Date: 21 February 2007
Originally published in: Interview for De Rode Loper @ Ancienne Belgique, Brussels (Belgium)
Your last album is ‘Never say never’. Why that title?
Because I never thought I’d make another pop album, quite frankly. When I got out of the music industry ten years ago, got married and had children and ended up getting into horticulture, it never crossed my mind to be doing this, talking to you about Kim Wilde. I thought I’d left it behind.
Was there a particular reason why you got out?
You know, when I got out of the music industry I’d been in it since I was 20 and I was 36. And I met a fantastic man and wanted to get married and have babies. I never thought having a family and the music industry would be very good partners. And also my career to me at that point had stopped being fun. There didn’t seem to be any more challenges for me, I was kindof bored. And so when I met my husband I thought right, I’ll disappear and have these babies and see what happens. And amazing things happened. I ended up writing books, becoming a journalist, going back to college, becoming a mother, the most incredible gift life has given me. Coming back is mostly because of a series of events. Doing some revival tours with some old eighties artists like ABC and Heaven 17, and also having a big hit with Nena over the last few years, with ‘Anyplace, anywhere, anytime’. So that’s really why… I don’t think I could have motivated myself to come back without that sort of impetus, without Nena I mean.
Has she asked you to sing with her and to go back on tour?
I have been on some gigs with her, actually. Last year she was in Zurich. I was on stage with her a bit.
You told us you’re a mother now. Can you combine that with going on tour?
My children are 9 and 7 years old now. Their dad is taking care of stuff right now. So we are able to parent-share. We’re hands on parents. We don’t have someone else to take care. So we manage to juggle it, sometimes it’s a real juggling act, it’s tough, sometimes really stressful. But it’s worth it. I think it’s good for them to see mum’s engaged and rocking and I think they will learn to be very grateful that mum did this, this time.
How do they react on that part?
I don’t expose them. It’s enough to try and get them to listen to me. God, I don’t think they would hardly ever listen to me if they saw me on stage in leather pants, you know. They’d never listen to me then. It’s hard enough to get them to listen to me now. I don’t want to confuse them too much. They have school, they’re little kids… When I go home I’m mum. Kim Wilde, we leave her in the suitcase.
Now you’re back on tour. How do you enjoy that?
It’s great fun. It’s such fun. I get to be on a tour bus again. I get to be a kid, everyone looks after me for a change. I get to sing, which I really enjoy a lot. My voice has matured a lot, it’s a lot stronger. I think what’s happening in my head is a lot better too, I feel a lot more confident. The whole thing for me is quite new, in many ways. I never felt so good when I am live on stage. I’ve got a terrific band, that always helps.
Why do you feel like that?
Primarily I have to say because of the response I’ve had from the public, which has been overwhelming. We were in Paris last night at La Cigale and it was just incredible. I kept looking behind to see if somebody else has walked in. ‘What are you excited about? It’s just me…’ So it was great. It’s lovely, it’s a treat, it’s a gift.
And on the album there are new versions of old hits. Why did you do that?
Well, as I said the whole project was inspired by working with Nena, and her comeback album, which I suppose this album is, was just entirely covers. When I heard it, they sounded so fantastic and new. And I knew her stuff from the eighties. And I met her producer Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen. And I said if you can make some of my old songs sound that fresh and strong again, I’d really love you to do that. So I let him choose the songs he wanted to do. So half the album has got all the songs like ‘Kids in America’ and ‘You came’, and the other half of the album is new songs. They seamlessly fit together, there’s not a sense of ‘that was the past and this is now’, they kindof slot like this. And that’s how they sound on stage too.
And do you again enjoy these new songs, ‘Kids in America’, ‘Cambodia’?
Yeah, it’s really good fun. I think there was a time when I didn’t enjoy them quite so much and I had become tired of being chained to the past. But now I’ve been away for ten years and I’ve had plenty of time to think about that. And the reaction I have from the audience is enough to make it really worthwhile. It’s fun again, that’s the most important thing, that’s how it should be. It shouldn’t be a chore. It had become a bit of a chore, the whole bit, the lipstick, the pouting, it was ‘all right, there must be more to life than this’, and there was of course – and there is! – but it’s such fun to come back to it again.
And you look very beautiful. What’s your secret? When I saw on the internet all those pictures, I thought ‘My goodness, Kim Wilde is back in town.’
Well, thank you! Very expensive face cream of course, lots and lots of make-up, hours and euros spent at the hairdresser. I’m fit, I don’t do drugs, I’m a healthy girl, I don’t smoke, never have really, just occasionally in the past. So I think it’s just good to treat your body like a temple. I’m a happy girl, I’m a happy woman. I’m very blessed.
But do you feel the difference when you were 20 and now?
Yeah, you know when I was 20 I always thought there was something missing something all the time. It’s an affliction of being twenty-something. Of course, why shouldn’t it be? There is something else when you’re 20. You get worried and you get concerned. You thing ‘What’s going to happen with my life’. Now I’m 46 I know what happened and it was all great and I didn’t have to worry quite so much. I’d love to say that to any 20 year old who sat next to me with that look on their face that I recognise. I’ve been saying that to my sister and she’s just recently been saying ‘I know what you mean now.’ Stuff happens.
Is it an advantage to have more experience?
Definitely. I think this is the best age I feel I’ve ever been. I love being this age. I would like to stage this age for a long long time.
I was 15 when ‘Kids in America’ came out. How do you look back at those days?
I wasn’t much older than you. I was only twenty-something. It happened. My dream had come true. I’d always wanted to be a popstar, all of a sudden I was given the gift of the song ‘Kids in america’ and I was given a massive hit record pretty much all over the world. So I was having a great time in the eighties, travelled around a lot, had a lot of success. Very focused, very ambitious, very aware that I was lucky to have a good job and I got paid to do the best job in the world. I still feel like that now.
And how did you live with the feelings of teenage boys at the time?
I didn’t even think about teenage boys. I was too busy chasing my own kind of boys. I was twenty-something and all you think about was trying to find a nice boyfriend. So I wasn’t even thinking about the one who had posters of me. I was too interested in the ones that might take me out on a date.
You’re remarkably sane. Looking at what happened to Britney Spears in the weekend, I wonder how did you keep your sanity in those days?
I was very lucky, because I was working with my family. And although there was quite a bit of criticism about that at the time, I guess it wasn’t very cool to work with your dad and your mum and your brother. But actually it’s a pretty cool thing to do. They kept me sane. I’m here on tour now with my brother and my sister who was born when I was twentysomething. It’s great to be surrounded by people who you trust and who you love. I was very lucky to have that all within my family.
What was the most rock and roll thing you ever did?
(laughs) Right. What about the second most rock and roll thing? (laughs) Well you know, I haven’t thrown the television out of the window. I’m not a very destructive person, but I’ve had more than my fair share of fun over the years, mostly aided and abetted by my strange and crazy brother Ricky, who wrote ‘Kids in America’ and all the songs. He can lead me astray. I’m a fairly sensible mum nowadays.
Yeah, you’re a mum now. How would you react when your kids decide to step into the business? The business has changed.
Of course it has but it’s still very much about musicianship and songwriting and more there days about performance. There’s a great response to me playing live again. I guess that stands true for everyone. They don’t want the video, they don’t want the TV appearance. They wanna stand in an audience and feel the stuff. This is a great time for me to come back because I feel very good about delivering that.
But what if your kids decided ‘I wanna do Star Academy, X Factor, I wanna go into showbusiness!’
I’m very lucky, aren’t I? I’ve got a lot of experience, I’m sure that could come in useful. I don’t really mind whatever they want to do, as long as they are able to express whatever creativity they have you know whether that’s writing songs, planting gardens…
You would be there for them like your father was for you.
I would be there for them if they wanted me.
How do they react now their mum decides to go back on tour?
I think they think it’s quite cool. Harry, my oldest son, he loves Metallica. I think he thinks it’s pretty cool that mum wears leather pants sometimes. But actually I don’t really expose them to my professional life as Kim Wilde. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it or worried about it, it’s just that they’re only 7 and 9. And I want them to just know me for a few more years as their mum and try and get them to listen to me.
Do you succeed in having them to listen to you?
They listen to me quite a lot, they listen to their father a lot more. It’s like ‘good cop, bad cop’, I’m definitely a good soft touch cop.
‘Never say never’ is a clear hint to one old James Bond film I think. Was it something you said, ‘I’m never going to do pop music again?’
I did feel that when I got out of the industry ten years ago to get married and have children and pursue another life certainly my thoughts of getting back into the pop world were very negative and remained that way for quite some time. And then I got roped in to do a few different things, some revival concerts with ABC and Belinda Carlisle, and I really enjoyed that. Now this album has been a lovely extra layer of icing on the cake. I could have lived without it, I was having a very nice time, but there’s nothing quite like rock and roll. There’s nothing quite like being on stage and performing live. Not a lot of us get to do that, do we?
Someone who would get to do that was German singer Nena. How do you explain both your success at a later age?
I know isn’t it mental? (laughs). I’m not quite sure I can explain it really. But I think anything that’s really successful has to come from a very genuine place, it has to come from a very real passion. You can’t just play it, this kind of stuff. I realised that from the past. When I got out, I had lost that fire and it was time to go. But I got it back again, one way or another.
In Belgium we would say that you have green fingers because you love gardening. It’s not very rock and roll, gardening, is it?
Well, actually, you’re very wrong. It’s the most rock and roll thing next to rock and roll. In fact in the UK they call it the new rock and roll, so you’re just so out of touch. (laughs) It’s great to be looking after our planet. That’s a big motivation for me. And to instill in my children a sense of responsibility and the sense of being caretakers of our planet and to instill in them a respect and compassion for it. For a planet that after all is on its knees. These are all issues that interest me, but ultimately it’s great to get your hands in the dirt and it’s great to grow something.
What’s your most favourite trophy, is it the Chelsea Flower Show big prize or a gold album?
Ohh… well that’s not fair! It’s like asking which child is my favourite! Actually, I have to say the Chelsea gold medal was a great achievement by any standard. That was a great day in my life. When I’m heavenwards, I hope, lying… the last gasp of breath from my body there should be some images and that day in Chelsea will be there.
If you were forced to choose between rock and roll and gardening, what would it be?
Ohh… You can do both. You don’t have to choose. You don’t have to choose. You can have it all. You can have your cake and eat it and you can have a rum cocktail at the same time. When you’re my age you are allowed to have it all.
You sung ‘Kids in America’ when you were 21, now you’re singing it at 46. Are you still allowed to sing ‘we are the kids in America?’
That’s a very good question. Don’t think I ask myself that question every time I walk on stage. And if I stopped asking that question, there would be something very wrong with me.