Kim Wilde – Never say Never

Just before it’s my turn for an interview, the doctor came round because she had some voice problems. But fortunately the interview was still on. And there she was, the wet dream of many men in the eighties, the Brigitte Bardot of pop music, pop icon and rockchick Kim Wilde.

‘Kids in America’, ‘Cambodia’, ‘View from a bridge’, ‘You keep me hangin’ on’, ‘Chequered love’ is just a small sample of her repertoire of a total of nine albums, of which Now & forever was the last one in 1995. And then it went silent around Kim. Until in 2003 the German singer Nena (’99 Luftballons’) approached Kim to record a song together for her new album. ‘Anyplace, anywhere, anytime’ became an enormous hit and even landed on first place in the charts. The first European number 1 for Kim Wilde. And now, eleven years after her last album ‘Now & forever’, the tenth album is released soon, ‘Never say never’. And of course the interview starts with that obvious question: why?

But first a look back. On November 18, 1960 Kim Smith is born in the North [sic] London suburb Chiswick. With father Marty, who took on the artist name Wilde as a famous rock ‘n’ roller, and mother Joyce Baker, one of the singers in the Vernons Girls, it is almost natural for Kim to also want to start in music. She followed acting and singing lessons [sic] at the St. Albans College of Art & Design, where she graduated [sic] in 1980. But it’s because of brother Ricky that she would become world famous. Ricky, who was primarily involved in composing, wrote the song ‘Kids in America’, and asked his sister Kim if she wanted to sing it. Mickie Most, owner of a record company, got the demo and offered Kim a contract. In January 1981 ‘Kids in America’ became Kim’s debut single. Later that year, the debut album ‘Kim Wilde’ followed, and after that, she didn’t disappear from the pop scene. The sexy blonde won many music prizes, amongst which the ‘Best female singer’ accolade at the British Phonographic Industry Awards in 1983. She went on tour with Michael Jackson and David Bowie and had lots of platinum, gold and silver records. But in the ninetees her career floundered and an effort to boost her career with the groovy soul album ‘Now & forever’ flopped.

Why a comeback?
To be honest I never wanted to come back to the stage and to make music and all the rest. In 2001 I was asked to participate in an eighties revival tour and I felt it would be great to do that for a while. In 2003 Nena asked me for a duet for her new album and that made me think: if she can do that, then why can’t I? And then it took another two years until I thought, I will do it.

Since 1995 it was silent around the popstar Kim Wilde, but contrary to what most people here in Holland think, you didn’t sit still. You built a whole new career in the mean time.
During my pregnancy of our first child (Harry Tristan, 1998) I was very energetic and I wanted to do something with it. I followed some courses in horticulture (at the prestigious Capel Manor) because gardening had my interest and it was something I could enjoy in the long run as well. I never dreamed I could end up with a new career because of it.

From February 1996 to February 1997 Kim performed as Mrs. Walker in the London West End Musical production of ‘Tommy’ and fell in love with co-star Hal Fowler. They married on September 1, 1996. Via Capel Manor Kim was attracted as a designer for the programme ‘Better Gardens’. A year later she went to the BBC, where she recorded two seasons of ‘Garden Invaders’. Kim also participated in a show of the Royal Horticultural Society and won a gold medal in the category Courtyard Gardens.

Your children and your husband don’t know you as a rock chick. How did they react to your return to the music world?
It’s true that at the time I wasn’t into music. Hal and the kids had no idea what it’s like to have a mother and wife as a popstar. There’s no gold record on our walls, even! But they were prepared for my comeback. During the eighties revival tours they came to some of my performances. I will never forget how Rose looked at me, with saucer eyes. Later she said that she wanted to become a popstar too. Harry thinks it’s cool too, and he is a miniature rocker himself. He loves to listen to Metallica and Guns & Roses. The first time Hal was at one of my concerts, he was glowing. And he still does. He likes being married to a rock chick. Hal is my support.
The funny thing is that when my parents heard I was quitting the music business, they had a lot of trouble with that. They understood it on the one side, but on the other side they wanted me to continue making music. When I stopped, I was well over thirty and I got the question whether I wanted children. My mother at one point even asked if I didn’t want to have any of my eggs frozen! I wasn’t involved in getting children at the time, especially since I hadn’t met anyone whom I would like to have children with. Until I met Hal…

Back to your gardening career for a while, because you also wrote a book, ‘Tuinieren met kinderen’.
Last year my book was released in England, as ‘Gardening with children’. It was a great project. When gardening is your work and you have two children running around who want to help then you start to make up projects to which they can devote themselves. And so the idea started. The book is written for children from the age of 2. It contains 31 projects, for all four seasons and it contains 447 photographs. My children think it’s dreadful that they are in the book but I am convinced that they will feel differently about it later. For me it’s great to have made something for posterity. Something completely different from my music career, where children are not confronted with bad things from my life, such as wrong relationships, depressions and more of such stuff.

You also participated in the programme ‘Celebrity Detox Camp’. How was that experience?
Thailand, I love Thailand! It was fantastic, it changed my life. Of course it was difficult to not drink or eat for seven days, but it was well worth it. Contrary to my three travelling mates I had no problems with the abstinence, although I didn’t like the colonic irrigations much. I really wanted to get into the programme, because the spiritual side of it was very appealing to me. I lost more than six kilo’s in seven days! I felt fantastic. I even went back there two years ago with my sister for the same treatment, that’s how much I liked it. But I also really loved Thailand. I would love to live there with Hal once the children are all grown up. It would be great to be there a few months every year – the winter months of course.

My time with Kim is already up, the thirty minutes flew by. It doesn’t surprise me that Kim has troubles with her voice. She is so enthusiastic and positive and you can tell she enjoys talking about her life. It was really great to interview her.

And then of course the new cd ‘Never say Never’. For me it is a real revival of Kim Wilde, in my younger years I danced and sang on almost all her songs. And the hits on ‘Never say Never’ carry more than enough spirit to ensure a great comeback. But also the new songs, written by Kim and brother Ricky, sound great. On ‘Together we belong’ you hear her younger sister. It’s all in the family. And then the remix of ‘Cambodia’ by Paul Oakenfold; bull’s eye! Let this chick rock on…