The English singer Kim Wilde had her biggest success in the Eighties. Even if she never got out of music completely, since 1995 she was best known as a celebrated gardener, mother and author. Since August 27 Wilde's new album is available: has she had enough of children, cooking and growing vegetables?
Isn't it very boring to always have to answer the same questions from journalists to promote a new CD?
They aren't always the same questions. At the moment I'm very excited about things. I have seen a few promotion articles and a promo version of the new CD, which I didn't know yet! I immediately 'stole' a few, so I could take them to my friends. This is the first step in a very exciting phase of my career!
And you have already had a long, successful career. You've sold over 20 million records, toured with Michael Jackson and David Bowie in front of millions. What is the reason to come back in the spotlights?
I have taken some time out of the music industry when I was 36, I got married, had children, and spent some time in another world, taking care of my love of gardening. I really needed the break. I lost the fun and inspiration... With my husband a whole new phase in my life started.
What happened next?
Then a few Eighties revival concerts in the UK happened. I was a bit unsure for some years, whether that was a good idea - and I always refused to perform on those. But one year they called me and they said I could tour with the Human League and Altered Images. Those were my favourite Eighties bands - I just couldn't say no! My children were a few years older, and I thought it might be a good motivation to try on my jeans again, to lose some weight and not just be 'a mother'. I started performing again - and I loved meeting the audiences again after all those years!
Not long after that, Nena contacted me, we worked together and had a hit with 'Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime'! That was great. Nena inspired me a lot. She is so cool and really a rock chick! I thought, I'd like to be in touch with my inner rock chick again - and here I am! The record company 'Star Watch' came and asked: 'Would you like to do an album?' I thought it could be really good: I will be 50 years old this year, I'm 30 years in the business, we'll have many fantastic live performances, and the album will celebrate much of what Kim Wilde is right now. I hope many people will be as happy with it as I am.
The new album reminds a lot of the music and energy of the Eighties...
Yes, that's exactly what we went for, when we got together with Markus and Hendrick from the record company in London. They wanted to bring the sound of the Eighties into the 21st century! And I wondered why I didn't think of that myself... Sometimes you need to have an outsider to bring in an idea that is really very simple.
But where does the strength to re-enter the stressy music business come from? You could live in peace on the countryside with your family. Now you're going into a new adventure which is hard...
That's not exactly how I see it. I loved the creative process, writing new music, putting the album together. It's something new, something I've never done before. There's a lot of freshness and vitality. I was never this good in the Eighties or Nineties, made something this great with a great band. And a few weeks ago I played in front of 85.000 people in Vienna, together with Billy Idol. The people liked what I was doing a lot... It's a whole different time for me now: back then everything was all about music videos, now it's all about live performances!
How important is your family life, to perform this confidently live?
My family life is the heart of my existance, it gives me the energy and strength! It's such a happy time. I have two wonderful children, a great husband and we have this great adventure together. That's the source of my energy - and of course the music. I have a real passion for music. I love hearing a great piece, that overwhelms me. I love Metallica, Kasabian and Lily Allen and many other types of pop music.
Family and pop music are not two opposites?
They are all parts of the same thing! I am trying to pull my children into my life as a musician, as they are ten and twelve years old. My son Harry plays guitar on the new album, and performs live with his little band 'Ten Volts' in my 'Rockumentary'.
So it's still like the last few years: you try to educate your children things, first gardening and now rock music? You are a gardener after all and show your children how food grows.
Yes, it's true! And also, to take care of our environment, to respect it and to make it inspire you. Nature is unbelievably inspiring. I'd like to give them the gift to experience that in their own garden. That was after all the main goal when I got into gardening. After all those years in cars, trains and planes I wanted to get out into the garden, feel my feet in the water and stuff like that... I felt like a bird in a cage for a long time.
Because you had an 'artificial life' in the pop business?
I think it was a great cage, for a while... But it was a great liberation to get out of that. I had a great time, when I went to college and challenged myself. It was hard work. Everyone thought so simply about it: oh, Kim Wilde got married, had children and went into gardening. But in fact it was one of the hardest things I had to do, to have two children and to build a new career, going back to college. It was a whole new existance. I knew how to get into an airplane, how to go into a studio or how to do a photo shoot... but to have children and to start a new career was really hard.
But you did it, you wrote two books about gardening, and even made television programmes about the subject...
Yes, I did lots of television. But I went in on the deep end, it was a little too early. And that was why I wanted to get back to college, to really learn about horticulture properly. New exciting things developed from that... I had a lovely long pause from the music business, and now I come back full of energy!
You are back in music. Are you still cooking for your children yourself or is there a cook in the house while you are back on stage?
No! I cook myself - like every other mother. I am of course happy that my husband is also a great cook. He does a lot too.
The perfect weekend starts with the perfect food, I read somewhere. Is that right?
We don't go out a lot, but we always cook at home. We do tend to eat more during the winter, when we have the big Sunday roast. My husband Hal is great at doing those... In the summer we don't cook as much, we tend to live outside.
You live outside?
Yes, we do spend a lot of time in the garden. We recently bought one of those swimming pools, which you have to build up... my husband spent three days putting the thing together with our friend Ray. And now I jump in and out all the time. I am very happy about it, I always wanted to have a swimming pool. (laughs) We ordered it over the internet, it was such fun! When it came it was in a box, and I thought we'd never get it in! So we live in the garden now. I think the garden is beautiful, with plants, trees, grasses, butterflies... it's a little piece of paradise! I'm never happier than when I'm in the garden.
And you will never give it up and be a full-time popstar again?
No, it's all part of a chain - my family, the garden, music.
So your life is fuller now than it was in the Eighties?
Totally, yes! Having a son and daughter, it's fantastic! And I have a great husband, I found my soulmate - it's a big gift, celebrating that every day. And I do! I even think the album is an expression of that joy.
Would you like to say there's a connection between gardening, cooking and a new album?
It's all rock 'n' roll! (laughs) Totally...
Germany was always an important country for your career. What do you expect from the German audience?
I expect nothing. My experiences here have been very positive through the years. This country gave me a hit with Nena a few years ago, then a recording contract. Now I have another record deal with Starwatch. The new album, which I'm so proud of, brought new connections to this country. And I love being here: Hamburg is so beautiful, München is so beautiful, Berlin is so wonderful. And I know there's lots of smaller, wonderful cities. I have a weakness for Bremen, I was at a Christmas market there, it was so beautiful! I have had great experiences here.
And now your German fans want to see you live.
Yes, we will do a tour in Germany, next February/March. I am looking forward to it, because my life changed from an artist making videos to an artist who performs live. I am ready for the live thing! Sure!
Are you one of the last universal geniuses? You sing, you write music, you write books, present TV programmes, gardener...
I wouldn't want to talk about being a genius, but I like to do creative things. I am a very creative person. I love painting, writing, music. I'm not sure whether I would be a good actress... maybe when I'm 70 or 80... I am exactly where I want to be at this point in my life, anyway! I am very connected to my profession and my family.
How did they react when they heard your new album?
My husband Hal was very happy about it, he supported me as ever. The children didn't see much of me as Kim Wilde... What I really wanted to do is have Harry play guitar on the album. Rose is ten, Harry is twelve and I want to involve them more in my professional life, taking them along to tours more often.
They don't know much about the Eighties when people celebrated you on the streets, as they are too young...
Yes, this part of my life will not be part of theirs. I think that's better for them anyway.
You think differently about that now?
Now it's time for them to know the truth! (laughs) What they really think of it all? You'd have to ask them. I think my daughter is really impressed. My son is not sure, he prefers to hear Metallica.
Don't you think it's unusual to be in the garden with your mother, she cooks your food - and then suddenly she appears on television?
Yes, but I know that too. I grew up in the UK with a famous father - but it was very normal. He said: 'Brush your teeth!', 'Be at home at ten, or there will be trouble!', 'Why were you at home at half past ten?'. He was my father, and it was not an issue that he was famous, although I knew he was. The family came first. And that's how I do it now, although perhaps a bit more extreme.
Once more about food: when you are on the road, what catering do you have?
When I perform live, I have breakfast and lunch during the day and then I don't eat anymore, to conserve energy! And an hour before the gig I sleep or have some sort of meditation - but usually it's sleep! (laughs) I don't speak to anyone, I am alone, very quiet, and then when the gig starts, I "explode". I am "on fire".
Do you need a lot of concentration?
Yes, I take it all very seriously. Even when I am in a wonderful city like Hamburg or Paris and I'd like to walk about, or go shopping, there's always a part of me that says 'no, no, no! Stay here, be quiet'. And that's how I do it.
Are you afraid of what will happen during those moments?
Sure, there's always a bit of fear in the cocktail of emotions, but most of it is adrenaline. I have a great band and I have such faith in what we built up. There's so much anticipation, I can't wait to get on stage. I can feel it even now.
You will have a lot of success with the new album. But what will happen with your family life when the audience wants another new album?
That's not a problem. There are many songs to be made. I have even written a few over the last few days. I am ready to do more. I don't think I'll pull back any time soon.
So everything can start all over again, like in 1981. But now the family is there...
I have a lot of support at home, like I said, and the children are older. Ten years ago I was not ready for what I'm doing now, or even five years ago... But I'm ready for it now, mentally and physically. When the second music career takes over my family life - which I don't think will happen - I can always pull the plug! That's my option, at my age I can do such things!
You don't need the music business anymore to be happy?
No! Sure, I love writing songs. I could imagine writing songs for others. But at the moment I do enjoy what I'm doing.
Would you prefer to reach older listeners or the youths of today?
I don't know whether younger people can relate to me, but they can surely relate to the album. They won't know it's Kim Wilde from 1981 they're hearing. Mostly because of the photographs the record company printed in the cd booklet... (laughs) It's astonishing what they can do with photographs these days... (laughs). But humour aside: it's simply good pop music. And younger kids like pop music just as much as us older kids.
You will have to do lots of promotion, and a tour. How do you take distance from that?
I will go and walk the dog. That's how I recharge my batteries.
Is it true that there are two Kim Wildes? One on stage...
...and one, who walks the dog. Sure! Although it's big fun wearing make up, posing and wearing black jeans, it's just as much fun walking the dog and being together with the kids. I don't think it's mentioned often enough in this industry. Simple things can be such fun - like walking the dog.