“What a trip it was!”

Kim Wilde sang with 20 “Kids in America” and was suddenly famous. Others would have crashed, the British woman became a celebrated gardener and then celebrated her comeback at 50. Is this pop?

Everyone knows “Kids in America”, this tune from the best radio of the eighties! Sure, most are a little bit embarrassed when they hear it – as so often in these Hit machine songs. Kim Wilde, that was always the sexy nice one, who was rarely talked about in tabloids. Wilde was the star with a lack of selfconsciousness, who retired at 30 to have babies. Now, at 50, Wilde is back in the pop business, and is giving interviews as she did so often before, this time for the album called ‘Snapshots’. She is wearing subtle make-up, dyed her hair bleach blond and maintains British understatement: she hopes she can keep this conversation interesting.

Kim Wilde, other celebrities write autobiographies, you have now invented a new genre: the covers album of songs that were important in your life …
Yes, so I could leave out all the gruesome details.

Are they there?
Not very many. But that really should remain private. My songs have always been told much about my life, but not in a tacky style. I prefer to give evidence. A book I might do later.

What would you write?
That I turned 50 and got back into the pop business, that is something that could be said.

Not many people did this?
No. But it’s great fun! I enjoy my performances on stage, love the interaction with the audience.

Is different from the 20-year-old Kim Wilde?
It’s more fun. My voice is much stronger. Certainly over the years is also a growing self-confidence. But the voice is aged in his mid-thirties – for me that is precisely the time when I withdrew from the music business.

You have stopped at the wrong time?
It was exactly the right one! I was just bored of me and my voice, the music, from being a pop star. I was not surprised that no one has bought my records. I had lost my sparkle. It was very liberating to wake up one day as Kim Fowler.

You say it like it wasn’t a big deal, just time to end life as a pop star who has enjoyed the fame?
This was not a pleasant experience. It took me a few years to make that decision at the end there was an opportunity to get out: I went to the theater, met my husband there and had children. Music was always important, but the pressure to be Kim Wilde was gone.

Was it a big pressure? It didn’t seem as though you were suffering…
I was very good at hiding things.

Other stars like Amy Winehouse were not so good at hiding?
I think Amy could not handle it, like many others, how amazingly extraordinary she was. She found no peace with their talent. The addiction problems were more a symptom of the difficulty of accepting themselves. And that’s very sad. But apparently I didn’t have these problems.

You laugh – to make it easier or is it flirtatious?
I could always appreciate my talent in a realistic manner. The pressure was rather to be a glamorous star. But my family gave me more support. Not only my brother, my father and my mother have been very supportive. Sometimes they stopped me from going crazy.

Did you have problems?
Well, actually the danger was never very large. I was always a pretty sensible child, even in college was my worst offense to smoke cigarettes. I was never an excessive drinker. The family was always a great source of strength.

With other stars, the opposite would be true: the family was a problem for Michael Jackson, for example, who you also toured with.
That’s right, the pressure within his family was big, the problems were big too.

How was your family?
Well, not like the Jacksons, but not like the Waltons, this American TV family, which has no internal conflicts. I would say it was an immensely positive experience for us all, but the claim was not true that there were never problems – I would not tell you yet what they were.

Well, of course not …
Sure, it would be very easy to say that I am happily married for 15 years and everything was easy. My husband and I also love one another like crazy, but, my goodness, what kind of a trip! It would not be very helpful to do as if everything was perfect.

In the pop but it’s mostly about crazy love and perfect finish – are you the role model of the “reasonable Star”?
Whether I am a role model, I do not know. I’m just trying to be as honest as I can.

Your mother certainly was one, as a member of the first British girl band – which is why there is a cover to snapshots of the Sugababes. What’s so great about a girl combo?
They got together for the first time as a few girls and have recorded records as a vocal ensemble!

Why are you laughing?
Well, I’m a bit proud, I always thought how cool is that!

Why were you not a member of girl band?
That was a nice idea, but actually I wanted to be a singer without a fixed band and prefer to work with various artists. Then I suddenly found myself back in the studio and sang “Kids in America” …

… the hit, with which you became famous overnight …
… yes, everything changed.

Disappointed that things turned out that way?
No, back then I was so overwhelmed by the success that I did not had time to think about it. The idea of making music in a girl band, I think, is charming no matter what.

There is a certain power that women have when they are together: A group of girls can be very sexy, but also change the world.

Or finish each other off.
Or fighting, yes.

You laugh, you have already experienced?
No, I’ve always had good relations with women.

Socially, do you think that women have too little solidarity?
I am sure that many women have their part in ensuring that the world changes. Organized at the municipal level, women do everything from choirs to neighborhood assistance. They just go at it differently than men – they are crying out loud their projects, women don’t make a big deal out of it.

In Germany it’s often said: all well and good, but that’s why they also have no real power. Britain also debated the women in leadership positions?
There were some debates, yes. When Labour came to power, many women were brought into the cabinet, but all have one after the men left the federal government again. I’m always a bit relieved when I see a politician on television, and Angela Merkel. You can prevail and make hard decisions. I think it’s good.

That’s about saving the world, what does sexyness have to do with it? In the last Slutwalk demos sexy clothes were a controversial topic …
Each is allowed to dress as sexy as she pleases! I personally have more of a problem with taste, as often it looks so vulgar.

What clothes would be vulgar?
I do not think that the clothing per se may be vulgar, it has more to do with behavior and attitude.

Do you feel under pressure to be sexy?
A little bit, yes, but not so much that I would really suffer. The notion of beauty today is much broader.

You once said, that it’s great that when you stopped making music, you didn’t have to wear make up or watch what you eat anymore.
I was relieved, yes, but that didn’t come from external things, but my life circumstances of at the time. To land a super hit as a 20-year-old meant, besides all the fun, that one was also a little sealed off from reality. I lived anywhere except in my own world. To grow up in public is pretty hard. Since you can ever lose the grip.

Their retreat into private life led to another kind of down to earth – you have discovered gardening.
Actually, our kids were the triggers. I wanted to allow them the experience of growing up with a garden, because I believe that all children have a strong relationship with nature, they play with worms, plucking leaves from flowers, I was the same. But I can tell you it was fast frustrating to make the patch of wasteland a cultivated garden. I understood so little of it.

Therefore, you have studied landscape gardening?
Yes, and it was lovely to be back in a classroom. All my creativity and passion manifests itself now in the garden: We have vegetables, a real forest, and many owls!

Our columnist, the Friday-gardener would say now: That’s all cultural space, not a natural space …
I feel completely different: I’ve spent so much time without reference to nature, I instinctively felt the need for nature. It feels wonderful to be outside! And hopefully I’m doing so also a contribution to sustainable living. Many people are gardening again, that’s good.

What makes a garden beautiful?
It should be as many plants as possible have, and it’s great when people grow vegetables, not least the so healthy food.

Do you have a favorite plant?
All kinds of seeds are wonderful, just so small and then grow from huge plants! And I like anything that smells good. And roses because they are so strong and beautiful. That’s why I called my daughter Rose.

What do your children want to become?
My daughter has recently announced at a school assembly, she wanted to be a pop star, and I just thought, oh God! Now everyone will think: the mother wants it. But I didn’t persuade her! My children didn’t know I make music for a long time. You should grow up in an environment where a garden is important. But despite this I am a little feverish with my daughter. I think she has talent. My son Harry is an avid guitar player, maybe he will be a rock god in a cool band, and when he is 30, he will call me and ask for advice about his carrots in the garden.

Keep Me Hangin ‘On: The Career of Kim Wilde

Actually her name is Kimberly “Kim” Smith, she was born on 18 November 1960 in London, the eldest child of rock-‘n’-roll singer Marty Wilde. Her mother Joice Baker was also a singer. Like her brother, Ricky, her sister Roxanne and her niece Scarlett she used to date the stage name of her father: “Wilde”.

Wilde studied at St. Albans College of Art and Design, her musical breakthrough came in 1981 with the chart success of “Kids in America” (composed and written by her father). In 1983 she was honored by the British record industry as “Best Female Vocalist”. While she lost popularity in Britain, she continued to fill the halls in Germany. She became the title “Bardot of pop music” and received four Bravo Ottos in a row as the best singer.

The mid-nineties, she decided to retire from the music business. She moved into musical theater and appeared in a production of the musical Tommy at London’s West End. There she met her current husband, Hal Fowler. In 1998, her son Harry was born, and in 2000 her daughter Rose. During her first pregnancy Wilde became interested in gardening, she studied landscape gardening and started to present gardening broadcasts on British television and radio. 2005 she published her book ‘Gardening with Children’.

In 2003 she had a hit with a duet with Nena “Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime”, a comeback success that brought the two weeks in Germany # 3 in the charts. 2006 finally released their comeback album Never Say Never. Her latest covers album ‘Snapshots’ was released last week and in the spring of 2012, Kim Wilde tour through Germany.