Kim Wilde interviewed

In England she is celebrated as the most successful female pop singer, for the French she is the ‘Bardot of rock’ and by her German fans she is honoured as the glamour icon of the eighties. On top of that, Kim Wilde is hotter than ever: three years ago the blonde Brit had a hit with Nena at her side with ‘Anyplace, anywhere, anytime’, now the 46-year old goes on tour through Germany: ‘Never say never’ is the title of her tenth studio record with the fitting song ‘Perfect girl’. A talk about the eighties, the success of the first hit, working in Germany and how it is to be perfectly imperfect.

Are you really letting the fans decide, which song from the new album will be your next single, like one can read on your homepage?
Why not? They are the people who have listened to my music through the years and know it best of all. If I were to trust anyone, I would trust them.

Have your fans from the eighties sticked around?
I believe my new album has a lot of potential to reach a new generation of fans. But I do still have contact with fans from many many years ago. I even work with some of them in this business now. For instance, someone who works with the press here in Germany has been a fan of me for many years. That’s unbelievable, isn’t it?

Are the fans absolutely honest with you?
Absolutely, yes.

In ‘Perfect girl’ you sing about the right to be imperfect. In what way are you an imperfect girl?
It’s just that: I am perfectly imperfect. I think there is too much pressure on women to be perfect, more than ever. And it gets to young girls most of all. I would like to jump in there.

Do you like Pink’s song ‘Stupid girls’?
Yes, it’s about exactly the same theme. The theme interests me, because I have a little girl of my own. And she grows up in this world.

When you sing ‘Kids in America’ these days, do you think about different things than in the eighties?
When the song came out, I loved it. It brought me around the world, it was my ticket to fame. But in the course of the years it became a ball and chain. When I would release a new album and someone would say ‘you know Kim, can you sing Kids in America’, I would scream. I wanted to kill this stupid song. When I left the music business ten years ago, I was really relieved to leave ‘Kids in America’ behind. I didn’t sing the song for many years. And then I was invited to sing at a charity concert in my village, to raise funds, together with an Abba tribute band. When they said they would like to do ‘Kids in America’, I didn’t want them to do it at first, but in the end I gave in after all. And then it clicked. They went totally crazy, especially the younger people. And I didn’t get it at first. Then came a few eighties revival concerts with Human League and others. And I enjoyed it ever more. The last thing I thought was releasing the song on my recent album. But Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, who I trust in many ways, said: ‘just listen to what I did to the song’.

He didn’t change it that much.
Exactly. He was very careful about it.

What is good about eighties pop, which is often thought to be shallow?
Pop is one of the few things in my life which I’ve always liked. What we made then was really creative. It celebrates life. It has a good vibe, it is absolutely positive. And that is what people respond to.

Why did you stop making music in the nineties?
I had more than one reason. I felt shrivelled up by the demands of the music industry. I was bored and somewhat depressed. And I knew that it was important to leave before I was thrown out. I made an album I loved, but the record company didn’t. So the door to the outside world came into view. I did not know, what this door would look like, but then it went almost automatically. I met my husband when I accepted the role in the musical “Tommy”, everything changed within six months and that was the door.

And why did you come back recently?
It began with this small concert in my village. Then I accepted the notion to go on tour with ABC and Human League and T’Pau and Nik Kershaw. They were great. I had a wonderful time. I saw my audiences from years ago again. And they were so happy to see me, it was astonishing. I was reviewed positively, all in all it was a great experience. Then the invitation from Nena came – and somehow I got the appetite again, to colour my hair blonde again. The last piece of the puzzle was the meeting with Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen. He convinced me to do the new album.

Many people write about how young you look. Do you do sports or yoga?
No, I’m just a happy person. And I do a little bit of everything. Nothing extreme.

Probably you also benefit from working in the garden. After your pop career you studied horticulture in college and became a much sought after expert. Is it the same for you to speak about rhodondendrons or to sing in front of audiences?
No, it is something completely different. I did have to talk about my projects in front of the class during my evening courses. I was never as shy as I was in front of these 20 people. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I don’t know why. It’s crazy. I felt like a fish out of water. I wanted to be accepted by these people. But if was wonderful to be educated in college. It replaced music totally.

Have you replaced the gardening cd with the music cd now?
The gardening cd will always play.

Is it like having children – to keep taking care?
Exactly. You can never hold back on it. But I never let go of music as well.

Would you advise your children to go into pop or into gardening?
I would advise them to follow their hearts.