‘I was especially good at wearing lipstick’

It’s funny how Kim Wilde talks about her early years in pop. “When Mickey Most saw me, he knew: that is popstar material’.

Mickey Most was the English pop producer of those years – we are talking about the Seventies and Eighties. He produced Smokey, Suzi Quatro, Hot Chocolate – but before that The Animals, Brenda Lee, Donovan and Jeff Beck’s ‘Hi ho silver lining’. In 1980 he added Kim Wilde to that list. “I really came to the studio”, she says, “to do backing vocals. I thought: I might sing with various different artists when I do that.” Until Most saw her. What he heard, he liked, but it was mostly the pretty head that grabbed his attention.

“I was at art college, but only half interested. My heart wasn’t in it. When I dyed my hair blonde, the teacher said: this is the best work of art you have ever made.” A compliment in the guise of an insult and vice versa – whatever, she had understood. It was music, then. Following in dad’s footsteps. Marty Wilde, himself a teenage star once. At the end of the Fifties he scored hits in England with covers of American hits like ‘Donna’ and ‘Sea of love’. He was competing with Cliff Richard, who was just starting his career then too.

At the time, Kim was getting very angry with Rick who was playing a tune in the room next door to hers. He’d made it up himself. ‘Kids in America’. “Very annoying. It didn’t leave my head, day after day.”

It was because it was so catchy, they recorded that song, in a studio in Hertfordshire. Only to do it all over again in Most’s RAK studios. “But it was the demo in the end, it couldn’t be surpassed.”

Since then her name is attached to the hit and vice versa. “We are a team”, she laughs. “Kids in America and Kim Wilde come together like, er… er… help me out here… bread and butter.”

The first of a series of world hits. ‘Chequered love’, ‘Cambodia’, ‘View from a bridge’, ‘Love blonde’. “My brother and father made the music. My input? All my energy went into singing, wearing lipstick and making the videos.” Doesn’t sound as if she suffered. “It paid off.” However she was, she points out, one of the few English artists who als obecame successful in the USA. It happened near the end of the Eighties. She’d raised some eyebrows by refusing to play live. “With today’s technology a lot can be reproduced, but at the time that was much harder. Like we couldn’t surpass the original recording of ‘Kids in America’ in the studio, we couldn’t make the music sound credible in a live situation.”

In 1987 dad and brother Wilde were tired. Ideas were gone. The big stream of hits dried up for a while. “We’d never done a cover version, so why not try one?” The choice was made: ‘You keep me hangin’ on’, an old hit from the Supremes. An American number 1 hit followed. And, also very attractive: a place in the tour of Michael Jackson during his 1988 tour – including three nights in Rotterdam in June 1988. But she puts this in perspective too: “The main reason I was asked to do it was because he couldn’t have a man as his support act and I was one of very few female artists who were considered. Supa-dupa special luck!” Shortly afterwards, she was done. No more energy. “I was thirty and I felt there was more to life than singing. It sounds a bit spoiled.”

At 35 she was ‘totally bored’. “I’d gone beyond my used-before-date.” A year in the musical Tommy, relatively anonymously followed. she also met a nice man while doing this. A house, a child, trees… Kim Wilde went into nature. Garden architecture and motherhood. College too. “Being challenged in a classroom, it was bliss.”

And if Tony Denton hadn’t stalked her, she might have been lost for the music world forever. The impresario thought there was money to be made with a tour of Eighties artists. With Kim Wilde, Human League, ABC. “The people wanted to hear the music again”, she noticed after she’d agreed to do it.

And then Nena came with one of her 99 red balloons and asked her for a duet. “I wasn’t ready for that at all. Nena was so into it still, I had to catch up.” Their ‘Anyplace, anywhere, anytime’ became a number 1 hit in 2003. “I was a popstar once again! An older rock chick, if you will. An Eighties icon.”

In these guises she will appear at Metropool in Hengelo this Saturday. While she is candid about a new project that appears after this summer. “It’s a secret. You will be surprised.” Fishing, pleading, begging: nothing helps. “I said it’s a secret, didn’t I?”

Pity. What about the performance? “People will recognise everything”, she promises. Her own work and some surprising covers .She is playing with this band for ten years now .”It’s going to be noise and jumping up and down!” No doubt about it.