comeback, gardening for children and Kids in America.
How does it feel to be back after 11 years with a new album?
It is slightly surreal, but I do enjoy it. I've got the feeling I jumped in at the deep end. It is a challenge and not the easiest thing I could have done right now. It is a challenge and that's good. It frightens me a bit, and that's good.
What is scary about it?
I am a mother of 2 children, 45 years old and was a pop star 25 years ago. It is a bit scary to be at it again. But it keeps me at my toes. I feel like I'm completing a circle. After being gone for ten years I've come back to where I started from. I re-recorded Kids in America and other old songs. And also recorded some new songs. Kids in America is now 25 years old. Re-recording it was very weird. For a long time I hated Kids in America. I was identified solely with that song. It took a long time before I could appreciate my biggest hit single again.
It started when I did eighties concerts. I thought it was a lot of fun to do, and to meet my audience again. Re-recording was like a barrier I had to get over. Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, who produced the album, was so enthusiastic about re-recording it that he convinced me. When we got Charlotte Hatherley (ex-guitarist of Ash) involved, I became very enthusiastic and it felt like we handed the song over to a new generation. Charlotte plays the song during her live gigs and that makes it alright.
I have to be honest, when I heard you had made a new cd, I doubted whether it would work. But I saw a performance on Belgian TV. You did Kids in America and it looked really good.
I have a feeling that it works. I believe it. I enjoy it and I'm having fun. I can honestly say that I think it's good to do this. Pop music has never made sense, really. But as you get older, you do understand it better. Pop music is the only constant factor in my life and it has never disappointed me. So yes, I am a pop star.
Are you going on tour?
Yes, next year. There's lots of promotion first for the album. People in several countries have become very enthusiastic. First it was just in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, but it is hitting the Netherlands now, and Scandinavia and other countries. We would do a couple of months of promotion at first, but it has become six months now. I look forward to doing live shows. I am going to do a few 'unplugged' things but I'm more interested in real live shows.
When you started this, did you expect to spend so much time doing promotion and a tour? You won't be home a lot.
No, I didn't think this through. You can't always do that. I don't know what my children will think of this. They will probably blame me when they're 17 and on a couch at the phsychiatrist's. 'My mother left me because she wanted to be a rock chick'. I did talk about it with them and asked them to forgive me if I wasn't home too much. I told them it was good for all of us. I hope they bought it.
You could also take them on tour with you like Jack Johnson does. He's afraid that his son will think he's better than other people when he sees the audience screaming for him on stage.
I feel fine that my children don't see that part of my life. My son wants to be famous. I asked him why. 'When you're famous you have lots of friends and lots of money. It's very cool.' I told him that being famous can also mean you don't have friends to trust. Or having people around who are just there because of your name. You can get very lonely. And lose all the money you've earned and then being famous is completely 'uncool'. He looked at me then and said 'Oh, but that's not what I want.' We have these talks at home to show that I'm not better than other people. But on the other hand, for some people I am.
You have written two books. 'Gardening with children' was released in the Netherlands this year. Why did you write it?
When I got married and had children, I wanted a garden for them to play in. Behind our house we had a large field. I wanted to make a magical space for them that was beautiful and exciting. I didn't know much about gardening so I did a course. When I started, England was just going through a horticultural renaissance because of different TV shows. People who had been designing gardens for years were wondering why I started getting involved all of a sudden. But my interest in it was real. I wanted to share my passion with my children. Writing 'Gardening with children' was really a logical step. I wanted to talk about my children and make a book with beautiful pictures of them. This was a great opportunity. My children didn't like posing for pictures, by the way. I had to promise them they would never have to go through this again.
But they do love the garden?
Sure. My daughter asked me if she might come with me into the garden. I didn't feel like it much, but there's no way for me to say no anymore.