Kim Wilde: the icon plays

The comeback of an Eighties icon: Kim Wilde about her lust for fame, the timelessness of her sound and the greed in the financial crisis.

Kim Wilde, poster girl of the eighties shows on her lively comeback album ‘Come Out And Play’ playful, social criticism in some amazing songs. We met the attractive fifty-year-old.

Your new album is called ‘Come Out And Play’ – have you rediscovered your playfulness?
Absolutely. On the one hand, as far as composing, but also in terms of live performances. I have worked intensely live in the past five years. The audience has inspired me in many ways for this new album. It is the best I’ve done for a long, long time.

At the sound of the new songs you hear that you have not lost your love for the Eighties. What is the fascination of the era for you?
First, personal. In 1980 I was twenty years old and my career started with a bang: ‘Kids in America’ became a worldwide hit. Such a thing has influence on a person. It turns out that much of that music is timeless. Something like La Roux would be inconceivable without the influence of the Eighties. Our intention with the new album was, of course, to mix elements of the eighties with the latest sounds. It had to sound fresh.

You have invited some stars of the eighties. What was it like to be in the studio with Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17?
We have been good friends for a while, but have never worked together. The old scene has come together, since there are so many eighties revival festivals. ABC, Heaven 17, Nik Kershaw, Belinda Carlisle are now all good friends. Glenn’s voice has always impressed me. He doesn’t take things so serious. He has, I think, no idea how good he really is. My brother and I are very honored to have him on the album.

How important was your brother for the new production?
Ricky has always been a very important part of my music. We compose together and he is my musical director for the live performances. Without him I would not want to go on stage.

Didn’t the worldwide success of ‘Kids In America’ come a little early for you?
I think not. I was already five years in the business and have grown quite normal in my career. Today I feel much more comfortable on stage, of course, as back then, but I was already sure that the music is my destiny. I was so scared so much as relieved when it went off well with the career.

What was it like to be an artist on Mickie Most’s Teenie-label RAK, which directed the careers of Smokie, Hot Chocolate, Mud, Suzi Quatro and Sweet?
Those were magical times. Mickie Most is unfortunately no longer with us. That makes me sad, he was always an important part of my life.

What do you remember your first encounter with Nik Kershaw, with whom you sing the ballad ‘Love conquers all’?
We were on the same label in the Eighties. He was extremely shy back then. I have some magical photos of him from that time. Total extremely talented and sweet he was. He always felt uncomfortable in public. This is something I can not say of me. I had fun with the star-game, he hated it.

Don’t those pictures also give you some pain, because of the fashion?
No, not really. I stand by everything. Moreover, even recently, a certain retro-eighties look quite chic. I certainly can not leave it alone. Maybe that’s a sign that my new album has the right timing. I am fifty years old this year, am thirty years in the music business – that is quite possible to have again increased attention.

To become 50 – what kinds of feelings do you get from that?
I’m here quite relaxed. I want to celebrate my fiftieth birthday, show how much joy and creativity is in me. The album is part of this celebration. I’m as happy as ever.

You have addressed more serious topics in your songs.. In ‘Suicide’ the lyrics deal with human greed. How did that happen?
I have written it at the height of the financial crisis. Greed is everywhere in our society. There is the greed of high finance, but also the greed of a small man, who occasionally borrows more money than they can repay. Even children are eating too much, get drunk after too much alcohol. And then there’s the meaningless consumption, pushing so many important aspects of life in the background. We all bear responsibility for our lives, so we shouldn’t necessarily do something that’s bad for you just because so many others are doing it.