Interview: Kim Wilde

In recent years Kim Wilde has become better known as a TV gardener but she hasn’t ditched the pop music altogether. Ahead of her appearance at the Trent FM Arena on The Here And Now Tour, Simon Wilson caught up with the ‘Brigitte Bardot of rock’…

Never mind the gardening, according to her blog Kim Wilde is more interested in cooking these days. And when I call her at home, the 80s hitmaker behind Kids In America, is in the kitchen.
“I’m making fishcakes,” says the 48-year-old mother of two.

Is the cooking taking over the gardening?
I don’t know. I do a few gardening pursuits out of the public eye. My younger brother’s a landscape designer and I’ve been doing some design and consultation projects with him.

So what is she these days – pop star, gardener, cook, mother…?
Most of the time I’m doing a variety of different things. From bringing up the kids and doing the school run, a bit of cooking, some gardening, then doing lots of live stuff, which is lovely. That’s becoming increasingly part of my year.

Of course, her pop star peak was a quarter of a century ago but Wilde isn’t just doing the nostalgia tours. They’re still buying her new albums in some quarters of Europe.
Yeah, I had a big hit there a couple of years back with an artist called Nena, who had (a hit with) 99 Red Balloons. A new album was born from that. Then I did new versions of my old hits. It sounds a bit of strange thing to do but was very successful.

Later this month, she returns to Nottingham on The Here & Now Tour. And that must be easy, I suggest, since you know the songs so well, the sets are short, you’re touring with old comrades and you get to play to thousands of people every night?
Yeah it’s a no-brainer really, she admits.

Rick Astley, headliner on this tour, said it was his weekend job when we spoke a few months back.
Yeah exactly. I can’t believe it really. I get to do one of the things I love to do more than anything and then someone pays me.

Does she do Kids In America on this tour?
Of course I do.

Do you remove yourself from the words? After all, you’re not a kid any more. Saying that, you never were a kid in America…
That’s right. I don’t have a problem singing it now as I didn’t then, she laughs.

The daughter of original 50s rock ‘n’ roller Marty Wilde, reached No. 2 with her first release Kids In America in 1981, followed by Chequered Love, Cambodia, View From a Bridge and a cover of The Supremes’ You Keep Me Hangin’ On. She’ll be running through these during her 30 minute slot on the tour that also features Howard Jones, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Altered Images, Hazel O’Connor and Brother Beyond.
I’ve worked quite a few times with Clare (Grogan, of Altered Images) and she’s great. She’s a doll. Hazel O’Connor is a very funny girl. We’re going to have real giggle. Howard Jones is a gorgeous gentleman. And Rick’s a lovely guy too, so I think we’re going to have a very nice time.

Astley replaced Boy George as headliner after the Culture Club singer was sentenced to 15 months in January for false imprisonment. Will she miss him not being there?
I’m really gutted about that, she admits.

He’ll miss out on all the soup slurping.
I don’t know where that came from, she says of the reports that soup is the most rock’n’roll she gets these days.
Of course we do drink soup together because what happens is, you turn up to soundcheck and the caterers are going into the kitchen. You invariably do sit down in the canteen. And you may well end up having a nice tomato soup sat next to Nik Kershaw. You’ll shoot the breeze for a little bit.

She insists: There’s some harder stuff to consume later on. If Bananarama are there the vodka comes out (laughs). Or if Tony Hadley’s there, it’s always the red wine.
You can get misled by a number of them – including myself, I have to say.

What’s your tipple?
I like a bit of wine. Preferably Tony’s.

Her children, aged nine and 11, are interested in performing music, singing everything from Leonard Cohen to Jack Johnson or playing electric guitar a la Eddie Van Halen. How would she feel if they pursued a music career?
It’s up to them really.

Do they think she’s a cool mum?
I can never second-guess my kids. I know they love me but whether I’m cool or not is a whole other question.

Did you think your dad was cool?
I did. I had a picture of him in my desk at school.

The French certainly like her, branding Wilde “The Brigitte Bardot of rock.”
How nice is that, she laughs. Brigitte Bardot will do me just fine, thankyouverymuch. I’m not sure they’d call me that now.

You’ve aged all right, love.
Ah not bad. I scrub up all right.

Before I let her get back to the fishcakes, I have a gardening query concerning water features. Now, my missus, even though we have a garden of a size befitting an Edwardian mid-terrace, has installed three water features. Isn’t that a little excessive?
Have they got pumps?

Did you take the pumps out in the winter time?

Sometimes they can get a bit buggered up with the ice and they can be a maintenance nightmare. I think you’re better off having a little wildlife pond where you don’t have to worry about stuff like that. And let all the frogs and newts gravitate towards it. It’s good for the environment, good for them, less stress for you. You can’t go wrong.